Saturday, December 28, 2013

Have a Happy New Year! My 2014 Resolutions

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday so far. We did! Relatives visited us from out of town for about a week and everyone had a lovely time it seemed. I usually get stressed out about people staying with us because I would be trying to make sure the food is perfect, the rooms immaculate, with abundant entertainment, etc. This year I decided to just relax and to keep everything simple. No one wants to visit a stressed out hostess!! So I had very simple food/drinks (even the Christmas dinner was simple), did a minimum amount of cleaning, let the kids themselves be the entertainment, and not planned particular outings. It turned out that there was an ice storm here for a few days so we couldn't have gone out anyway. If I had scheduled some outings during those days I would be all stressed out and disappointed!

My sewing/crafting new year resolutions for the last couple of years had been the same:

1) No buying brand new stuff unless absolutely necessary. Go to the Thrift stores first if I need something.
2) No buying new fabrics/notions/patterns unless absolutely necessary. This past year I had only bought some Thrift store sewing patterns and some brand new interfacings.
3) Be creative with the fabric/notions/pattern/refashion stash I have. I had been making kid's clothes, accessories and home decor stuff with my stash so far.
4) Create gifts with current fabric/notions/patterns/craft materials. I made a purse for my daughter and 2 Thomas applique shirts for my son this X'mas. I had made fashion jewelry for my mother-in-law as X'mas gifts. 

So far my fabric/notions/refashioning stash has been gradually shrinking which strangely makes me very happy. I thought I should add a couple of new sewing/crafting resolutions for 2014:

1) Create my own fabric with notions and dyes and paints. I have seen so many lovely garments made by other bloggers who paint/stamp/dye their own fabrics. I would like to do that too!
2) Craft some toys for my kids with the current stash. I made stuffed animals and quilted mats for my kids when they were babies. I need to figure out what else I can make them now that they are older.
3) Attempt to make something with the scrap wood in the basement. I have always been very interested in woodworking so I need to go to the library and get some basic woodworking books.

That's it! Not too ambitious I hope. I have a whole year to try these new things. Hopefully I will have accomplished them by the end of 2014.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays! Top 10 Favourite projects in 2013

Can you believe it's almost the end of the year already? I'm soooo thankful for everything that happened this year - my 2 beautiful (sometimes a handful) children, a loving/supportive husband, wonderful friends and family, a good roof over our heads, functional cars, adequate nutritious food to eat, a peaceful place to live.......and of course: lots of creative projects for MOI!!

It's difficult to choose just a few favourite projects as they are all my 'babies'. But here are the Top Ten Sewing/Refashioning Projects that I particularly love:

1. Refashioned Turtlenecks to Scoopnecks tops. I did this refashion for 5 different turtlenecks. I wasn't wearing those turtlenecks anyway and they were just sitting in my closet. I'm now wearing them regularly in the Spring, Autumn and Winter. Yay!

2. Very practical use of Fabric Scraps - Sanitary pads. Not the prettiest sewing project but I am so happy with them! I haven't bought any commercial sanitary pads since I made these earlier this year. I'm so happy I'm not filling the landfill with commercial pads anymore. Another Yay!!

3. Self-made Swimsuit #2 (Kwik Sew 2690). This is the 2nd suit I made with this pattern and I tweaked it a bit to suit me better. I wore it a lot (as well as the black suit) during this past summer when I went to the pool or beach with the kids. It held my lumpy bits in more than the commercial suit. I'm so happy I'll never need to buy another commercial swimsuit again!! Yay yay yay!!

4. Toddler Spring/Autumn jacket (Burda 9780). I really like this jacket. It was all made with stash fabric a stash pattern. The good thing is that my toddler loves it too. She even wanted to wear this jacket in the snow (of course it's not warm enough). She wore it a lot since I made it which is really gratifying because you never know how fast the kids will outgrow the clothes I've made. Yay!

