Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pattern review: OOP Butterick 6076 dress

This is an older OOP pattern from 1999. I am cleaning out my closets so I'm rediscovering a number of older self-made clothing. This is a Cynthia Rowley pattern with a strapless dress in 2 lengths and a beautiful knee length coat. I like the dress pattern so much that I made it twice!

The dress is strapless with boning on the sides. I like the simplicity of the dress as well as how easy and quick it was to sew together. Usually I don't do strapless because I have very broad shoulders/back and upper chest for my height and size and a strapless dress would highlight this. But this dress pattern somehow didn't emphasize my weird shape as much as I thought.

 I made the first dress in a hot pink cotton dupioni look fabric that I bought on sale at John Lewis Watford years ago. I used size 12 which was actually too tight for me. I did my usual short waist adjustment and shortened the hem slightly.
A couple of years later I had to go to a wedding so I made another one in a green poly taffeta. The taffeta has less give than the previous fabric so I added about 2cm to each side seam around the bust area so that I could zip it up. I got so many compliments at that wedding that no one believed I made it myself! (I guess I should have ironed it before taking this picture).
This is a very easy and quick dress to make and I highly recommend this pattern if you already have this in your stash. I'm glad I rediscovered this dress because I think I'll make another one in a floral cotton for this summer, just in case there is some sort of celebration coming up! LOL!

2nd batch: Very practical use of fabric scraps and an old baby change pad

I have made another batch of sanitary pads using an old organic cotton change pad and cotton flannel fabric scraps. This batch works really well! I made them really quickly again so the sewing is not perfect. Nonetheless they performed their function really well.

I'm really happy to have refashioned this very soft but hard to upcycle change pad. I don't think another mom would want to use a used change pad for her baby because there might have been a big poop mess on it at one point (which didn't happen to this pad). And I just don't like the thought of adding more disposable sanitary pads to the landfill every month. So this solution works for me. These cloth pads are so soft and doesn't make that plastic-y sound if I move the wrong way!

I change the shape of the wings for this batch. I find these batwings work better and the pads don't move as much as the last batch. I was able to make 10 pads from this one change pad. And here are the not-so-pretty refashioned project pictures:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pattern review: Mccall 5671 dresses

Now back to clothing for the beach vacation this summer. Knit dresses definitely travel well and are easy to wear and care for. I used the Mccall 5671 pattern in my pattern stash and these yellow print and red floral cheapy bin polyester knit from my stash as well. I used a size 12 because for knits, size 12 usually fits me better (size 14 for woven).

The construction was super simple. The dresses came together really quickly. I made my usual short waist adjustment and shortened the hem. That was it! The bust actually fits without any tweaking which surprised me. That's why I love sewing with knits. If it was a pattern for woven material I would have to do an FBA. With knits - no worries! I didn't cut on the bias for the lower dress portion because with a drapey knit, I felt there was  no need. Also, I wanted the yellow print to be vertical on the yellow dress.

I highly recommend this pattern for the dress part. I have not tried the other pieces so I can't speak for them. I do think I will make more knit dresses with this pattern again!

NOTE: the red poly knit was clinging to my legs a bit because of the static in the winter. I should have no problems with static in the summer.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pictures: Very practical use of Fabric Scraps

** Warning: NOT pretty sewing project pictures!!**

Last month I talked about a very practical use of the fabric scraps I had been saving (see this post). And now here are the pictures! They were leftover fabric from the pajamas I made for my son - too small for any garments except may be bits of a quilt. I used 2 to 3 layers of 100% cotton batting (also small scraps) between 2 scraps of 100% cotton flannel and then I just serged the entire sandwich together. Then I added snaps at the end of the wings. You can see that I made those pads really quickly and crudely. I figured that no one would see them (except on this blog - Oh No! LOL!) so they don't have to be pretty. They had been tested already and were very comfortable. Next I want to make some waterproof ones by refashioning my kids' old organic cotton change pad. That pad is really soft and thick so probably best for night time use.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Refashion: Men's Jeans to Party loot bags

We are having a small party at home for my son's birthday this year. I have invited some of his friends and I have prepared little gifts for their loot bags. I thought, as part of my Stash Busting effort, why not make the loot bags myself with my existing stash? After 2.5 hours and some broken sewing machine needles (sewing too fast with thick denim on thick denim), I managed to transform 2 pairs of men's jeans that were given to me, into 6 little loot bags for the party. I still have lots of the jeans material left for other projects. I didn't buy any materials to make the loot bags -  all the fabric, ribbons, threads, bag template, etc are from my stash. I'm so happy to be reducing my stash this way!

