Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pattern Review - VegBee's Fair Weather Jacket pattern

I purchased this pattern from sweetshop on etsy. I'm also familiar with the pattern designer from her blog Just Tutes which is a great place to get some wonderful free tutorials and Craftster ID Vegbee.

I am totally pleased with the pattern. It was probably better made than some of the over-the-fabric store-counter ones and so cute! It's also really nice to know I'm supporting another crafty mother. The pattern came from Canada and took less than a week to arrive in Florida. The pattern itself is a very durable paper (not the thin tissue paper) and is boldly written with large information, clearly labeling each piece of the pattern, the markings, sizing and which way the grain should go. I also had a question about possibly resizing the pattern for my oldest to a six. I sent her an email and she was quick to reply with suggestions on how to do it (plus she has a pattern resizing tutorial on her blog), you won't find that kind of service with some larger pattern makers.

I purchased materials specific for this project. I got flannel for the lining at $2.99 a yard and Corduroy for the shell which was about $4 a yard, both on sale. I needed 2 yards of each to make the largest size which is a 4. My three and a half year old had a wonderful (read: mommy went crazy trying to get her to decide) time picking out the lining and we finally settled on a tiny ice cream print with a pink background. I'm making three, one for each of my girls and purchased the corduroy all the same color which is a dusty rose, though the lining will be different for each girl. My 5 year old is getting a white background flannel with lots of bright tiny flowers and the baby (17 months) is getting a blue background flannel with trees, acorns and squirrels on it.

I initially was opting for buttons that matched the shell fabric but after seeing some other examples of finished products on Craftster.com decided to do covered buttons from the interior fabric. With the corduroy and the flannel, I think a matching hat would be in order and that would be completely enough for a Florida winter. I'll update with more photos as I make the other jackets.

There was a small learning curve as my baby decided to throw the directions on the floor after I took the book apart to get the pattern out and I couldn't tell what steps went in which order. But even with that the pattern was labor intensive but not at all difficult and after a quick email letting her know, she's considering revising with page numbers. The only real problem I had was with the button holes. My machine was having a hard time with the thick corduroy on the edges which is folded over a few times and the 2 layers of flannel so the button hole foot had a hard time feeding the material through. Next time I'll either do vertical button holes or make them a bit further into the jacket to accommodate the bulk.

If you decide to purchase this pattern, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Happy sewing!

Pattern Review - Children's Undies from YCMT

I have a couple of skinny kids so I found this pattern and thought I'd give it a whirl to see if I can make anything better than the ol' store bought panties. I like the fact these are made with knits instead of just light cotton which makes them seem more sturdy and there is no elastic which makes them look like they'd be more comfy. I say seem and look because I can't wear them though I have thought about resizing the pattern so I can.

The pattern was pretty straight forward. Nothing too difficult and it was described well. I made about 2 pairs in the first hour or so and that's with:
1. never working with knits
2. never making panties before and
3. not having a serger

I hadn't ever worked with knits before. It just seemed too scary. But now that I have I really like them! It has renewed my longing for a serger though.

The pattern says you can use 1/2 yard and get 2 pairs but if you're doing contrasting and the smaller sizes you can get a few more if you lay it out so you maximize the fabrics used. I hate wasting fabric so I was able to get 4 pairs plus a matching cami that I created out of 1/2 yard of a print and used much less than 1/2 yard for the contrast on the panties and the straps for the cami. I still have some left too that I might be able to squeeze another front or two out of as well.

Here are my first two I made. These come out more like boy shorts than bikini panties but my 3.5yo says they're comfy anyway.

I also didn't do the topstitch like it says to because I didn't use a serger and wanted to cut down on the threads and it seems to have worked out fine anyway. One thing that did snag me up is when you're attaching the bands it's sometimes easy to miss the bottom layer or the additional layer around the crotch where the lining is (this is for the girl panties, I haven't made boy ones yet!) so I had to check all my seams and make sure I grabbed all the layers of fabric when I stitched.

This is the next set I made. I created the cami myself and as soon as I can I'll get a tute up on creating toddler cami's. As you can see in the photo there needs some adjustments in the making. I made it too big and had to cut down the middle of both front and back but after I work that out I'll get it up. It's a great addition to the panties and makes for a nice summer jammie set. I used the same concept as the panties when creating the straps which I think ties the set together. This would be a great learning to potty train set or a gift set when your little one masters the potty.

Overall, I was really pleased with the pattern but expect a learning curve when you start. I have also heard that you can repurpose t-shirts and other knits to make these though I haven't tried it. If you buy the pattern (which is $9.95 at www.youcanmakethis.com) you can always keep your eyes out for knits when stores clearance them out. Only needing 1/2 yard for a few pairs is nice too since you can have many different kinds of knits in your stash and not spend a ton.

Now that I've made a few (about 6 pairs) , I'm by no means an expert I still have the occasional slip in fabric, but I can whip out 4 or so in about an hour. Much better than dragging 4 kids to the store and fighting over what kind I'm willing to buy and still shelling out gas money and $4-5 on 3 pairs. Plus there's the added bonus that my kids can tell everyone "mommy made these!".

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Brian Jaques and Redwall Abbey - A Book Review

We love us a good bibliophile. If you have good ones that you can recommend please do so. But for those of you that are currently searching, here's a little tidbit on a series called 'Redwall'.

