Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Evening

It's Sunday evening here on Granny Lane.  We've done zero sewing this weekend due to having to prepare for the coming of my nephew and niece in the next couple weeks.  It's a work in progress, but the playroom is almost cleaned out.  I'm going to be refurbishing a child's size table and chairs in the near future, as well as a set of child's wicker furniture for the front porch.  I'll post pictures when they're done! 

I'm going to start on the embroidery for the pinafore.  I've been making bows and figuring out how to do the smocking on the organza dress and how to draft patterns in smaller sizes for the babies. It's an experiment, but I have all the bow parts pre-made to match the dresses.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A week....

Wrapping up a week of non-sewing here.  I've spent the week coughing, blowing runny noses, sneezing, and generally feeling miserable.  Weekends are usually prime sewing time, but we'll have to see.  I've managed to dig around in the black hole and find the lace I need for my project--which, believe me, was no small task--and set up my serger for rolled hem, but nothing else. 

I survived another week with the girls.  Don't get me wrong, I love them to death, but Bit has been acting out a little.  Her entire world has been turned upside down lately.  She's been in time out more in the last month than in the last year.  It used to be a very seldom-used thing, but lately, it's almost every day. Me being sick doesn't help, either.  I fall asleep too fast and she's not getting the attention that she's used to getting.

Well, here's hoping to a better week next week.

Who watched Project Runway last night?  I did!  Well, most of it.  That I could stay awake for!  Anya's pants were not all that.  The model was practically drowning in the fabric, they had a butt-crack zipper, pleats make even models look fat, and she committed an unforgivable sin--she topstitched a hem in silk!  The crotch on the pants was also located nowhere near the model's anatomical crotch!

I feel sorry for Josh.  (The bald LDS guy)  He should've known better.  If he's watched the show, he should know that for the first time, that is until you get the model's real measurements instead of what they admit to, you should have at least a one inch seam allowance just in case you have to let it out.  The pleats on the shorts were also a bad idea, as were the cuffs, and he should've dyed the fabric all-around.  The hoodie was interesting, but the execution needs a bump up.  And the shirt!  ACK!  What was he thinking?  I just hope that he pulls it together.  I'm cheering for him, 'cause it's probably inevitable that he'll get the AUF for being safe and boring if nothing else.

Bert, well, good for him.  But it's obvious that he hasn't dealt with styling in a long, long time.  And I sincerely hope that he had a layer under those boxers so that the poor model didn't have dirty boxers next to her bare boob!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brilliant Basics: transferring pattern markings

In twenty years of sewing, I'd never transferred pattern markings.  I referred to them, yes, but actually transferring?  Nope.  In part, it was because the standard pattern tracing wheel has never worked for me.  I never could figure out how it was even supposed to work, and I tried repeatedly to get it to without success.  Two years ago, I was working on Simplicity 2629.   It's a vintage 1948 rerelease, complete with embroidery motifs. Thing is, the original pattern would have included transfers for the designs.  The modern version says something to the effect of, "transfer embroidery designs using your favorite method."  Most modern patterns that include embroidery say that.  Now, there are three common methods of doing it-- embroidery heat transfer pens, embroidery heat transfer pencils, and transfer sheets.  The marker is a favorite with opaque fabric because you get lines that are easy to see and thus, embroider over.

Looking at the transferred designs, I had an epiphany--why not transfer the tuck markings in the same way?  I'd always had problems with tucks before that--no matter how hard I tried, I always ended up with one being crooked.  And later on, I found that my pens stunk for transferring to white, semi-sheer, and sheer fabric because you could see the lines on the right side.  I tried the pencil, but I could never get it to transfer dark enough to see.  So I tried the sheets.  They're now a favorite.  I use them to transfer not only embroidery designs, but tuck marks, pleat marks, darts, and anything else that benefits from having a clear mark to work with.  Joanns in my area carries them, so you should be able to find them at your local craft store.

So, here's my guide for working with the transfer sheets.  First, we need to gather supplies.  I use a piece of cardboard for backing to make lining up the pattern pieces easier.  Once the transfer paper is laid on the fabric, it's hard to see where the fold lines are, so this gives a line to use.  I also use a seam gauge, though any ruler will do, a chopstick for the actual transferring, and a mechanical pencil for darkening the lines afterwards.

