Thursday, November 19, 2015

Striped Kimono Tee

While there is definitely sewing going on here, and even finishes(!), I seem to be having problems actually taking pictures of my stuff. I even made a Halloween costume for me, but failed to get decent pictures. So there is a bit of a backlog at this point. Hopefully, I'll start catching up soon! Anyway...

At the beginning of October (as a sort of Halloween costume sewing warm-up), I sewed up a couple of tops. This was the first:

striped kimono tee, front view

The fabric is a Misty Stretch Slub Jersey Stripe Pink/Multi, 96% Poly/4% Lycra ITY knit I picked up from last year. I was initially thinking it for a skirt, but it is a pretty thin, drape-y knit that seemed better-suited to a t-shirt (i.e., I didn't want to have to do a lining). Enter the MariaDenmark Kimono T-Shirt pattern (which is currently a free download when you sign up for her newsletter). Note that there are no seam allowances included in this pattern. I arbitrarily decided to add 3/8" seam allowances.

striped kimono tee, back view

I made a quick and dirty muslin of the size Large a few months ago (no pictures of that) and determined I wanted/needed to do an FBA. Conveniently enough, MariaDenmark even has instructions for doing a dartless FBA.

striped kimono tee, side view

I think it worked pretty well! I really like the way this fits on me. And, while not perfect, I am definitely pleased with the stripe matching I managed. I made sure to stabilize the shoulder seams with some nylon stay tape and also used a knit fusible stay tape along the neckline. I used my coverstitch machine for the hems.

striped kimono tee, side view 2

Love it!!! I have been wearing this top every week since I completed it. I definitely want to make more and have my eyes peeled for potential fabric candidates.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Halloween 2015: Jay from Ninjago

inspiration picture of Jay from Lego Ninjago
This year for Halloween, Little Bear decided he wanted to be the character Jay from Lego Ninjago. It was a pretty appropriate choice for him, as he is into all things Lego and ninja right now (he is even enrolled in a Ninja Zone gymnastics class!).

Ninja Jay collage

This costume was pretty straightforward. I used Simplicity 1037, using views A, B, D, and F and made the size 4. I was really pleased with the fit-- I measured him and everything fits very true to size (a pleasant surprise compared to some of their adult patterns!).

A couple things to note about the pattern: It does not include any instructions/advice for the additional ties (arm/wrists and legs) pictured on the cover. That wasn't a big deal (and I ended up not using them), but I was fully expecting them to be included somehow as they are pictured. Also, the instructions for finishing the tabard piece (D) are pretty lacking... I fudged my way through the suggested bias binding, but it is far from pretty. But, you know, galloping horse and all that. (Thank goodness!)

The only modifications I made to the pattern were to add shoulder armor to the tabard and then create the headband (both self-drafted). I was pretty happy with how the shoulder armor turned out, but the weight of the armor pieces pulled the tabard backward (making them appear to be shoulder-blade armor-- doh!). So I added some velcro to the underside of the tabard shoulders to connect with the top of the robe shoulders in order to help hold everything in place. It helped some, but the fix was no match for my active ninja boy! He could easily defeat the velcro with all of his jumping-crouching ninja moves. But for trick-or-treating, it worked fine.

Ninja Jay, action 1

This was a fun costume to make.

Ninja Jay, action shot 2

And I know he is happy because he has asked to wear it every day since I finished it!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Halloween 2015: The Purple General

Purple Shogun concept art, from 17-Bit
Hope you had a fun and happy Halloween! I know it was a week ago, but I still want to document my costume work for this year. I'll start with the most complicated of the costumes made, The Purple General.

The video game of the year for Big Bear has been an indie game called, Skulls of the Shogun from 17-Bit.

One of the characters is a purple shogun, and that's what he decided he wanted to be. Mama did her best to make it happen:

Purple Shogun collage

This was a pretty involved costume! I used the character art and also found some pictures of traditional samurai and shogun garb to guide me. I ended up working in layers:
  • Black t-shirt and sweatpants-- purchased,
  • Bolero jacket with armored arms-- Butterick 4385 with self-drafted armor plating,
  • A sash around the neck and a wide brocade belt-- Simplicity 1037,
  • An armor-plated skirt-- self-drafted,
  • and, last but not least,
  • The helm-- a lampshade base and a LOT of modification.

Purple Shogun helm collage

The helm seemed like the most important part to me, so that is where I started. It took a full week, 2-4 hours a day, to put it together. Supplies included the lampshade (and special wire cutters to cut it), black spray paint, duct tape, satin, foamboard, acrylic paint, Peltex, headliner foam, elastic, knit jersey, ribbon, Poly-fil, Nu-foam, fusible web, and (of course) some hot glue. There was also quite a bit of sewing involved in piecing the various parts.

Shogun helm, view of inside

Here's a picture of the inside. You can see the chin strap and the foam headliner I used to pad his noggin from the lampshade support crossbars at the top. And lots of duct tape.

I wish I had thought to take pictures in process, but in the thick of creation and problem-solving, pictures tend to be very far from my brain.

Thankfully, all of the disparate pieces came together in a pretty cohesive way and resulted in a very happy Purple General:

Purple Shogun, ready to strike

Worth it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Alpha Animals

Yikes! Time flies, right? I'm afraid that back-to-school this year has been a challenge. One in half-day kinder, another in third grade, two different schools... I'm still trying to find a routine that balances me-time with volunteer work (PTA, classroom, HOA, etc.), chores and the have-to-get-dones. While I am getting some crafting time, blogging has had to fall to the wayside. That's why it has taken so long to get to this quilt:

Alpha Animals, front view

I finished it back in July but didn't manage to gift it until late August. But I'm finally getting it blogged now!