From these men's jeans:
Using this plastic canvas as a bag template:

To these loot bags:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2nd Hand Clothes and Shoes....and a long rant!

I am a big fan of Zoe of the blog 'So, Zo.....what do you know?'. She is a very talented sewist/refashionista and has lots of measured thoughts that I can completely relate to. She recently posted about her purchases of 2nd hand shoes (see here), which made me thing of how I consume as well.

I love sewing, thrifting, and refashioning for myself, my family and my house. I haven't shopped for brand new clothes and shoes for a long time (just a couple of slip ups) and this year, I have pledged not to buy 2nd hand clothes/shoes unless I/my family actually need them. It hasn't been difficult at all; it's not like there was a period when I was craving to shop at the malls. I just adapted to it naturally.

My hubby and my kids don't know or care that they wear home-made/home-refashioned/2nd hand clothes. My kids love the 2nd hand books and toys I got them. They don't bug us to buy new things for them when we go to the malls because we rarely buy anything in front of them (except groceries). I use homemade olive oil/coconut oil/beeswax cream for our family's skin care (see here for recipe). And I started washing my hair only with water (no shampoo/conditioner/gel/spray/etc) after reading about it on Meggipeg's blog (her hair is gorgeous!).

I don't think of myself as an early adapter of any trends. I rarely talk about my sewing/refashioning/thrifting/homemade creams because my family, friends and acquaintances don't react kindly to it. They often think of me as some cheapo-crazy-treehugger-radical. Or they think I was disapproving their consumption habits when I talk enthusiastically about something I made. I made the mistake of talking about the 'magic' of using a water/apple cider/olive oil mixture to detangle my toddler's tangly hair and just had the other mom roll her eyes at me (she was endorsing this tiny bottle of $40 all natural ingredients detangler for her kids).  I just wish that I could find another suburban mom like me in my town (somewhere within 10 km!! LOL!) who shares my passion of sewing/crafting/thrifting/making your own skin care and hair care products, and the curiosity for alternative ways to make a less-toxic life for ourselves and our kids. Perhaps I need to start a local mom group myself?

I think we living in the west think buying something will solve any of our issue/need/want. I'm trying to break away from that. When I go walking in the malls for exercise with my toddler (it's snowy and windy outside 6 months of the year), I actually love going into the higher end stores and look at the underworkings of the jackets, dresses and pants in case I want to copy them (yea the sales assistants were rolling their eyes at me - LOL)! And I like looking at the windows at H&M and Forever 21 to see how they put their outfits together.  I take pictures so that I can put together something similar from my closet. I don't feel bad going to shopping centres at all.

Sorry about the rant! Sometimes it feels a bit lonely just doing all these 'wacky' projects by myself and no one to share this with face to face. When I go to the local thrift store or the fabric store, I'm surrounded by seniors and the rare student. So if you also like sewing/crafting/thrifting/making your own creams, give me a holler!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Encore Pattern Review: New Look 6779 dress with sleeves

This is an encore pattern review for New Look 6779. Last time I made this sleeveless denim dress. This time I have made the same dress (size 12 again) with pockets and short sleeves with a hefty weight red linen. I have always wanted a red linen dress like Pippa Middleton (see below) and I have some stash red linen lying around, so I just made it quickly.
 (source: Instyle)

I think my choice of fabric is really not suitable for this dress. It's a pullover dress so it really needs some lightweight, drapey flowy material to look good. The heavy slightly stiff linen just didn't do this pattern justice. In the end, I ended up having to take out 4cm from the centre back because the dress was looking like a big stiff tent on me. On top of that the neckline would only stay flat if I don't move. As soon as I start walking it's moving all over the place and showing my bra straps. The sleeves and the chest area pull a bit (you can see the drag lines in the picture). Since I took out so much material from the centre back, I guess I should have done an FBA.