This is the transfer paper.  It comes in a pack with five different colors.  I prefer the graphite.  One thing you do need to know is that the marks from the paper won't stay--they lighten with a little handling (very little) and can disappear before you're done using them.  It washes out, and doesn't show through the other side.

The first thing you need is your cut out material.  I usually pin labels on any pieces that look similar and are close in size so I don't get them mixed up.

Now, lay the fabric wrong side out with the dart is facing you and  the fold line on the edge of the cardboard.   In this case, having the other side of the fabric on the outside is a great thing, because it gives you something to line up the pattern piece with.

Next, lay the transfer paper right side down on top of the fabric, and line the pattern piece up with the other half of the fabric.  (The chopstick is in the picture to keep the fan from blowing the pattern piece away!)

Now, using the chopstick, trace over the lines of the pattern.  A regular wooden number two pencil will also work in a pinch, but the chopstick is better because the end is flat.  Remove the pattern and the transfer paper and get out the ruler and mechanical pencil.  This won't show through to the other side, but it will provide you with both lines to match up and a line to sew on.

Now, line up the ruler and trace over the lines.  They're always a little crooked from transferring, and this straightens them out for you as well as making sure that they'll stay long enough for you to use them.

This is the result--a clear mark that shows where to sew.  Don't worry, graphite pencil lead does wash out.  Now, we need to repeat it with the other side of the fabric. 

You'll need to flip the pattern piece over and use the wrong side as a guide, but it'll still work very well.

Now this is the right side of the fabric.  See?  No markings!  Now, repeat with all of the markings you need to transfer.

Darts in kids' clothes are usually just for style and aren't really completely necessary for construction.  But if they're in your pattern, the pattern has been added to so that they become necessary. 

Transferring the markings eliminates the guesswork in making pleats, darts, and tucks.  While I wouldn't recommend it for tiny tucks, it works well for larger ones.  Sometime in the next week, I'll go over double needle pintucks; I'm using them in my current project!

And just for a cuteness break--

When I wasn't looking, Bit managed to curl up in her baby sister's car seat and fall asleep there today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday morning blues

As I sit here waiting for the babies to arrive this morning, I'd like to give a progress report.  Slip #2 and panties #4 on Simplicity 3296 are all cut out, and I made it to Joanns to buy more organza. 

I'm going to get the front skirt of the pinafore recut today.  It should be interesting, considering that I somehow managed to lose the front skirt piece.  I'll have to use one of the netting underskirts as a template and subtract an inch.  I need to get started on the embroidery and do the double needle pintuck panel.  I also decided what lace collar to use from my stash, but I have yet to hunt down the lace to trim the netting underskirts with.  It's in the Black Hole.  I hate trying to find anything in there.  But my spool of approximately 600 yards of lace is in there because I haven't used any of it since sometime in December.

I switched my serger over to rolled hem, because almost every part of the underskirt needs to have a rolled hem, as does the ruffle on the slip's skirt before I add the lace over top of it.  I also transferred the dart markings to the pattern pieces for the dress bodice and lining and the slip bodice and lining.  All in all, I'm almost really-truly ready to start sewing.  Would y'all like to see how I transfer markings?  I use this method for tucks and pleats, too!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things you learn from colds

1) Liquid versions of NyQuil and DayQuil work better than the gel-caps
2) The labels lie.  If that's "good" tasting, I don't want to taste the bad.
3) Never, ever mix red NyQuil and blue NyQuil.  Trust me.  Don't do it.
4) The cure is as bad as the disease
5) Get the lotion tissues.  Your nose will thank you.
6) You can learn to do shooters by chugging medication.
7) No matter how hard you try and dump the medicine past your tastebuds, you'll still taste it.
8) Three-year-olds love taking the tissue you stuffed up your nose to keep the drips from reaching chapped skin out.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Project Runway and other things

As I'm sitting here, surrounded by a mound of used tissues, I've been looking at the contestants for the next season of Project Runway.  Yes, I'm a fan, but mostly so I can make fun of what cracktastic thing they send down the runway next.  This next season looks to have more than its share of designers who've been smoking something.

