Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Project Run and Play Week #4 Love is for the Birds....

I tend to think of Valentine's Day as a fun day to celebrate how much I love my little family.  My kids and I have plans to dress up and go get a nice dinner on Friday after Valentines day, but that is usually the extent of our celebration.

The inspiration for my outfit came from a fabric remnant I found last year with little birds sitting inside of a heart made of vines and flowers.  Ironically enough it reminded me of my former disdain for Valentine's day and I instantly decided to call my outfit "love is for the birds!"

A few months back I had raided my stash of fabric looking for fabrics that could be paired together.  I liked the way the brown striped fabric pulled out the browns and pink in the bird fabric and decided that they would be a pair.

I actually started this outfit with another piece.  (I thought this was the men's shirt week.  Oops, well I am ready for next week too!)  The light blue chambray fabric came from my men's shirt, and the main piece that I made out of the men's shirt I decided to save for next week.

I wanted to make a dress to go underneath.  Last year I bought a ton of white turtlenecks on clearance at Wal-mart for $1 each.   My daughter hates turtlenecks.   I knew I needed to try something with them, so I chopped of the neck and created a ruffle around the neckline that I encased in pink bias tape. 

Since prior sewing mistakes have led me to realize that it is important that the shirt actually fit over the child's head, I sewed a Henley placard onto the back encasing my rough edges of ruffles and bias tape.  Then I used three different vintage buttons from my stash to close up the back.

Next I added a skirt onto the shirt at a higher waistline, gathering it so that it would make it full and poofy!

When I tried it on my daughter the sleeves on the former turtleneck were too long, then I accidentally cut them too short.....oops :-)!  So I decided to add ruffles to the sleeves as well in the same striped fabric which turned out perfectly.

I really wanted the outfit to have layers so I started working on a knot dress to go on the top.  I have made knot dresses before so pretty much use my own drafted pattern that I altered from a McCall's Pattern.  I used the chambray from my men's shirt and the bird fabric.  Since the bird fabric was a remnant I didn't have enough of it and I wanted the skirt to be lined.  So I had the idea to open up the back of the dress so that it would drape open and create a button closure only at the top.  I used two more mismatched vintage buttons for this section as well.

This served two purposes, I wanted this outfit to last more than just the winter.  With the length of the open backed knot dress she can use as a shirt over a pair of pants.

Finally, I really wanted to do some applique.  I had an idea for a nest with appliqued eggs and the nest just made out of strips of fabric.   I couldn't find any plain brown fabric in my stash, but I did find tan bias tape that was leftover from a project and used it in strips to create the nest.  I appliqued the eggs first, then just started sewing on the strips of bias tape until I made the nest. 

Before I attached the apron to the knot dress I tried both the under dress and knot dress on her to see how they fit.  I realized that both pieces really needed a sash, but two sashes when the dresses were worn layered would be a bit overkill.   Instead I attached the apron to a removable sash.   I put button holes in the sides of the sash and then attached buttons to both the knot dress..........

and the underneath dress........

This made the apron interchangeable between the two dresses. (the apron is reversible too, plain on the other side for those kinds of days)!

In the end the outfit was even better than the original sketch that I had made of the dress in the first place.  Also, my Aria has been carrying around this stuffed kitty everywhere she goes and I decided the kitty needed a matching outfit.  So she has a knot dress and ruffle pants!  I learned a lot of things about sewing for a stuffed animal, things I will share in a later post!

So here is my ode to Valentine's Day..........

Let's be honest......"Love is for the Birds!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Summer Time Planning

So confession time....... I am a bit of a horder. Not in the creepy "I just found month old food" sort of way, but in the plan ahead sort of way.  I am a compulsive bargain shopper. I have had times when there hasn't been enough money, you never want to have to find something full price when you don't have money to spend.
So I stockpile children's clothing and sewing supplies. I make sure that I buy clothing at least one to two sizes bigger than my children currently are and place them in tubs.  Buying everything on clearance or at resale shops however, does not always guarantee that you will be able to buy complete outfits.  So starting midway through each season I pull out the next seasons clothing and take inventory.

I recently took inventory on my daughters clothing and developed the following list that I need to sew by the time the weather warms up.  So basically this is the list of some of the projects I will be blogging about in the next month or so.

1. Easter dress
2. Red and navy appliqué shirt with apples
3. White leggings. Two pairs one with ruffles one without.
4. Cream ruffle capris
5. Brown leggings with purple accents
6. White tank or t-shirt with navy blue with white lace bib.
7. Creme leggings
8. Tank dresses
9. Birthday outfit

I am sure there is more that I will think of later but there is the plan. As soon as project run and play is over I will be ready to get down to business.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Project Run and Play Week #3 Boy's Challenge

This week was the boy challenge.  This is a challenge for sure.  My son is always asking me to make things for him, but he is eight and cutesy stuff just won't do anymore.  Not long ago I had bought a pair of Banana Republic men's dress pants that I was sure that I could cut down and make nice dress pants for my son.  The material was high quality so I knew that it would hold up when sewing it.  