I tried to weigh the neckline down with 2 heavy metal buttons on each side of the neckline (like Pippa's dress). It works to a certain extend; but certainly not good enough.

I think I'll still wear this dress out for a test run when it's warmer outside to see if I would look foolish. I do like the look of the dress. Too bad the fabric was too stiff and heavy. I haven't given up on this pattern yet. I will try a flowy fabric next time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pattern Review: New Look 6734 Rashguard

My kids both wear rashguards when they go to the beach - mainly because they hate having sunscreen reapplied every so often. So I thought rashguards could provide some protection from the sun even if the sunscreen was gradually wearing off their skin. And it doesn't hurt that they both look really sporty and cute in the rashguards too!

I'm pretty bad at applying sunscreen on myself so I thought why not make a rashguard for me too? I dug through my pattern stash and found New Look 6734. I also dug out some red and black remnant swimwear fabric (nylon with 20% spandex) that I used for the self-made red swimsuit and the black swimsuit. Voila! Out come this kinda-wearable muslin of a rashguard.

The pattern pieces seemed straightforward enough. I think I only read the instructions once and didn't look at it again (may be I should have looked at it again!). I shortened the sleeves and made my usual short waist adjustment and then added 3cm to the bottom hem. It came together fairly quickly except that the neckline wouldn't stay flat. So I took apart the neckline piece, cut off 5cm from it and resewed it hoping that it would fix the neckline but the collar was still standing up. You can see that in the photo. I pressed and steamed the neckline and it became a bit flatter. But after test-wearing it in the shower the collar stood up again. I'm not sure how I can fix it with the existing neckline pattern piece. I think I probably have to redraft a curved neckline to apply to this top in order for it to stay flat. Oh well! I'm still going to wear it this summer. I have too many other sewing projects in the pipeline so I won't play with the collar of this top for a while. At least I know I can colour coordinate this top with both my black and red swimsuits!
My hubby saw this and said I looked very broad and butch in this top. What does he know about fashion anyways? :-)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Confession of a Knit-a-holic: Another Sweater Refashion

Yes admit it. I'm a Knit-a-holic. I love sewing knit fabrics, I love refashioning knits and I love wearing knits. It's warm and comfortable to wear. It's forgiving to sew even if the fit is not perfect. I can run, kneel down, wrestle with kids, etc, all while wearing knits. It can sewn or refashioned into something casual or more dressy. What's not to love?

Spring is approaching fast so I decided to refashion something for Spring from my refashioning stash. This is an XL men's cotton argyle sweater I thrifted a while back. It has a nice smooth hand and I like the pattern. But it was huge on me.
Using a more fitted sweater of mine as a template, and shortened sleeves, I cut and sewn up a new fitted argyle mini dress for spring. It's a bit short but with leggings and tall leather boots it should look okay. Yay! A new-ish spring sweater dress for 2013!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Encore Pattern Review: Kwik Sew 2690 swim suit

I had such fun making my first ever swimsuit I knew I had to make another one. See this post for the first attempt. This time I used a red 20% lycra swimsuit material. I basically made it the same way, lining the entire suit with the same lycra fabric. The only variations were:
  • No more tie at the front. I just cut a rectangular piece of single layer fabric, sewed it down at the seam allowance, wrap the whole gathered front from the outside to the inside and then sewed it down again at the seam allowance on the inside.
  • I reduced the crotch length by 2cm (right at the crotch) because of my flat seat.
  • I adjusted the positions of the straps slightly.
  • I added more width ( about 1cm) to each of the bust cup area.

I was going to put cups into the bust but I didn't have any on hand. This suit definitely fits a bit better than the last one with my tweaks. I'm so happy to have 2 self-made swimsuits for this summer. Yay!