Case in point-- Fallene Welles.  The pants she's wearing are her own 'design'.  And I use that term loosely.  First--the sewing.  The folded tucks aren't exactly straight and they don't end in the same place.  There's also pulling across her stomach, so they don't fit, even as blousy as they are.  To be perfectly honest, they look like a bad Home Ec project.  Not only that, but I do believe I can pinpoint exactly where her idea came from.

While bloomers are an old idea, as are bloomer shorts, they've been relegated to children's clothing for most of the last century.  In fact, my 20s-30s Singer how-to-make-children's-clothing book calls dresses for toddler girls "bloomer frocks".  Dresses for little girls were so short that it was necessary to have matching undies underneath.  One would think that they'd be relegated to the past, but it's not true.  Judging from commercial clothes my nieces own and what's available in the big four of commercial patterns, bloomer shorts for little girls are making a comeback.  McCall's, especially, seems taken by the trend.  Then again, they do think of themselves as the contemporary pattern company.

Exhibit A-McCall's 6059--

View D, which the model is wearing, are a cleaner version of Fallene's bloomer shorts.  I made this pattern last year, only with the regular pants instead, because at the time, Joanna thought they were the ugliest things going.

Exhibit b--this is this year's newest version, McCall's 6270, which Gracie will own soon.  I'll be making exactly what the model is wearing, except in different fabrics.  While this set doesn't have the absolute waistband (it's elastic) or the leg bands of the previous design, it's still the poofy britches of yesteryear.  And this isn't confined to toddlers, either!  Not only does this pattern stray into the 'children' sizes, but they have another!

Exhibit C--McCall's 5797.  Not only does it have a version of the pillowcase dress--which I still don't like!  But it's available from sizes 3 to 14!

What's cute on a three-year-old or a baby just isn't cute on an adult.  It's why I start looking for a child when I hear the term "romper".  Anyone want to bet that if Fallene sticks around long enough, one of her designs will be a pillowcase romper with ruffles across the butt?

Part of making clothes is to make them well enough that people don't realize that they're homemade.  I cringe when I hear the words "crafty" or "home sewn".  I would much rather people ask where they can buy what I've made for the girls.  And honestly, that's the most common question Joanna gets when they're wearing stuff I've made for them.  And those pants Fallene is so proudly showing off are screaming Holly Homemaker and Becky Home-ecky!   I watched the casting vid, and I can't believe that the judges actually praised 'em!  Perhaps this is a sign of the quality of applicants?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Car seats!

Yes, yes, this isn't sewing.  But Little Bit has outgrown her convertible infant seat, and truthfully, it's served its life.  It's done, and going out with the garbage on Monday.  So we started looking for a new or new-to-us one.   And we needed an affordable one and since she's old enough for a booster...  But she's not ready for the backless.  My SIL was given a backless one, which she gave to us for LB's use.  But Bit doesn't like it and more importantly, she can get out of it!  And does! Of course, rather than running out the gas, I went on the internet first.  I checked Babies R Us, Kmart, Target, and finally, the bane of my existence-- Wal-Mart.  I admit it!  I'm still mad at Wal-Mart for getting rid of most of the fabric!

Anyway, they had coordinating Cosco car seats--a high back booster and a convertible infant car seat both for $39 each.  Yes, they're glaringly pink, but we've got girls!  And by the time Baby Bit is ready for the booster, LB will be ready for backless.  We figure that by the time Jared and Joanna have a little boy, they'll either have had to move somewhere else, or it, too, will be through.  And I can always just make a new cover for it, using the old one as a pattern.  Or IIRC, I actually have a commercial one. 

Anyway, they're on order, and we'll be able to pick it up next week.  LB is, of course, taken with the fact that it's pink.  And when my sister dumps her kids here for three days, Jeron will just have to deal.  Yes, I'm a mean Auntie!  But the ear protectors we have for toddlers are pink too.  And if he doesn't want to wear them, he doesn't get to ride the 'tractor'.  We don't babysit Sarah's kids much.  And Nikki and Gracie spend a lot of time here.  So naturally, we have toys more for little girls.  And more pink things.  For a little boy who has decided that he doesn't like "girl" stuff....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tutorial: adjusting RTW baby jammies with buttonhole elastic

Okay, buttonhole elastic is a marvelous invention.  Examine a lot of RTW toddler pants, and you'll find it installed in the back waistband.  It is, however, a bit hard to find locally.  At least where I live.  Hancock's used to sell it by the yard, but the Douglasville store closed when they closed down a lot of stores a few years back.  Joanns doesn't carry it, and neither does Hobby Lobby.  It is, however, readily available on the internet. I got mine from ebay for less than $1 a yard.