5. Refashioned: 1 odd Thrifted ensemble into 2 dresses. I thrifted an odd ensemble at my local thrift store for less than $10. And from that I was able to make 2 party dresses. I wore them out for my wedding anniversary and my birthday dinner. They were comfortable and I felt wonderful in them. Yay again!

 6. Refashioned Tuxedo suede skirt. This was the first time I had sewn with suede. Previously I had only sewed with faux suede which was very different from real suede. I conquered my fear of sewing with suede with this skirt and I'm so happy about it.

7. Refashioned kids' pants. I have used this same method to extend many of my son's and my daughter's pants. I'm hoping they will not outgrow them until next summer.

8. Toddler jumper (Butterick 3267). This was made with stash fabric and a thrifted pattern. My daughter likes it wears it a couple of days a week since I have made it. Great layering for the winter.

9. Refashioned boy to girl vest. I started doing rudimentary embroidery with my old mechanical sewing machine with this project. It turned out okay. My daughter loves this and wears this all the time.

10. A little purse for my little lady. I used scraps from my stash and did the same cat character embroidery on this little purse. It's a X'mas present for her so she hasn't seen it yet. Hopefully it will get a lot of use.

So that was my list of fav projects from 2013. Let's hope for more fabulous sewing/refashioning/crafting projects for 2014 too! Happy Holidays everyone!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Little Purse for my Little Lady

I have to finally come around to the fact that my toddler is no longer a baby and turning into a little girl! I went to my local groceries store where they have a section of clothing/accessories, etc. She saw a adult sequined skirt, ran over to hold on to it and wouldn't let go. Then we walked by some little bags/purses and she grabbed one of them tightly and I had to yank it out of her hands. She seems to be becoming a really girly girl which is going to be a bit of a headache for me since I'm more of a tomboy.

Anyway, I thought that it might be fun to sew her a little purse as a X'mas gift this year. I think she may appreciate a gift like that. So I rummaged through my fabric scraps box, found some remnants from these self-stitched pants, some cream canvas scraps, and a thrifted zipper and made her this little cross-body bag:

She seems to like this cat character at the moment so I just did some quick satin stitch embroidery with my old mechanical sewing machine. The bag may be a bit big for her right now but I am hoping that she would use it for a couple of years. I hope she likes it!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thrift store vs Mall Store: Price sticker shock

I have been buying garments/toys/books from Thrift stores or making them myself for so long that I forgot how expensive things can get in a regular mall store.

My son had outgrown his snowpants this past month and I needed to get him a longer one in a flash. I went to my usual thrift stores but they didn't have any in his size. It had already been snowing so that was probably why they were all out of stock. So I went into my local Target store (a medium to low end chain) to get him a new pair of snowpants. I got a real Price sticker shock! The cheapest snowpants at Target was $25 whereas I had been buying gently used boy's snowpants for less than $5! I could literally buy 5 pairs of these used snowpants for the price of a brand new one!

Fortunately a few days later I was able to find a used pair for my boy for $4.99. I quickly returned the Target snowpants. I was so relieved after that refund! I have lots of friends who never shop at thrift stores and always buy everything new. How are parents afford to dress their kids if they buy everything brand new these days?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Need some ideas - Refashioning the Pregnancy coat

I made almost no pregnancy clothing for my 2 pregnancies - yes I made my whole line of pregnancy wear - but they were just regular sized clothes that accommodated my bulging belly. The only thing I made for the pure purpose of containing the big belly was this checkered wool pregnancy coat.

The coat started out as a cape that went horribly wrong (you can read all about it here). I refashioned the big cape into this coat. Basically it's a big tent with a hood and 2 big pockets. It's made with a good weight wool coating and the lining is a nice purple quilted, batted polyester. The coat was well used and loved during the winter months for my 2 pregnancies, and cocooned me all through my deliveries and hospital stays. There is no way I'm sending this coat away! I need to figure what to do with this coat - whether to refashion it into another coat that fits me now, or harvest the wool and the lining for some other garments.

