Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween 2013: Strawberry Shortcake

It kills me how all of these things that were popular when I was a little girl have made a strong comeback!  My girls love Strawberry Shortcake and they had no doubt who they wanted to be for Halloween this year!  But boy...Strawberry Shortcake has changed a little bit since I was a kid!


The ruffly pinafore is gone and now she's all modern and trendy.  And she and all of her friends own little shops?  What the heck?  Times have changed.  Anyway, Strawberry's new look probably made this costume easier to make, so no complaints here :)  Plus I was able to make most of it from stuff in my stash and both costumes only cost about $12 total!  Woot woot!


For the dress, I made a basic "t-shirt attached to a skirt" dress.  There are a million tutorials for these, so I'll spare you the details.  However, I did make my t-shirt from scratch using the Terrific Tee pattern from Whimsy Couture.  If you make the t-shirt yourself, I would recommend doing your applique before you assemble the shirt.  It will be much easier!  I cut my t-shirt pieces out and applied some lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the shirt front where the applique was going to be placed.  I then used a diamond template and a strawberry template I found online and cut the pieces out of my fabric.  I attached the pieces to the shirt with some Steam-a-Seam Lite and then did an applique stitch (I used my buttonhole stitch) all the way around the design.  The applique stitch isn't absolutely necessary, but I know this dress is going to get a lot of wear, so I wanted to make sure the applique doesn't fray or peel up after repeated washing.


Oh those iconic Strawberry Shortcake tights!  I have to say, I am pretty pleased with how they turned out considering I completely winged it.  I used the thicker type of cotton tights and some acrylic paint.  Fabric paint would probably have been ideal, but the acrylic paint was cheaper and available right where I was shopping when I decided to do this and so that's what I used.  I took a thin piece of cardboard (like the kind that comes slipped inside tights when you first buy them from the store) and placed it down inside the leg of the tights.  I taped off the stripes with painters tape and then applied paint in between.  Once it dried, I flipped the leg over and wrapped the ends of the tape from the front side around the leg to make sure the stripes would be even all the way around.  I added more tape to make sure everything was covered and painted the other side.  After they were all painted and dry, I gave them a quick spin in the dryer to set the paint.  I have not yet tried to wash them, but if they work for an hour of trick-or-treating, I'll be happy!


The girls are loving the hats and they've just been wearing them around the house over the past couple of days.  I'm planning to post a short tutorial on making the hat tomorrow to save people from the trial and error I went through to make these!!  The end result was good but they definitely took longer than expected.


This picture cracks me up.  Maybe they should have gone as comedy and tragedy?  Left twin was ecstatic to have her costume done and to be outside.  Right twin was extremely upset that it was cold outside (54 degrees, to be exact) and did not want to participate in photos.  Sadly the midwest weather forecast for Halloween is not great...rain and temps in the 50s for trick-or-treat time.  I guess we'll be wearing coats over our costumes as usual.  


At least a dancing sister always gets a smile!  Wishing everyone a very safe and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wrapping Up Summer

Wow, you guys.  This summer has been cuh-razy!  Aside from the normal stuff like a pair of 3 year olds who beg daily to go to the park or the zoo, I also took on the role of Coordinator for the MOPS group at my church.  With all the planning for that, plus entertaining the kiddos, there was not a lot of sewing going on around here!  Our first MOPS meeting of the year was last Friday, so I can relax a bit now.  I have a huge stack of fabric waiting to be turned into fall clothes for the girls and there is the big girl quilts project to finish too!  We took the plunge over Labor Day weekend and put the girls into twin beds, so now I really need to get the quilts done.  Right now they have the plain white duvet inserts on their beds, but in the rare event they actually even use a blanket (is that just my kids or does every toddler completely reject all coverings?) they are still using their crib quilts.  Yay, more reason to procrastinate :)  

I guess I honestly don't make a lot of summer clothes for the girls except for dresses because seriously...shorts and t-shirts are so cheap and I'm slightly obsessed with Carter's so the girls always end up with about 12 pairs of shorts each before I ever sew a stitch.  One thing I did want to make for them was one of these adorable sunsuits!  I have made so many for other people and I know the girls are getting past the age where they can get away with wearing something like this, so I needed to get it done this year!


This is once again the ridiculously cute ruffled sunsuit by Little Lizard King.  I was super surprised when I found this awesome chevron print fabric at JoAnn's!  The quality is so-so...it's a little thin, but it works pretty well with the bubbly, ruffly quality of the sunsuit pattern.  I am in love with hot pink and orange and the girls definitely love it too!  


