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Friday, June 15, 2012

Shorts on the Line Summer Sew-Along

Hi, everyone!  I've been out of town for an entire week visiting some family and friends, and now that I am back, I wanted to let you know about a fun Summer Sew Along called Shorts on the Line!  Some great ladies over at Imagine Gnats, Designs by Sessa, and Small + Friendly have put together this exciting event that will begin in early July.  To learn about all the details, including the guest bloggers and of course, prizes, please go here.

shorts on the line button

And guess what?!  I'll be one of the guest bloggers!  Yay!  I've never been a guest blogger for an event like this one, but I'm super excited that my good friend, Rachael, from Imagine Gnats asked me to contribute.  

Now that I am back home, I've got to find the time to make some shorts!  Are you with me?!  Hope so, and I hope I'll see you over at the Shorts on the Line Flickr group next month.  

I've got a couple of cute ideas bouncing around in my head that I hope I can successfully convert into a pattern and then some adorable shorts. We'll see what happens come July 10th when I am scheduled to blog about the shorts I make.  Check out Shorts on the Line to see the full line-up of bloggers for the event.  

See you soon!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Men's Shirt to Pillowcase Dress = Worthy Cause

At the start of the year, I read an article on MSNBC.com about an organization called Little Dresses for Africa.  Some of you may have heard about this cause and may have even contributed a dress or two to it before. Anyway, I was so touched by what I read that I decided to make a few dresses to donate.  I figured I would help some beautiful little girls feel special with a new dress and fulfill my need to sew!

I had a small stack of men's dress shirts that I was going to donate to Goodwill, but I saw an opportunity to upcycle these shirts into some cute pillowcase style dresses for this cause.  At the time I started making these dresses, I was new to the upcycle/repurpose idea.  I decided I wanted to transform these men's dress shirts into pillowcase dresses using as much of the original shirt as possible in order to minimize the waste.

The first one I made is still my favorite.  I used a solid blue button down dress shirt and sewed the front button placket together so that the buttons are purely decorative and not functional.  The tie is made from the shirt sleeves, and I made up this neat detail for the ends of the tie by sewing the sleeve cuffs to the ends.  For this dress, the only thing I didn't use was the shirt collar!  I've had a hard time convincing my daughter that we need to donate this to a little girl in Africa that doesn't have a dress instead of keeping it!

The next dress I made I actually used a sleeveless women's top that I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet store.  I paid pennies for the shirt.  I started off the same way as the first dress by sewing down the button placket.  I then removed the collar, cut it in half, and then sewed each half onto the dress as a pocket.  Because there were no sleeves, I had to use a ribbon for the tie at the neck.  Absolutely nothing was wasted!  This has to be my second favorite!

The third and fourth dresses were made using two cotton plaid short-sleeved men's shirts.  I didn't do anything fancy with these.  Just pretty basic pillowcase style dresses.

The fifth dress is where I spent a little more time and used every part of the shirt but the collar.  Again, I used a cotton plaid short-sleeved man's shirt, but this time, I made a cute little ruffle to sew on each side of the button placket.  I even made the tie out of the shirt along with a simple matching headband using a piece of the shirtsleeve and some elastic.

The final dress I've made so far was fashioned from a piece of shirting material that I had previously used for something else.  It is pretty plain except I did add a large pocket to the front.

Now I'm ready to ship these dresses off to Margaret Andrade in Florida.  I contacted Margaret a few months ago after I had made three or four dresses. She had contacted some other sewers/bloggers and asked them to get the word out about the Little Dresses for Africa cause and her personal mission to help collect at least 50 dresses that she would send all at once to the organization.  If you'd like to help Margaret and inquire further about her mission, you can contact her at margaretandrade@hotmail.com.

Margaret has been so friendly and helpful in finding out if Little Dresses for Africa would accept the dresses I've made since they have buttons on them and were made from used clothing.  What we learned is that as long as the buttons aren't functional, then they are fine (that is why I sewed the placket's together).  And as long as the used clothing was refashioned into a dress, it is acceptable.  Yay!

So, if you like to sew or just like to help others in need, I hope you'll consider contributing in some way to this worthy cause.  I believe every little girl should own a dress to spin around in!

Britney's Bubble Top

Does anyone else love the cute patterns designed by Create Kids Couture? Thought so!  Well, if you follow them on Facebook or follow their blog, then you know that they've started offering one of their patterns for half off on Fridays.  A couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to purchase one of their most popular patterns--the Britney Bubble Top--during one of these Friday offers.

Britney's Bubble Top is so simple to make that I didn't wait long to whip one up for Miss Ella.  If you only use one fabric (instead of two coordinating fabrics which is an option) then there are literally on three things to cut out for this shirt (bodice and sleeves).  The pattern instructions have great descriptions and photos for each step, making this one of the easiest things I've sewn in quite some time. I chose to go with a size 4T, and I think the end result is a perfect fit!