I already have lots of winter coats so I'm hesitant in making this into another coat for myself. I could refashioned this into a coat for my toddler, or I could reuse the checkered wool to make a thinner, short jacket. The wool is too thick for a dress unfortunately - I think I'll look too bulky in it. What do you think? What would you do with this coat?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Re-Refashion: Sweater Knit skirt to Sweater dress 2.0

Remember this refashioned sweater dress I made last month? After wearing it out I decided to reduce the bulkiness of the Star Trek sleeves. I used some remnant grey cotton knit in my stash as facings and cut back the sleeves to a more manageable size. Here is the before:

And here is the after:

I think the dress looks less Romulan but more Uhura!! :-) What do you think?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Refashion: Toddler Boy Vest to Toddler Girl Vest

Another simple but practical and much needed refashion project! The weather is getting really cold. This past weekend the harsh Canadian winter has set in. I needed to make another warm layer for my fussy toddler girl quickly.

This was a vest that I made for my boy when he was a toddler. It's a nice thick brown fleece vest that is now too small for him. So it gets passed onto my toddler girl. However, I know she will not want to wear this boring plain brown vest so I had to jazz it up a bit to entice her to wear it. So with some remnant pink ribbing in my stash and some poorly embroidered cat character, here is how it turned out:

I'm still experimenting 'embroidery' (if you can call it that) with my old low-tech sewing machine. I need to buy some appropriate tear away stabilizer for these projects. Anyway, I think it turned out okay enough to get my daughter to wear this(fingers crossed)............. :-)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Refashion: Sweater knit skirt to Sweater Dress

I thrifted this sweater knit long skirt with a torn waistband and a high back slit a couple of years ago at my local thrift store. I initially thought I could make a cardigan vest out of it. But since I just LOVE sweater dresses for Fall/Winter, I thought I should try to turn it into a sleeveless sweater dress.
First I sewed up the high back slit closed. Then, using a sweater dress that I had refashioned before as a guide, I put chalk lines down on the skirt where I wanted to cut. I managed to avoid that torn area.
I sewed up the side seams and the shoulder seams. Then I rummaged through my scrap box and found this purple cotton velour scraps that I had used for another refashion project before. I bound the new neckline and the sleeves with this material. And this is how it turned out:
My hubby saw me in the dress and asked if I was going to be in the next Star Trek movie! I guess he thought that it looked too sci-fi/futuristic with those sleeves that stuck out. I am inclined to think he is right!

What do you think? Should I redo the sleeves to make them stick out less?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Refashion: 80's Power Dress to Batwing short dress

I thrifted this 100% pure virgin wool jersey dress from my local thrift store for a few dollars. I liked the forest green colour and I liked wool jersey. I also liked the gold button details on the shoulder. The only problem was that I didn't examine the dress too closely and only discovered later that there were many moth holes on the dress! Still I like wearing wool dresses in the winter with leggings so I decided to do a simple refashion.

First thing first, I took off the huge shoulder pads. Now the dress just looks like a drop should dress.

Next I turn the dress inside out and put it on. I marked the hem length I wanted to cut off and pinned out the excess fabric on the body. I like the idea of a slightly bat wing dress so I didn't reposition the sleeves nor the shoulder seams.

I hemmed the dress and then painstakingly repair all of the moth holes. I hope no one notices my repairs. And here is the result:

I'm pretty happy that I have 1 more Fall/Winter wool dress to wear. Another simple refashion project!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pattern Review: Butterick 3267 Toddler Jumper

This past week, the temperature has dipped below 0 Celsius and snow has started to fall. My willful toddler has just gotten used to wearing her winter jackets, hats, mittens and snow boots. But she still would not wear the wool sweater vests I made her. She has become very very very picky about what she wears. She would actually physically fight with me when I try to help her dress in the morning. She loves red clothing but hates almost everything else. So I decided to quickly make some red warmer layers for her with whatever red winter fabric I have in my stash.

I found a small scrap of red fleece in my stash and it was just enough to make her a little A-line jumper. I dug out this thrifted pattern I got from my local thrift store - Butterick 3267. The pattern comes with a pretty coat, an A-line jumper/dress, sweat pants and a hat too.