All the fabrics are from the quilting cotton wall at JoAnn's and I love how they came together!  It's so bright and summery!  I went the lazy route with the ruffles this time and just serged the bottom edges instead of hemming all of them.  It saved me a ton of time and I still think it looks good!


I took these photos at the entrance to our zoo!  It was a great outfit for a hot, hot day at the zoo!  I'm pretty sure the girls are picking the flowers...whoops.  It's hard to take photos and discipline children at the same time, so my apologies to the zoo groundskeepers :)  


I just can't get over the cuteness of the huge bow in back.  Even though it makes them look even more frighteningly identical, I had to do pigtails so the big bow could be showcased and not covered up by their hair!  Besides, who doesn't adore a toddler girl in pigtails?  


We've had so many fun trips to the zoo this summer!  I'm so glad it stays open until October so we can enjoy it for a little longer!  Hopefully the pace of fall will be much slower and I'll be back on the sewing and blogging train!  I am excited for cooler temperatures and some cute fall looks.  Time to get some things cut so I can share with all of you!  I'd love to hear about your summer!  What fun things did you do with your family?  Did you sew a lot or does summer sewing take a back seat to summer fun like it did at our house?  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Say Hello to The Sally Dress!

This summer, I was really excited to be chosen as a pattern tester for Shannon of luvinthemommyhood's newest dress pattern, The Sally Dress!  



This dress pattern is utterly charming!  It's full of vintage-esque details, but it still feels fresh and modern.  For my first tester version, I choose the elbow length sleeve option.  Combined with the square neckline, I think it gives the dress a classic, elegant, Jackie O feeling.



My favorite part of this dress has to be the pockets!  How great are they?  The give the dress a touch of whimsy and seriously...kids adore pockets!  I chose a complimentary fabric in this version to let the pockets stand out just a bit more.



The Sally Dress is beautifully designed, inside and out!  The little details Shannon added in the construction are fabulous and make the inside just as special as the outside.  The bodice is fully lined and all the seams are enclosed, including the skirt seam.  The directions for encasing the seams are super clear and easy to follow.  Even if you are an experienced sewer, you will love the clever way she puts everything together!  Here's a view of the beautifully lined sleeve seam.



This is a great dress for all seasons with three different sleeve options - sleeveless, short sleeves and elbow length sleeves.  For my second tester version I did a sleeveless dress which I purposely made a bit large so I can save it for next summer!



On this version I kept the fabric the same for the body of the dress and the pockets and I love it this way as well!  I think you could really do some fun mixing and matching of prints between the bodice, skirt and pockets if you wanted to really go all out!



I honestly have no idea what this pink fabric is since it was given to me and had no selvages on it!  The gorgeous green, yellow and gray print fabric is from the DS Quilts collection at JoAnn's.  I've had my eye on it for awhile and this dress was the perfect chance to use it!



Overall, I highly recommend this pattern!  It has great versatility and a gorgeous silhouette.  It really satisfies my need for that slightly vintage feel that I prefer in children's clothing, but is still really up to date.  It's a pretty easy sew, too!  I'd give it an intermediate rating, simply because of the technique involved in lining the bodice, but if you felt really lazy needed to sew it more quickly and easily, you could use standard seams.  I'll be honest...I did in my second version because I was running out of time!  






And now, many more pictures of my girls in this extremely cute dress :)











Thanks to Shannon for allowing me to test this adorable pattern and for all the great, open communication during the testing process!  Now go get your copy right away!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Junebug in July

It's still July, although barely!  This summer is racing by as summer always does.  We're packing our days with fun and enjoying the weather that has taken a turn for the better in the midwest.  We've been blessed with some beautiful days in the 70s and it's been fabulous!

Sewing has continued, although not much of it has been for the girls.  I've done a few projects for friends of mine and I've been gathering up supplies and patterns for the girls' fall wardrobe.  Sunday, the girls finally got to wear this Junebug dress that I made nearly two years ago!  This was made with Jess' original tutorial, but she has made it into a fully graded pattern now!  Woot woot!  



I think the sizing of the original tute is a bit generous, because my girls are very tall for their age and wear a lot of 4T dresses.  The tute says it's a 2T/3T but it fits them quite well.  