So you've got this adorable outfit for your baby that while it claims to be the correct size, is much too wide.  Since the size increments are in three-month intervals, you might need to do a fifteen-minute project to fix this so your child can get more wear out of it.  These are Alina's new jammies.  She's extremely slender, so I already know they'll be too wide. (I have two pairs I'll be adjusting here, so I may be using pictures interchangeably.

The first thing you need to do is make a casing.  I used leftover commercial quilt binding from Nikki's and Gracie's matching dresses.  The color doesn't matter, because this is on the inside, and it won't show from the outside.  You might, however, want to choose a color of thread that will blend in.

Decide how long you want it to be, cut it off, and hem the ends.  Since everything else will be topstitched, don't bother with hand hemming.

Next, place the new casing on the center back panel of the jammies.  You might want to take your seam gauge and measure to make sure that it's exactly on center.  Pin it and top stitch it down.  Be sure to go back and forth on the ends to completely lock it in place, because the ends will get a lot of wear.

On ready-to-wear garments that have the elastic, the buttons are sewn near the side seams.  There's no reason not to copy that, so you need enough elastic to reach where your buttons will be.  I measured by laying it over to top of the new casing.   Make sure that you have enough that it will be able to be buttoned on the last hole without gathering anything.  This will maximize the amount of time the baby can wear it.

The next thing to do is to cut it and heat seal the ends.  It'll stink, but heat sealing is the most efficient way to make sure that it won't ravel on you.  While you can cut and seal at the same time with a wood burner, I use a Bic lighter that I bought just for this.  I use it for ribbon, too.

Next, thread the elastic through the casing.  While there are fancy tools to do this, all you really need is a safety pin.  Make sure that the ends are even, and pin it through the middle of the casing.

Stitch through the middle to anchor the elastic.  Make sure to lock the ends in place because it'll have to withstand lots of tugging and pulling. 

Pin back the ends, and sew the buttons on in the side seams.  Smaller buttons are better, depending on the size of your buttonholes in the elastic.

Once this is done, you should be able to button the elastic to the side seams without any gathering at all.  The only thing that will show from the outside, if done properly, is the stitching!

After my next thrifting trip, I'll do another tutorial on how to make a RTW waistband adjustable!

This and that

Let me introduce y'all to someone.  This is Nikki.   She's two and a half months old, and just learned how to laugh.  Which is good, because her crying breaks the heart!    She's our Baby Bit and we're still figuring out how to cope with her, the colic, and her sister, Little Bit all at the same time.

Today, a lesson I'd learned two years ago was reinforced with a vengeance.  Did you know that as a parent/caretaker to a toddler, you're not allowed to use the bathroom alone?  It's true.  When I first learned this, (my mom said that she hadn't been allowed to use the bathroom alone for about twenty years by her calculations) Little Bit would stand at the end of the hallway where the baby gate was and call our names in the most heartbreaking way imaginable.  Since potty training, we're sometimes allowed to go alone.

I wasn't today.  I went to take a shower.  Nikki was with my mom and I guess Evie wanted to see me.  I'd stripped off my clothes when she walked in.  "Hey, Laura!  Whatcha doing?"

I told her I was about to take a shower.  "Okay, I leave door open so I can find you."  And then she stood there until I'd gotten in and shut the curtain.  Usually, I shower at night so that there can be two of us there--one for each child.  And LB is usually perfectly happy to climb into my lap to read stories or spend time coloring or finger painting.  But last night I'd just been too tired and fallen asleep instead.  I learned something else once I got out--I'm not allowed to get dressed by myself, either.  LB wanted to help pick out clothes for me to wear.  So, once again, she comes in to find me nekkid and trying to get on clothes without dropping the towel because I heard her following me to my bedroom!