I made some adjustments to the A-line jumper. I ignored the jumper neckline facings and used some pink ribbed knit scraps to bind the neck and armholes. I thought the straps on the pattern were a bit narrow so I just ignored the 1.5 cm seam allowance for the neckline and the armholes and bound the edges as they were. I added a self-made applique pear (related to my husband's last name) to the left bottom part of the jumper as decoration. I like the contrasts of the red against the pink binding and the green pear against the red background.

I'm pretty happy with this quick to make dress. The fleece was obviously easy to cut/sew and the pattern was so simple (2 pattern pieces only because I ignored the facings). I just hope that my toddler will keep wearing this all winter long!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jumping on the checkered clothing bandwagon - McCall 5273 pants

I have had this grey/black checkered cotton knit since 2009. I bought it at a liquidation sale at a local fabric store and hadn't really used it. It's slightly stretchy with a firm hand. It's a bit heavy to use for spring and summer. So this Fall I decided to use it for a pair of slim pants.
I have noticed how popular checkered fabrics seem to be this Fall/Winter. Many high end designers and high street labels have produced checkered pants, dresses, tops and jackets this season. I guess I'm jumping on the checkered bandwagon too, while busting my fabric stash from 2009! Yoohoo!!

I used my altered McCall's 5273 close fitting pull-on pants pattern. I knew that they would not be leggings-like. I just wanted them to be slim knit pants that I can wear under tunics. And here is the result:
The pants don't look that great as is but under a tunic they seem okay (excuse the wrinkles on the tunic - I had been wearing it all day):

I'm happy with them. They are slim fitting which means they will fit into winter boots easily and I can also wear them with flats. I guess I'm on the checkered trend now!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A quick look at the New Vogue Sewing Patterns

I haven't bought brand new sewing patterns for almost 2 years now. But I still enjoy looking at the new patterns online when they become available. I would try to see if there were any new styles that I liked and how I would adapt my existing patterns to recreate something similar.

The new Vogue Winter/Holiday patterns just came out and I am a bit disappointed in general. There wasn't anything in particular that attracted me.

This one looks a bit baggy and odd. Even the model doesn't seem comfortable in this herself...

This one seems to be an 80's rehash with some unfortunate fabric.......

This one can be cute.....

I know this is supposed to be artsy but the shape of the jacket may not be the most flattering for most....

This one I can probably copy easily with existing patterns. I heard that checker/plaid fabrics are big this season and I have this big red/black plaid wool in my stash.....

This one could be cute but the fabric is a bit unfortunate again.....

I noticed that the Vogue sewing patterns are not as interesting these days as they were say 10 years ago when I first started sewing. Too bad. I really missed the quality designer patterns.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I met another sewist in my neighbourhood!! Hurah!

I had been complaining about not being able to meet anyone who sews in my neighbourhood for a while. And now I have met one! I met her at my local thrift store where I was buying some vintage patterns for my toddler. She was lining up behind me at the cash register. She saw my patterns and asked if I wanted her used ones. She is a vibrant grandma who sews for her kids and her granddaughter. Of course I said yes please! We met up later and she gave me a bunch of toddler patterns and we chatted. She seems just as happy to meet up with someone who sews too! I hope I can keep this sewing friendship going and she doesn't find me too annoying! LOL!

Now if I can find more sewing buddies in my generation in my neighbourhood.....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Refashion: Toddler Boy's pants to Toddler Girl's pants

I made these forest green sweat pants for my son a few years ago. He grew out of it and the pants were passed onto my daughter. Now they have become too short for my daughter. So I rummaged through my fabric scraps box and created a pair of longer, more girlish looking sweat pants for her.

First, I used my trusty seam ripper to ripped out the stitches at the bottom of the pant leg. I found some hot pink ribbed knit scraps in my stash.