Yet another vintage sheet project, of course!  These gorgeous border print sheets blow me away.  I love the whiteness of the dress with the beautiful print at the bottom...so summery and delicate.


I really debated on the button selection and had to make myself not use the safer pink or blue choices.  I'm so glad I went with the bright yellow.  Those buttons really pop and make the dress a little more fun.


Hopefully everyone is having a great summer!  I have the semi-annual resale for our local multiples club this weekend and I'm ready to unload all the girls' outgrown stuff so I can make room for the new!  For now, it's time to run out for some more play!


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Park Tote: A Tutorial

Well, I warned you all that blogging would be a little sparse this summer!  I am still sewing, however, and I am super excited to bring you this new tutorial for a fun and useful bag I'm calling The Park Tote!


We're going for fun and functional with this bag!  It's a perfect bag for those summer day trips to the park or the zoo.  It features an extra long strap so it can be worn messenger bag style, keeping your hands free for strollers handles and toddler hands.  The inside has patch pockets on one side and a zippered pocket on the other side for plenty of secure storage.  Elastic straps hold water bottles or kid cups and the whole bag zips closed with a recessed zipper!  Yes, you will get over any zipper fears with this bag!  It's so simple, I promise!  We'll walk through it step by step together!


Two bottles of water and some Wheat Thins?  Sounds like perfect ammo for a morning at the park or the zoo!  On this side you can see the patch style pockets, which you can customize to fit your needs.


And on the opposite side, a zippered pocket for the more valuable necessities of the day like you drivers license, zoo pass and cash/credit card.


Finishing off the bag is a recessed zipper to ward off wandering hands (hopefully there are no pickpockets at the zoo, but those toddlers can be fierce!).  


Ready to make one?  Here's what you'll need:

- 1/2 yard main outer fabric
- 1/2 yard lining fabric
- 1/4 yard strap fabric
- scraps for zipper facings and interior pockets (about 1/4 yard total, depending on what colors you choose)
- 18-22" zipper for top
- 7" zipper for interior pocket
- 1 yard 1/2" elastic
- sewing stuff (machine, scissors, coordinating thread, rotary cutter/mat are helpful as is a measuring tape, a zipper foot will also be very helpful)

To get started, you need to cut all the pieces for the bag.  On my bag, I pieced together some coordinating chevrons and dots because I was using up scraps.  The measurements below are the finished size you need to cut for the outer pieces, so if you are piecing things together, you might want to piece it first and then cut it to size when you're done.

Main outer fabric: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 15" high 
Lining fabric: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 12.5" high
Zipper facings: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 2.5" high
Strap: cut 1 piece 56" long x 3.5" wide (you may have to sew two shorter pieces of fabric together)
Zippered interior pocket: cut 2 pieces 9" wide x 8" high
Patch pockets: cut 1 piece 15" wide x 5" high



Now we sew!  First we'll prepare the lining, which means pockets!  For the patch pocket, begin by ironing all four sides under 1/4".  Then stitch down one of the long sides.  This will be the top of your pocket.


Center the pocket on one of your lining pieces, right side of lining to wrong side of pocket.  I placed mine about 3" down from the top.  Sew the pocket to the lining piece around the remaining three edges, leaving the top open.  If you want to divide your pocket into smaller compartments, stitch a straight line from the top to the bottom of the pocket wherever you choose.  I divided mine into two compartments, one about 5" wide and the other 8" wide.  This is a good size for a travel hand sanitizer in one side and some tissues and sanitizing wipes in the other, but feel free to use measurements that suit your needs!


For the zippered pocket, take one of your pocket pieces and draw a rectangle on the wrong side of the pocket.  The rectangle should be centered about 1.5" from the top and measure 7" wide by 1/2" high.


With right sides together, pin this pocket piece to your other lining piece.  It should be centered about 2.5-3" from the top of the lining piece.  Sew right around all four sides of the rectangle you drew.


Now carefully cut right down the center of the rectangle, stopping about 1/4" from each end and snipping at an angle out to each corner.


Push the pocket piece through the hole you just cut so it is now wrong sides together with the lining piece.  Press well so you have a smooth rectangular window.


Flip the lining piece over so you are looking at the right side of the lining.  Center your zipper in the window and pin in place.  You can see I really pinned mine like crazy!  