I like this pattern very much. It suits my body well now that I have tweaked it. I think 2 swimsuits are enough for me for now. If I do make it again, I would like to make one with some colourblocking or contrast piping. It's easy enough to make some unique looking suits with this pattern.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Self-Stitched Beach Holiday wardrobe

I can see the snow and ice outside my window right now but I'm busy planning out my Summer Beach Holiday wardrobe already! Good friends of ours are planning a get-together at a provincial park with beach and sand, bonfires at night, couple massages, barbeques, etc. for a few days this summer. Can't wait! But first thing first - I must plan out my completely self-stitched/self-refashioned Beach Holiday Wardrobe. I'm thinking a Black/White/Red/Denim palette would be good for this wardrobe.

Preliminary thought on my Beach Holiday wardrobe items:
- 2 swimsuits (I already made one - see this post)
- 2 sundresses (I made a few - needs to coordinate with the rest of the wardrobe)
- 2 pairs of shorts (I made a few pairs already - needs to coordinate with the rest of the wardrobe)
- 1 pair of long pants (for chilly nights outdoors)
- 1 long sleeve jacket/cardigan/shirt (for chilly nights outdoors)
- 3 short sleeves top (again need to choose from a number of self-stitched ones)

I think that should be enough. I don't want to have to bring too much stuff. The kids' will have lots of stuff and I need to save room in the car for them.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Dresses for this Winter

I have 2 kids under the age of 4. In previous years, even when I didn't have kids, I rarely wore dresses or skirts in the freezing Canadian winters. It just wasn't practical walking in the snow, ice and sleet, I thought to myself. Well, I changed my mind this winter! It has been colder and more snowy this winter in our area than the last 5 years. But I had been wearing my me-Refashioned sweater dresses all winter long. I wear them with tights and my trusty bulky snow boots (yes the dresses would have looked better with tall slim leather boots but I ain't ruining my nice boots in the snow/salt/ice). The 100% wool dresses are surprisingly warm and comfy for the harsh winters. I only have to wear some long sleeves silk tunics/cotton t-shirts under the dresses. The stretchy sweater dresses are perfect for running after 2 active young kids, 'wrestling' with them when they have tantrums, etc. Who knew they would be so perfect for winters?

1. Navy 100% wool sweater dress: Thrifted for $7.99. I thought what a bargain. I like the style and it has 2 useful pockets in the front. It was a little big when I bought it. The only things I did were to repair a small moth hole at the back and shrunk it a bit in the washing machine. It's now a perfect fit!

2. Three Tone sweater dress: 3 men's all wool sweaters thrifted for a few dollars each. See this post for the refashion process of this dress. I made this when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I have since altered the fit. It's a more casual fit than the Navy one above but very warm and functional nonetheless.

3. All black sweater dress: Originally a wool/acrylic mix turtleneck dress down to the floor. See this post for the refashion process of this dress. Again I made this when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. It was quite fitted then and it's still fitted now. I wear it mostly with me-made long sleeves shirts underneath.

4. Beige Black Colour blocked sweater dress: Originally a shrunken all wool beige sweater and a black wool sweater skirt. See this post for the refashion process of this dress. Again I made this when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. It was quite stretchy so I didn't need to alter the fit after the pregnancy. I wear it mostly with black long sleeves tees underneath.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pattern Review: Simplicity 3532 dress

I'm currently pulling out all the spring/summer clothes out of my closet to see how they fit. I think the pattern is now Out of Print. Loose fitting summer dresses were all the rage a few years ago and I thought the picture on the envelope looked cute.There were only 4 pattern pieces and everything looked really simple to put together.

I made view C and used a size 12 which is one size smaller than my usual but I wanted it to be more fitted and less volume. I used some fabric remnants in my stash: a yellow cotton/poly broadcloth for the neckline and an orange crinkle cotton for the dress. I do like the colour combination - very summery indeed! Sadly I don't have any of that orange crinkle cotton left. In general the dress part fits fine. However I can't get the neckline to stay flat. I have used a medium interfacing but somehow it just doesn't sit properly.

I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping that it would be a wearable muslin. I actually really like the colours and the fit but the neckline just looks foolish. I guess it will go to the donation pile.....