I cut 2 rectangular pieces of ribbed knit and sewed them together into 2 tubes. Then I folded the tubes into halves and attached it to the bottom of the pant legs:

I sewed them on and then realized that the former stitch line of the hem was still very visible. I would have liked to attach some cute pink ribbon or rickrack to cover that stitch line. However, I didn't have any in my stash. So I just used a hot pink thread and sewed a tight satin stitch to cover that line as decoration.

I noticed that the ribbed knit tubes were a bit long on the pants so I just folded them up. Voila! Another pair of pants for my toddler daughter for this Fall/Winter!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pattern Review: Butterick 4930 (altered) jacket

I'm still using existing fabric stash and pattern stash for new sewing projects. This pattern is from 2006 and actually for a coat. I don't remember why I bought it because it's really shapeless but for a coat I guess it's okay. I made the short version in size M with modifications.

I have had this hot pink thick cotton sweatershirt fabric in my stash for a long time. I thought I could make a jacket for layering in the Fall/Winter. I am not really a pink clothing person but I thought the bright colour could brighten up my black and grey Fall/Winter wardrobe.

The pattern is super simple with no darts anywhere. It was supposed to have this puffy peter pan collar which I thought would be to fussy and childish looking on my short frame so I omitted it. I knew the pattern would be boxy and shapeless so I added back darts to give it some shape.   I intended the jacket for layering thus I didn't want anything too fitted (it's difficult to see the back darts in the picture). I added black shiny buttons from my stash to jazz it up a little. I think it looks okay but hubby thinks it makes me look stumpy. Perhaps the big wide sleeves are to blame? What do you think?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Refashion: a quick and simple velvet jacket transformation

I love the look of velvet jackets for Fall/Winter. They just look so elegant and versatile (can be dressed up and down). I bought this boxy brown cotton velvet jacket in my local thrift store last year. Its oh-so-soft fabric and the low price of $7.99 drew me to it. Little did I know that it would cost me almost twice that price to dry clean it! Oh man!

The jacket is a bit boxy for my body and the sleeves are a bit too long. So I just shortened the cuffs by 3cm, changed the boring brown plastic buttons to brass-look military style buttons, moved the buttons further in by 1.5cm and voila, a much better fit for me. Although the refashion/alteration was minimal, I think it looks better on me now:

Yay! Another quick and easy refashion and a new wearable item in my wardrobe for this Fall/Winter!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Refashion: Too small suede first time sewing suede!

Just when I said I didn't wear skirts a lot these days in my last post - here is another skirt refashion! I thrifted this too small suede skirt last year. I am not usually a leather/suede clothing person. But I liked the colour of this skirt and at this low price, I thought I could learn to sew with suede. If it didn't turn out wearable I could always disassemble it and make a purse!

The skirt was so tight that I couldn't even put it on. I laid it down on the floor and measured it with the Vogue 8126 skirt I just made. I needed to add about 8 cm in width from waist to hem in order for me to put it on.

1. First I disassembled the whole skirt with my trusty seam ripper: waistband, lining, side seams.

2. Then I used some remnant black ponte knit and cut two 6 cm wide strips. I attached them to the side seams with leather needles. (NOTE: I had to buy Leather needles. I tried using a Jean needle and it didn't work at all. The Leather needle had no problems whatsoever. I was able to sew at at regular pace with the leather needle.)
 3. I then trimmed everything to length. I don't usually look good with waistbands so I just omitted it and cut and sewed a new lining (Bemberg) directly to the top of the skirt. I then flipped the lining over and topstitched the waist. I tried it on and it fit perfectly with the black knit panels slightly stretched (Too perfectly actually. The suede has no give which means I can't eat a a meal in this - hahahaha!).
 4. And to add some interest to the skirt, I added this black ponte knit detail at the back:

It's actually not too practical to have this embellishment at the back. I just wore the skirt and sat on it and the bow became all wonky! I guess it's the kind of skirt that you can't sit down in - just kidding! I'll just take the bow out.

I'm pretty happy with this simple refashion. I'm not scared of sewing with suede anymore. Yay!!