Using your zipper foot, topstitch the zipper in place, going around all four sides.  Make sure you stay fairly close to the teeth so you catch the whole zipper.  To get around the zipper pull, leave the needle down in your fabric, lift the presser foot and slide the zipper pull until you have sewn all the way around.


Turn the lining piece back over so you are looking at the right side of the pocket piece.  Lay your other pocket piece on top, right sides together and stitch the pocket together around all four sides.  Make sure you just stitch the pocket together!  Don't stitch it to the lining :)


Admire your handiwork!  You just made a zippered interior pocket! 


Okay, while we're having so much zipper fun, let's get the main recessed zipper going for the bag.  If you are using thin cotton for your zipper facings, you might want to consider applying interfacing.  I fused some lightweight interfacing to both of my zipper facings and it gave them a lot more stability.  

First take one of your zipper facings and lay out your zipper face down lined up with one long edge.  The zipper pull should be right at the end of the facing.  Don't worry if the zipper hangs off the other end, we'll trim it later.  Using your zipper foot, sew along the top edge all the way down the zipper.


Then place that facing piece right sides together with one of your lining pieces so the zipper is sandwiched in between.  Stitch down the length of the zipper again, staying as close to or sewing right on top of your first line of stitches as possible.


You should now be able to take the facing and pull it up and over so it is wrong sides together with the lining and the zipper will be sewn in between them.


Now we're going to start adding layers, so if my explanation doesn't make sense, just look at the pictures :)  Take your second zipper facing piece and line it up with the other side of the zipper (the side you haven't sewn yet).  The facing should be right sides together with your first facing and the zipper will be face down on the facing.  Sew all the way down the zipper.


When you flip up the second facing, it will look like this.


Now grab your other lining piece and place it right sides together with the other linine piece (it should be up against the last remaining bare side of the zipper) and sew it all the way down.


When you flip everything open and press, it should look this this.  Two facing pieces wrong sides together with lining pieces and the zipper sandwiched in between on both sides.


We're hitting the home stretch now!  Time to finally use the pretty outer fabric for your bag!  Grab one main outer piece and sew it right sides together with one of the facing pieces (opposite from your zipper).  Flip it out and press.


Do the same with the other outer bag piece/facing.


As a final detail for the interior, let's add some elastic straps to keep water bottles and cups in place.  Note: in this picture, I only used one piece of elastic per side.  After using the bag, I found I really needed two pieces to hold a full water bottle upright.  So, do as I say, not as I photograph!  Grab your 1/2" elastic and cut four pieces, about 9.5" long.  Fold them in half with the raw edges together.  Take one side of your lining and pin the elastic along the sides.  Pin them as pictured, only use two pieces of elastic per side.  I would suggest pinning the top piece about 5" from the top of the bag and the second piece about 3.5'-4" below that.


For the strap, I would recommend applying interfacing for strength.  Iron each long side under 1/4" then fold the entire strap in half lengthwise and press.  Stitch down each long side.


Lay out the strap on the right side of the outer bag pieces as show, making sure the strap isn't twisted at any point.  The ends of the strap should overhang each end of the zipper just slightly.


Unzip the zipper at least halfway (very important!) and then pin the strap down on either side of the zipper.


Lay out the bag so the lining pieces are right sides together and the main outer pieces are right sides together.  Using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew all the around the bag, but be sure to leave about 4-5" open at the bottom of the lining so we can flip the bag right side out later!


To box the corners of the bag (so it will stand up and have a better shape), mark out a square at each bottom corner of the bag outer and the lining.  My square was 2.5".  Mark the square on both sides of the fabric.


Pinch the corner of the bag making a triangle so your lines meet going straight across and pin in place.


Sew right along the line and then trim off the excess fabric about 1/4" away from the seam.


Pull the bag through the hole you left at the bottom of the lining so both pieces are right side out.  Hand stitch or machine stitch the hole closed.


Push the lining back into the bag and press along the top edge between the zipper facing and the bag outer.  Topstitch 1/8" from the top edge to keep the lining securely inside.


And you're done!  I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will make one of these bags for yourself!  It's such a fabulous bag even if you don't have kiddos and all their stuff to cart around!  We keep it stocked with our park/zoo essentials!  Hand sanitizer, tissues, wipes, chapstick, sunscreen, water and snacks!  The long cross-body strap is a lifesaver for me because I always have a hand free for each twin, which is a necessity!    I made mine about 6 weeks ago and I think it's already the most used bag I've ever made.  So go make your own!  And enjoy summer!