 I swear, with my little duckling, I'm going to start teaching her to sew out of self-defense, because she wants to do everything "my Laura" does and also tries to 'help' when I'm sewing!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, Monday

I hate tulle.  I cut out the pieces of the dress, and fought with the tulle for the underskirts.  And miscut the front of the pinafore skirt, so I'm going to have to go buy more organza.  I hate that, too.  Both are so slidey, and the tulle especially has a problem with not only staying in one place when cutting finicky ruffles, but they wouldn't stay straight!  I'm now both looking forward to and  dreading my first smocking project--it's white organza with red swiss dots!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Return of the ruffle-butt panties

A few years ago, my sister, some friends, and I had a discussion about the joys of ruffle-butt panties when you're little.  (See, guys, that's the kind of discussions you have in girls' dorms!)  In the 80s, at least, they used to sell 'em all over the place.  And my grandmother, who bought the fancy clothes for us, bought them for my sisters and me for Sundays.  And they were to go with hard little Stride Rite Mary Janes, lacy socks, and ruffley dresses with full circle skirts.  Like the Lidl Dolly dresses.   I had dresses just like that, complete with parasols and even little white gloves and matching white hats for Easter.  After all, this is the South! 

I think dressing up for church, Christmas, and Easter lasted longer here than other places, but I digress.  There were jingle bells sewn into the petticoats, and even better, when you twirled around, everybody could see the ruffles on your butt!  Don't ask me why, but that was very important at three!

When we found out that Bit was a girl, I started looking for ruffle-butt panties.  After all, half the fun of having a little girl is dressing her up in pretty clothes.  And you have to get the lace and ruffles out of your system before they're old enough to object.  Long story short, numerous google searches led to porn sites (blech) but proved that they weren't commercially available.  And at the time, modern patterns didn't exist.  I had yet to discover vintage and while I did sew occasionally, I didn't make a habit of it at the time.   I was still spending free time writing stories.  (Which I still do sometimes.)

These days, there are free patterns for them on the internet, and when I went to look for new infant patterns for Cranky, I discovered that McCalls has released one.

This is McCalls 6345.  It's an infant pattern, which goes from size Small to Extra Large.  I honestly don't get the wings.  None of my nieces would wear them.  In fact, Bit was so annoyed by the wings we bought for her Halloween costume last year that she refused to wear any of it, and ended up being Scooby Doo.

I don't know if there are commercial versions, though I do know that diaper covers are few and far between because I made quite a few for Bit so that her diapers wouldn't show from beneath her skirts. 

To this day, I still tend to make matching undies to go with Bit's dresses, simply because she shows them off.  ;) She's three, and so thinks nothing about pulling her skirt over her head still.  Last year, my entire congregation saw the frilly, embroidered, lacy underpants I made last year. 1948 underthings

I'm planning on making a pair of ruffle-butts for Bit, too.  And I'm considering sewing a knit gusset into the inside just so they're functional as well as pretty.  What can I say?  I'm planning a couple 50s full-circle dresses for Bit for the twirl factor, so I might as well make the panties to go underneath so that she can show off the ruffles on her bottom the way me, her Mommy, her Aunt Sarah, and her Aunt Mary-Alice did when we were her age!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Progress, or lack therof

The dress shell is cut out, but I haven't cut out the netting underskirts yet, or the white organza pinafore.  I decided against doing the sash on the dress, because I'm making a frankenpatterned version of Vogue 7593, view b for the pinafore.   It's not exact.  I'm doing three double needle pintucks on the skirt, and I'm changing out the skirt to match the skirt of the dress and lengthening it by two inches.  The dress itself will be lengthened by three, giving me a one-inch leeway between the two before we factor in the pintucking.  Most likely, I'll hem it first before I put in the pintucks.

The pattern chosen (not by me this time) is copyright 1960, and it's McCall's 5463.  As I mentioned before, I'm lengthening it, leaving off the sash and belt carriers, and something else--I'm adding a Venice lace collar.  I'll also be making what I term the "does this make my butt look big" ruffle-butt panties to wear underneath, as well as a slip so the netting won't scratch her.

Both of those are from Simplicity 3296, which I believe is a 1950s pattern.  Yeah, I'm mixing decades, but the dress pattern is barely out of the fifties, and still has the full skirts.  If necessary, I'll make another fluffy tulle petticoat to wear underneath to get the maximum effect for the skirt.  And somewhere in there, I'm sewing a jinglebell into it so her parents can hear her coming!    Now, I'm doing view 2 for the slip--I have some lovely stretch beading lace that's nice and soft for the straps and top of the slip bodice.  And, of course, the lace on the underthings will all match. 