I used some lightweight pink polka dot Swiss dot cotton fabric that I had on hand from Hancock Fabrics.  Since this top has shirring across the bodice and on the sleeves, I knew the lightweight fabric would work well.

I was also able to find at a local fabric shop the elastic thread brand (Stretch Rite) that Create Kids Couture had recommended in the pattern.  The Stretch Rite elastic thread apparently has a higher rubber content and is even thicker than the Dritz brand.  It made an amazing difference in how much the fabric draws up and can stretch when you shir with it!  I won't be using the other stuff anymore!

If you are familiar with Create Kids Couture's patterns, then you already know that they use rolled edges and shirring in all their designs.  To make this top, it definitely speeds things along if you have a serger to make the rolled edge hem, although it isn't necessary.  You could make a narrow rolled hem with a special foot for your sewing machine or just iron a narrow hem, but I don't think the effect would be the same for the finished top with the latter.

I just happened to have some pink serger thread that matched the fabric perfectly!  I think that just adds to the cuteness!

In roughly an hour, my daughter had this fun, cool to wear summer top already on and running around in it.  She was even agreeable to let me take a few quick photos of her wearing it.  See the Legos?  Apparently she made herself a trophy.  I told her it was for being the cutest girl on the block!

The Britney Bubble Top is perfect for summer weather and playtime, so I know there will be a few more of these whipped up for Ella's summer wardrobe.  In fact, there may already be a second one!

If you like Create Kids Couture, don't forget to check out their blog on Friday to see what the latest half-off pattern will be--although their patterns are a great deal any day of the week!

Have fun sewing!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Figgy Ayashe Blouse & Skirt Pattern Review

A few weeks ago, I won this fabulous Figgy Ayashe pattern from Jess over at Craftiness is Not Optional.  Thanks again, Jess!

This is the first (and currently only) Figgy pattern that I own, but after making this outfit, I would love to have a few of the others--say the Zephyr, the Scirocco, and of course, the Sunki!  All in all, I found the sizing and fit true to form.  This outfit has lots of details--like a mandarin collar and rolled hem on the blouse sleeves, and belt loops, buttonholes, pockets, and pleats on the skirt--making it somewhat challenging to sew.  It's definitely not a project for a beginner!

It took me days to decide on what fabric to use for the blouse, but I finally chose to use some beautiful voile that I had been holding on to for that perfect project.  Well, I think this was the perfect project for it alright!  I used Anna Marie Horner's Little Folks Voile in Dusk for the blouse, and I am just in love with how soft the fabric is on your skin.  Even better, my daughter loves it, too!

For the skirt, I used a khaki piece of cotton rip-stop fabric that I picked up as a remnant at Joann's.  This type of fabric is typically used for making outdoor gear or hiking pants, but I thought it would be cute for this skirt.  If you aren't familiar with rip-stop fabric, it has these tiny quarter inch squares woven into it that are suppose to prevent the fabric from ripping if you get a hole in it while hiking.  The fabric is all cotton, but because of those little squares woven into it, it is a little heavier in weight than normal quilting cotton.  It was very easy to sew with and made the finished skirt look super cute, in my opinion!

Buttonholes, pleats, and pocket details!

Lots of details:  pockets, pleats, and belt loops
While I didn't have any problems with the actual sewing of the blouse and skirt, I did have some difficulty understanding a few of the steps in the blouse instructions and illustrations, in particular the steps dealing with the facing and collar.  I just made sure to go slowly and really think everything through before actually sewing it all together, because like most of you, I do not like to use my seam ripper if I don't have to!  This was also the first time I have ever sewn with voile fabric, and I found it to be a little slippery and difficult to pin. Anyone else have that problem?

Pockets are fun!
I found the skirt instructions and illustrations to be very clear and easy to understand.  In fact, the skirt came together very quickly, and I just love all the details (pockets, buttonholes, belt loops, and pleats)!  I also like the fact that the skirt back has an elastic waistband that you can let out as your child grows.

And while I've read in other reviews of this pattern that people felt the neck opening was too small to fit their child's head through, I didn't have any issues with fit.  I made both pieces using size 4/5 for my 3-year-old who is tall, and I think the fit of both the blouse and skirt was near perfect!  My daughter had absolutely no complaints about either piece and loved wearing the outfit all day, although she never could make up her mind about which shoes she wanted to wear with it (she changed shoes 3 times)!

I'll definitely be making more blouses and skirts from this Figgy Ayashe pattern.  The entire outfit is preppy and fun and adorable all at the same time!  I'm now a Figgy fan and would recommend you become one, too!