I took the whole pair of pants apart with the seem ripper.  See I have never made a pair of pants before that didn't have an elastic waistband.  I learned quite a bit about how pants should go together, but wish I had taken pictures of each step to help myself remember.

I outlined a pair of my sons skinnier pants and used it as the pattern to cut down these pants.  I really wanted to try and keep the pockets on the front and back which causes me to make them a little bit bigger than I had originally wanted to.

Once I had all the seams sewn and the zipper back in, I realized that they were too wide and had to reverse them on my son and pin them to make them smaller.  

The biggest issues I had were with the zipper and the waistband.  I have decided I will do some more research on this because while the pants turned out functional, they need some serious work.

In the end though the pants fit pretty well considering that it was my first attempt.......
For the top half of the outfit I found this sweater at the goodwill, it was a men's size small and still too big for my 8 year old.   I noticed it was wool and thought I would try and shrink it.   With some hot water it shrunk up at little, then I dried it and it shrunk up some more.  I was afraid I might have shrunk it too much but it turned out perfectly. 

Finally, I put a teal shirt underneath that was just sitting in my son's closet.   I am so thankful to be finished with this week and can't wait till next week as that outfit is almost done!

Brown Eyed Child

My son is half African American and half white.   He is an amazing little boy who loves math and is kind to everyone.  He has amazing brown eyes and eyelashes that I would kill for.  Today I choose to reflect on my son because there are many circumstances surrounding today that are amazing for my boy.  

For starters it is Martin Luther King Jr. day.  No words that I could put down could reflect how important of a role that this man has and will play in the life of my child.   He became the face of a movement that has allowed my beautiful little boy the same opportunities as other children who may have had white fathers.   Thank you is not sufficient.

In addition, today was the second inauguration of President Obama.   I refuse to get into politics, but what I will say is that this man has shown little boys like mine everywhere that you can do anything, even be President of the United States.

I wish I knew a way to more eloquently put the importance, but I fear my words will fail me.  Instead I am borrowing from the words of my mother.   She wrote the following passage in either late 2009 or early 2010.   It was during this time that President Obama wished to address the children of this nation for the first time.  There was some controversy.  Ultimately, what I remember of it all was my mother's reflection on the circumstances.  Here is what she said; entitled "Brown Eyed Child."

This morning I looked in the deep brown eyes of my grandson and told him that the president of the United States would be speaking to him by video today. In the enthusiasm that only a kindergartner can muster, he glowed with excitement. I showed him President Obama’s picture and said, “Look, he has curly hair too, just like you—in fact he looks very much like you.” He stared at the picture and I thought about the fact that through his veins ran blood from both slaves and those who owned slaves.

Last Friday, as a volunteer at the public school where my daughter teaches and my grandson attends, I helped to hand out the flyers which told parents about President Obama’s speech. In this school of “95% free and reduced lunch” where many children did not speak English, I wondered how having a president try to encourage children could be a bad thing. When the school day ended, I stood and watched as a sea of brown hair, legs, arms, and bodies exploded from the 100 year old building and surged toward the line of busses. I thought about the flyers in their backpacks and the president who wanted to encourage them.

While watching the news over the weekend, I thought about the direction of our country. Educated in both the halls of academia and the pews of churches, I am familiar with the arrows aimed by both and honor those who maintain integrity. I am a conservative, but not a “hooligan”--a believer in social justice, but not a socialist. Over the years I have been equally proud and embarrassed by both sides of the isle. Just as many of our representatives and senators hadn’t read the health bill, I wondered how many Americans hadn’t actually read the president’s speech. Not wanting to be among that number, I Googled the speech and read.

What I found in the speech may not mean much for affluent America, but it did speak to the children who I saw running for the busses last week. I thought back to my visit to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site in Topeka, Kansas where Monroe School stands as a reminder of America’s past with signs indicating areas for “colored” and “white”. I thought about my years in the Los Angeles area when I would see brown-eyed children looking out the windows of “integration busses” stuck in rush-hour traffic. I thought about the book, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, that I read to my pre-service teachers. I thought about all these things, and wondered if all Americans could, just for a moment, set their suspicions and agendas aside and allow our children to be proud of their president.

I told my grandson to listen well to this president who looked like him. I wonder if he is too young to understand when the president talks about having a single mother and how he missed having a father in his life. I know he is too young to make the connection between the president’s mother who taught him every day during his years in Indonesia and his own mother who is helping him learn his kindergarten sight words. I wonder if he will think of me when the president asks the children to listen to their grandparents. I hope so, and I also hope that I will somehow make a difference in the world he is going to inherit.

I hope he listens well today, this brown-eyed child who calls me Mema. I hope he listens when the president says, “We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems.” I hope all of us listen because the problems are great and the children need us to work together to make the world a better place.