This quilt started from some oops blocks. The blocks were fine, but they just were not working in the quilt for which they were intended so I switched them out. They were kind of a funky size though, so I ended up designing this quilt to make use of them (I couldn't let this cute fabric go to waste!).

Here is the Electric Quilt design image:

Alpha Animals, Electric Quilt mock-up

Pretty close! Gotta say, EQ is a really helpful design tool.

Alpha Animals, quilting detail

The quilting is pretty simple: a stipple over most; straight lines in the aqua areas, and a cute orange peel cross in the yellow parts.

Alpha Animals, quilting detail

I used various coordinating colors of Aurifil 50/2 for the quilting, including white (2024), light turquoise (2805), and medium butter (2130).

Alpha Animals, back view

Most of the fabric, including the back (pictured above), came from my stash (yay!), though I had to purchase the striped background/border fabric.

Alpha Animals, label

This quilt was given to baby Clark.

Alpha Animals, draped over a railing

I have it on good authority that he loves it! Yay!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sun hats for the fam

It's taken a few years, but I've finally gotten around to making a Betz White Reversible Bucket Hat for me! Not only that, but I even made one for my husband and a new one for Little Bear.

Reversible bucket hats, small, large, x-large

After measuring our noggins, I made a Small for Little Bear, Large for me, and X-Large for my husband. The sizing in this pattern is spot-on. Each of us got a great fit.

Reversible bucket hats, view of lining

Motivation for hat-making came in the form of a family kayaking adventure. We signed up for a tour and in the instructions, it suggested that participants have hats to protect from the sun in the open water. Since Big Bear was the only one with a hat that fit, I got to work on hats for the rest of us.

All four of us wearing our hats

And now the whole fam is rockin' the bucket hat!

Hubby and I wearing our hats

We got a lot of use out of these hats this summer after our kayaking tour. They came in handy for trips to the beach, visits to the zoo, and on many hikes. The unstructured nature of this design makes it perfect for shoving in a bag or backpack. Now I'm thinking I may need to get some water-repellent fabric so I can make some rain hats!

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Playtime" for baby!

After being completed for a couple months, I was finally able to put the finishing touch (label!) on this quilt and gift it a couple of weeks ago.

Playtime, front

I call it "Playtime" because the prints and colors are so dang happy and cute! That, and the pattern it is from is called "Playful" and I couldn't very well call mine the same thing. :) The design is from Cluck, Cluck Sew and it is an awesome, fun quilt to put together. The instructions are fabulous.

The print fabrics are from the Windham Fabrics "Little Menagerie" collection by Melanie Hurlston. I bought a fat quarter back of them back in 2010. So this project also gets cheers for stash-busting!

Playtime, back view

Pieced backs are a bit more work, but they are so fun. And I love being able to put the remaining scraps from the front to use!

Playtime, binding detail

I even snuck a bit of stripe into the binding.

Playtime, back view showing quilting texture

I kept the quilting simple on this one with an all-over meander using Aurifil Mako 50/2 thread in 2130 ("Medium Butter"). It is soft and snuggly.

Playtime, label

And, to finish it off, the label.

Playtime, another front view

The quilt was happily received by mama and baby. Yay!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Controlling the chaos: jewelry

Lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter and general chaos that surrounds me in my home. I am determined to improve my situation! As a first step, I decided to tackle the top of my dresser:

the top of my very messy dresser

The bulk of the above mess is my pile of jewelry. The pile is not only messy, but it is difficult to find, extract, and untangle pieces (particularly from the bottom of the pile!). I have been eyeing jewelry storage racks for a couple of years now and then stumbled across a tutorial from Home Depot: "DIY Jewelry Organizer Made from a Salvaged Drawer." I didn't have any drawers laying about, but I was able to find a base:

The wood base

I found this one at Jo-Ann's (and I was able to use a 50% coupon for it-- yay!). Then I pretty much followed the tutorial.

after one coat of off-white paint

I started by sanding and then painted the piece with an off-white acrylic craft paint.

after one coat of navy blue paint

Then I sanded again and painted with a navy blue.

after sanding the navy blue paint

Then I sanded again to give it that distressed look with the white base peeking through.

mapping out where the hardware should go

Next I mapped out where to put the hardware. I chose a mix of knobs and a couple of pulls and then lined the bottom edge with hooks. I gotta say-- the hardware was not cheap. I think I spent about $28 on the pulls and knobs, purchased from Home Depot and another local hardware store. I am sure I could have been thriftier about it, but I decided the convenience was worth it. Fortunately, the wood was inexpensive and I already had the other supplies. So the project was not a budget-breaker. And it was still a lot less than the jewelry racks I was looking at on etsy!

using a paper template to mark hardware positioning

Using a paper template taped it to the front of the rack, I marked where each piece of hardware was to go. When I went to make the holes, I drilled through the template-- that way I didn't have to mark up the front of the jewelry rack. It worked really well. And I successfully used a drill for the first time and I survived to tell the tale. Yay!

Completed jewelry rack, back side

In the above picture, you can see the back after all of the hardware was installed. Just above the rack, you can see the paper template I used (with all of the holes).

And here is the completed front view:

Completed jewelry rack, front side

Finally, I got it hung on the wall and loaded it up:

Completed jewelry rack, in situ

Check out that tidy dresser top! And now I can actually see and easily find all of my jewelry. Success!