It all starts with a little book called "Redwall". This is a very unpretentious little book tucked away in the adult section of book stores which may be easily overlooked (as I almost did because it was at floor level) because of it's cute-sie animal artwork on the cover and the fact that it's purple, which may put off some male Sci-Fi readers. I mean honestly, what guy do you know that would be sitting reading, well, anywhere in public, with a purple book with illustrated animals on the cover?

Then again, that guy is missing out on some seriously great literature. And those little animals kick some mighty ass. I was a little shocked at the violence that covers some of the chapters of this book but it is an adult book and does make for a great read. Plus there is the great literary visualizations partaking at every meal so now I just have to go buy the cookbook so I can make them for my little mice.

There are so many books in this series I seriously can't even begin to list them here. There is also a cartoon about the series though I haven't watched it. So far, I'm on "Mattimeo" the third in the series.

Reading about Brian Jaques is intriguing. He looks like a combo between James Lipton and Jean-Luc Piccard and I attribute him acting like them but with a British accent.

No Pattern, No Problem.

So I had this totally cute jungle fabric that I love. I have a half yard because that's all I could afford at the time. I have been lacking the inspiration to know what to do with it and not wanting to cut it up until I figure it out. It's been a few months now but I had an idea after unconsciously laying it on top of an Amy Butler print. So, today after church I set about to make a dress that I had no pattern for!

I have a basic understanding of how to make a dress. I have made many similar dresses before and have made another no-pattern dress awhile back that's similar for my oldest daughter, again just having fabric that I wanted to use and not knowing what to do with it. this is a photo of that dress. On this one i messed up and put the button hole on the underneath fabric and then had to go back and put another button on the other side which actually worked out ok other than it buttoning inside and out because the overlap was a lot .

I didn't size it either which is ok because it fits my 3year old instead of my 16 month old but the baby will grow into it! Or I could actually measure her and hem it up. I still have to get some large red buttons for the mock shoulder straps and am debating putting a trim between the bodice and the skirt and/or pockets on the front but otherwise the dress is finished!

I picked up a great snap setter from Keep Me In Stitches for about $9 which made banging in the snaps a breeze. I also pretty much didn't measure after the initial bodice cutting. The arm holes are a little small and I think that's because I decided half way through sewing the cut bodice together that I was going to make the top connect differently and overlapped the front and back at the shoulders about 1/4 inch after sewing them right sides together. Next time I think I'll add an additional 1/2" to my measurements to make sure I have enough arm hole space.

Well, I hope my fuddling through sewing a dress has helped to quell any fears you have about starting up that project that seems too daunting to consider. Thanks for letting me blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's been awhile.

A Lot has happened in our family lately and I haven't been even thinking of blogging which is fine because that's kinda how it's supposed to work right? Blog when you have something to say.

Well, officially I have nothing to say so this is just a random posting of facts and information which I'm submitting to the wonderful world of internet to be chastised and ridiculed about later on and no one will ever forget. But I digress.

I went pimping my wares at a local group function today. It was interesting with 4 kids and being 26 weeks pregnant but it was do-able and worked out ok. I sold some dresses and a purse and took my earnings and kids over to Chili's for a steak. Yeah, I know red meat. But according to my OB my iron is low and they want me to supplement which I don't want to do so, insert red meat.

I've been trying to keep busy over the past few weeks since hubby has been gone. Trying not to think about his final departure in October as I will probably (rephrase: definitely) start bawling hysterically and freaking out my kids. If you don't have kids, to let you know that's generally not a great idea.

I still have to get around to hiring a doula to come with me to the birth. I can't imagine doing it by myself, and in all honesty, if I wasn't scared I'd just pop him out at home and go back to bed. After Emmy and her dramatic entrance by placenta abrupta at 37 1/2 weeks, I feel putting myself in the hands of a trained medical professional with access to all that great life saving equipment is probably the best way to do it, for me at least.

We've moved, which was interesting. We're back in our little old house which is 1200 square feet and did I mention small? I'm trying not to think about it but I just pulled out my sewing stuff yesterday and was miserably reminded how much space I now lack. Though, in the long run it will be for the best, it's just an adjustment I have to learn to live with. It might help me to sort out actual times for projects instead of blowing up a craft bomb in a room and leaving it until the next perfect mixture of free time and inspiration collide.

My 2 oldest kids have started piano lessons which has been great. The teacher comes here and I have to be disciplined enough to not give into my kids pleas to stop practicing because of the "I already know all the notes" excuse. As much as I'd love to admit my little prodigies are budding Motzart's, the truth is they probably aren't no matter how quickly they pick up beginner piano once a week. It's nice because it gives me some time to lock myself upstairs and spend time with my 2 littlest ones playing and cleaning up.

I need to find more time to divulge my 5 year old in arts. It's been pointed out to me that she's quite artistic and I am feeling a little bit the bad mother for not entering her in more extracurricular activities. So, I'm now on the lookout for classes that she can take without me that aren't erroneously expensive or at silly times of the day (which is to say, they're usually at night). So far, Google has come up with none.

Oh, on a smaller note, it was my birthday on the 19th. Yippee, I'm not 30 yet but close enough.

So, we're just trying to get into a routine, make time for special things and generally be happy as often as we can.