So with her words I would just like to say, today was a good day for brown eyed children.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Project Run and Play Week #2 Stripes and Dots

The Segmented Stripes Skirt

This week's theme for Project Run and Play was stripes and polka dots.  As I said in my last post, stripes scare me to death.  This challenge turned out to be far more challenging than I had expected when my fabulous dress require being chopped down into a skirt.

In the end though I love how the outfit came out!

My inspiration for the outfit were the bright purple tights that I got at Wal-Mart on Clearance last year for $1.  I loved the color but had no outfits for my daughter that went with them, so I had to make one.   I wanted to use different colors with it and only us the purple as an accent color.

The skirt is a bubble skirt made out of polar fleece that I pieced together to make the perfect multi-directional stripe.

When I went to make a shirt for the skirt, I knew that it had to compliment it and be simple since the skirt was so overwhelming.

I have this jar of old vintage buttons that my mom found in a house that was going to be torn down.  I chose out a few red and used purple and white buttons from my everyday stash.

I added the buttons to a simple black t-shirt to bring the polka dots into the mix.

The outfit just didn't seem complete without some accessories.....so I made a scarf and headband.

The scarf is just a really long seamed piece made out of the leftover red fleece.  It is long enough to go around her neck twice helping to keep her toasty in the cold Colorado weather.

For the headband I took one of the scraps of the strips I had sewn together and pleated it, hot-gluing it to the headband.

The end result is perfect, made of material durable enough for running and playing, but cute enough to make a statement.

My daughter loved taking the pictures because she got to go and tromp around in the left over snow!  She made me take a picture of her footprints.

Stripes will be the death of me......

I seriously dislike stripes.....I say that marveling at a group of people who are discussing how excited they are about this week's Project Run and Play challenge that is all about stripes and polka dots.   I have never used a real stripe in a design I have done, stripes scare me to death.  I have adorable striped fabric that sits in my stash and never gets used.

See I love the look of stripes, but am a bit of a perfectionist.  I say this with the realization that I am a perfectionist far beyond my sewing ability.  I just keep hearing Joanna Coles telling the designers on Project Runway that their seems must be perfect.  It haunts me in my nightmares.
(taken from her Twitter Feed)

So of course instead of just picking one of those striped fabrics I have laying around for this week, I decide to go all out.....face my fears.   I decide to make my own stripes. 

I got seriously inspired by this dress below that I found on pinterest.   I loved the way the stripes went different directions.  At this point I would like to cite a source but the picture said uploaded by user so you get what you get.  

I decided to do a wide stripe and wanted to make it out of red and white sweatshirt material.   I went to the goodwill planning to upcycle.   They had NOTHING!  I mean really, the goodwill and not even one lousy sweatshirt!  I looked at the store and sweatshirts were like seven bucks a piece (this is why I buy nothing on season), finally I went to the fabric store to find sweatshirt material.  One look at the price and I laughed and walked away.  

I remembered that I had some fleece leftover from my son's halloween costume in black, and picked up some matching red.  

I made my stripes, pressing the seems and topstitching every piece.  Then I played around putting the stripes diferent directions to fill the dress shape I was trying to make.

Finally, I stitched the dress together and discovered something, the fleece was WAY too thick and this was going to be an epic fail!  Back to the drawing board!

I think I have a plan, I will let you know how it works out.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Project Run and Play Week # 1 The Party Dress Remix

Isn't ironic that my first post on the new blog is Project Run and Play, but here it is!  I love Project Run and Play, it feeds into my desire to create.  This week's challenge was the Party Dress Remix!  If you are unfamiliar the tutorial is here.
I did some serious remixing and here is what I came up with.....

I started out wanting to do a high/low skirt thinking that would be an interesting twist on the design.  I like to upcycle material so I went to goodwill looking for one of those long pleated women's skirts that every person in America owned during the eighties.   I wanted a solid color but was excited when I found this funky patterned skirt.

For the bodice I wanted something velvety so I found this stretchy black velvet shirt that was pretty worn around the sleeves and collar but had great material in the middle.

I used the bodice pattern from the party dress and squared off the neckline a little bit.......but when I went to sew the bodice (with a flannel lining) the stretchy material was less than cooperative.   When I was finished sewing the bodice I hated it and was about to throw it in the trash.  I decided to try it on my daughter to see what the fit was like.   My daughter is seriously my muse because when I went to put it on her, she put it on backwards.  I realized that while it didn't look right as a bodice, it looked great as a sort of vest.   I still wanted the skirt part to be included so I slit the front down the middle and seamed up both the sides.

I attached the skirt to the bodice and made a skirted vest.   I decided to do buttons down the front and found these great gold and velvet buttons that matched the bodice perfectly. 

I loved the sash on the original dress, but it wasn't going to work for this skirted vest.  So instead I created a belt with a design using the different fabrics from the outfit.  I acctually used one of those stretchy workout headbands as the belt and attached the decorative piece to it.  

Finally I paired the skirted vest with a pair of black leggings and a white t-shirt and she is ready for a party.  It is not quite a dress, but certainly party worthy.  I loved using the party dress for inspiration and am very excited by this outfit!