With a 1990s pinafore, a 1960s dress, and 1950s undies, this should hopefully not look too strange; after all, I'm doing something fairly classic!  Part of me wants to run from this.  I'd rather be making Evie's organza smocked dress.  But we owe her dad and this settles the debt.  I've bought some bows to go with it so that I don't have to make them.  Yes, I can now make bows, but that doesn't mean that I want to.  'Sides, it was less expensive to buy the bows rather than the ribbon I'd need to make 'em!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If wishes were fishes...

I wish I could say that I sew every day, or even all year round, but I don't.  Days like today that go on forever end up being no sewing days.  I did dig out the materials for my next project and checked the pattern for the pieces, but that's as far as I went.  I sew vintage quite a bit, which means that I have to check the patterns to make sure all the pieces are there because they're pre-owned.  I finished Penny's jumper this past weekend, but I didn't get around to taking pictures before I sent it home Monday.  I finished my last project and sent it home yesterday, though-- Butterick 3405.

It was meant to coordinate to the Hollywood dress I made for Bit--I used the leftover bits and made it in the same fabric.  As usual, I put up a review of it.  And I've used my favorite trick for the tucks.  If it weren't for a certain vintage repeat, I never would have had the epiphany--transfer the tuck markings from the pattern and then everything lines up straight and even and you even have lines to follow to sew on!

Tomorrow, I'm starting a procrastinated project--a pinafore dress for a friend of ours' daughter.  He did us a huge favor by going through my dad's medical records so as to convince VA to pay my mom the survivor's benefits that they owed her and she promised my labor on a fancy dress for his baby girl.  Hello frankenpatterning and vintage 50s with jingle bells sewn in the petticoats!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I think my sister needs to die.  She's talking about dumping her two kids here in the middle of August for three days.  I love my sister... mostly.  (Those who have siblings know what I'm talking about!)  She has a three-year-old who ought to be renamed "Destruction" and a one-year-old with motor delays whose a handful all by herself.  Add the two we usually have and the fact that it's Monday and Tuesday which are the days when we have the girls from 7am to 5pm and you have a recipe for killing my sister.  Destruction acts out ALL THE TIME.  I think that she doesn't pay enough attention to him, but it's not something I can remedy in three days in which I have Little Bit and her sister, Crabby AKA Nikki.  Nikki is colicky, which means that she cries more often than not and you simply can't put her down.  And Bit is still adjusting to not being an only child and the fact that Crabby is not an easy baby makes it worse.  We try, and so do her parents, but I can't devote all my time to her anymore.  She's used to having all the adults to play with and read to her and it's just not like that now.  So she's gotten a little whiny.  Not bad, but for a fairly laid-back kid, it's a not-insignificant change.  I keep telling myself that we will survive Nikki's colic.  After all, she's two months, and it can't last past three or four.    But throw two more kids into the mix who don't really know us and it's a recipe for trouble!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sick, tired, but doing a happy dance

In the words of Balki Bartokomous, "Now we are so happy, we do the dance of joy!"  (Yeah, showing my age!)  I haven't been posting because I've had a stomach bug that I'm not entirely over.  But I was having serger problems.  I didn't realize that I didn't have to completely remove the blade to make it not cut, and during normal serging it was turning edges over like for rolled hems.  After studying the manual, and hemming and hawing over it I figured out not only how to turn the interior dial to disengage the cutter, but that I didn't put it all the way back in when I put it back.  So I have now fixed it, and it's ready to go for next time!    I know my followers are few, but is there anything y'all would like to see?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Even though I've had a migrane for the past two days, but I've been sewing.  Blogging is another story!  I decided that doing a rolled hem was best for the facing on the dress, but majorly screwed it up due to the cutting blade on the serger.  (I've never managed to figure out the rolled hem foot on my Pfaff 1222E) It's missing a large chunk out of the middle, and I don't have the fabric to replace it, so it'll just have to stay that way.  I should've held onto the scraps for longer! I had another set of facings to do for another project, so I was dreading it.  Facings tend to be on the curvy side, which is harder with my serger than with my regular sewing machine 'cause it's harder to see what I'm doing. 

And then it came to me.

The blades on sergers are designed to be removable so that you can switch them out when they get dull.  So before I switched it over to three threads for doing a rolled hem, I removed the cutting blade.  It worked perfectly!  I got a gorgeous rolled hem going around the facing of Evie's new summer shirt without much fuss.  I wish I'd thought of it earlier!

Anyway, Nikki's dress is finished except for sewing on the butterfly patch in front.  And Gracie's new shorts set is also done except for sewing on the strawberry patch.  Pictures tomorrow.  Right now, I need a dark room and no babies crying!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

jumper dress and other sewish things

I'm making a jumper dress for Nikki.  I took the shirt from McCall's 5825 and changed out the sleeve for a puffed one.  I borrowed it from the dress in the same pattern.  Yes, you can do that.  Actually, I could take a sleeve the same size from any old pattern and do it because unlike RTW, pattern sizes have been standardized for years.  And a puffed sleeve can be made to fit into any opening because it's gathered.  The collar is a peter pan, which if I can find a good enough match to the jumper fabric, I'll be trimming with rick rack to give it scalloped edges.  Rick rack bends better than lace, and it's less itchy for baby's delicate skin.

I'm making it from white cotton/poly batiste and some value buttons.

It'll be paired with Simplicity 5374.  I'm making that from the skirt I showed y'all yesterday.  The stripes aren't going to match up, but since it's only at the side seams, I've decided that I don't care.  I'm going to buy a patch for the front tomorrow when I pick up the buttons and a couple more patterns.  The skirt was some sort of cotton/poly blend, and I'll be using the same buttons on it that I'm using on the shirt.  It should be cute, and considering that it's only about 1/2 yard of fabric in the shirt, and I got it on sale for $1.95/yard, this whole outfit will only run around $3.  Now that's sewing on a budget!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

early morning stuff

Gracie and Nikki (Little Bit and Baby Bit) are here this morning, which gives me a chance to put LB's new outfit on her!  Definitely looks like a little girl!  The bows in her hair were an experiment, too.

This is mt first successful set of bows.  I made a little set, too, and a pair of clippies.
I made a little mistake lining the alligator clips--I did one upside down. Lucky for me, I was doing tuxedo bows on top, so it doesn't really show. Much.
This is the skirt that a jumper for Nikki is going to come from.  As of right this minute, it's no longer a skirt.  I've taken apart RTW stuff before, but never has it been so easy.  I literally ripped the seams apart with my bare hands. The only thing that didn't come out easily was the hem and the buttonholes.  Which I might leave in place anyway and turn the waistband into straps for Nikki's jumper!  

This wasn't well constructed, I think.  I mean, how good can the construction be when I can grab hold of either side of the seam, pull, and have the entire thing rip apart?  But hey, it's donated fabric, so this is going to be an inexpensive project.  Story time for LB now.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone had a good holiday.  I celebrated my no-baby day by taking a nap.  And then ironing the interfacing on BB's new dress and LB's new shorts set and her tractor set.  BB's new dress is the closest to complete, but it still needs the strawberry patch sewn on the front.  I made it a theme--two of the four buttons are strawberry seed buttons and the other two are strawberries.  I'm thinking of adding another patch to the matching diaper cover, but I have to get to the store to buy one, first.  We'll see.  I've been acquiring a few more infant patterns, because honestly, I just don't have a lot of them!  Anyway, hope y'all had a good holiday, and I have the girls here tomorrow!

Tomorrow, I'll have pictures of my bow experiment--tractor bows to match the outfit. (Yes, I have lost my mind!)  And most likely pictures of LB wearing the whole shebang.    Tomorrow, I'll try to start an up-cycling project--an old skirt that was with some donated fabric into a dress for BB.  I'll use some of my batiste reserve to make a shirt to go underneath with a little peter pan collar and she'll have a cute little dress.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday, no sew, but....

I had planned on doing a tutorial today on using buttonhole elastic to make footie jammies fit slender babies, but, well, perhaps that's better left until I can also do a how to fix RTW pants and make them fit with it, too.  Today, I didn't sew, because it's Sunday.  However, Baby Bit doesn't have dresses for church, and she's almost grown out of last week's dress.  Finances are tighter than ever, so Auntie Laura's fabric stash comes to the rescue again.  I'll need to buy a few patterns, because to be honest, my infant collection is more than a little small.  My largest single size is size 2, because Gracie has been a 2 for a year and a half.  So I cut out a dress and enlarged the IBBD pattern so that it'll also fit 13-18 pounds.  That's actually the commercial pattern 1-3 months.  (The IBBD says it's 1-3, but only fits up to 11 pounds.) It cost me an hour of effort and a couple pieces of parchment paper, but I now have a new pattern.  As soon as I trace off a darker copy, I'll send a scan to the original author of the pattern.  In the meantime, I'll start making some simple dresses for BB.   Like New Look 6970.  I made the romper last year, and I already cut it out from the remnants of the seersucker from LB's new shorts outfit.  I have stashed strawberry buttons I can close it with, and a strawberry patch to go in the center.  I have the fabric.  I can get the patterns.  And BB will look cute as a button when I'm done!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

As promised...

Okay, as promised yesterday, here is the Bit's newest dress.  My, it's a good thing she loves dresses!  The pattern calls for piping around the waist, but I didn't want to fight with piping while dealing with a perpetually cranky baby and an active toddler.  So instead, I used the same Dritz commercial quilt binding that finishes off the bottom.  I lined the bodice with pink, redrafted the back so it's a smidge higher than the front, and added a pink ribbon bow to the front as well.  Oh, and the skirt is a bit longer than spec (Bit needs 23 inch long dresses to hit her at the knee)  and wider because I was being lazy--rather than measure to their width, I just cut off the selvedge edges and sewed it together.  Should be great for twirling!  

Bit is tall for her age, so lengthening it was a must-do, as it is with most of her clothes.  I've learned not to rely on the original patterns for length because they're based on average, and she's the product of my 6'6 brother and his 5'11 wife.  Some of her RTW dresses are actually 4T just for the length!

And I made one for Baby Bit as well!  Actually, it was the one I made for the shower last week that made this a must.  Joanna looked at me, looked at the dress, looked at Nikki and then pouted.  She wanted one, and she knows that I'd do anything for the girls.  Luckily, I had the fabric on hand because I bought it in place of paying for shipping over on  The only changes to the 1-3 month version is raising the line of the back and putting a ribbon bow on the front. Lengthening it isn't necessary just yet, but it might be by this time next year. I would recommend labeling the pieces, though, because they look exactly the same!

And now our girls will match once again.  When I can get the patterns in the right sizes, I just can't resist making coordinating and/or matching outfits!

My project for today will be converting some footie PJs for Lizzie in the spirit of Make and Mend.  She's a year old and gets mistaken for a six-seven month old baby all the time.  We got her some brand new clothes off Target clearance, but she's so slender that unless I do something, they'll be horrifically baggy.  Lucky for me, buttonhole elastic is a great invention!

Lots of commercial baby and toddler clothes have adjustable elastic waistbands.  I examined some of Bit's last year and figured out how to convert clothes so that they have similar waistbands.  I can adjust RTW clothes with some judicious use of my seam ripper so that they can have adjustable waistbands, too.  I got the buttonhole elastic off ebay, and I have plenty of buttons the right size in my collection.  (Joanns in my area doesn't sell it; Hancock used to, but they closed down in my town.)  So today, I'll be adding elastic to the back of the PJs, and I'll take pictures.  Tutorial, anyone?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Itty Bitty dress and enlargement.

Today, I sewed together the 1-3 months version of the Itty Bitty Baby Dress and it's toddler version.  It's not quite finished yet, because I goofed and sewed the binding to the right side of the fabric instead of the wrong side, but it's almost there.  It's made from white Moda girlie girl sunflower fabric with pink lining and pink binding.  Both of them are made to match; they're sister dresses.    I also redrafted the bodice of the dress so that it has a back and a front, and I'm adding a ribbon bow to the front so that they're easy to tell apart.  As soon as I finish the rest of the hemming (I hem by hand) and iron and sew on the bows, I'll post pictures.  It's hard juggling sewing and two little girls.  Harder than I ever thought it would be!