Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Break From Sewing

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been sewing a lot over the past few months. Things for myself, things for others, things to sell...and I still have a long list of projects that need completing. But this weekend, I took a break. It was kind of a forced break, because my sister needed the sewing machine, but it was much-needed and, I might add, quite enjoyable.

So what do I do when I am not sewing? Well, first of all, I cook. I have been so busy sewing that I forgot how fun cooking is! I had such a great time making supper last night: chilled corn soup with toasted garlic, stuffed onions, and a squash boat dip.

Today I got into baking mode. The result was lots of German chocolate cake, in cake and cupcake form.

All this sewing has also distracted me from my knitting. I started knitting a top earlier this summer, but hadn't touched it for months. Now I am at it again and hope to finish it in the next few days.

So far, my Labor Day break has been great! Sunday will be spent in worship and fellowship, and Labor Day itself will include some fun family time. I hope you are enjoying your extended weekend!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Mending Basket

It's probably a good thing that I don't have a mending basket, because I would just throw things in it and forget about them. Of course, I don't do much better when I leave things in plain sight. I have left clothing that needed altering or mending in my drawer or closet for months or, I am embarrassed to admit, even years! It's just one of those little jobs that I never get around to doing.

Mending is something you have to make time for, and tonight, I finally made time. I took a skirt that was too big, a shirt that was too long, and various other items that needed fixing up and sat down at the sewing machine.

It is surprising how enjoyable mending/altering can be when you finally start doing it. You realize how much you liked those things that you pretended you didn't need because you didn't want to fix them. You discover that the old shirt you need to put darts in would look great with that new skirt you just bought. And that dress that needs a new hem is the perfect thing to wear to the party next Saturday. In fact, a pile of mending, when attended to, could give you a whole new wardrobe!

Do you have a full mending basket (literally or figuratively)? Put on some music, watch a movie, or even invite a friend over to chat with, and start sewing!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Step by Step: Making pants into a skirt

For this project, you need two pairs of the same kind of pants. I know people don't normally have two matching pairs of pants lying around...but this project would work very well with jeans, and matching jeans are not so hard to find. My mom had owned one pair of these capris for years, and then she found another pair just like them at a thrift store and asked me to make a skirt out of them. This pants-to-skirt design was actually her idea. Thanks Mom!

   Step 1: I cut the legs off of the shorter pair of capris                                   Step 2: I cut open the inner seam of the 
                    from just below the pockets.                                                                     longer pair of capris.

Step 3: I sewed in the excess fabric from the crotch on the longer pair. It took a few tries to figure out how much to take in. The back, shown here, had more extra fabric than the front.

Step 4: Using the legs from the one pair of                                                     Step 5: I sewed the triangles into the
capris, I cut out triangles like the one below.                                                  gap between the legs of the other pair.

Step 6: I cut out the excess fabric from step 3 and zig-zag stitched the seams.

Step 7: I hemmed the bottom edge of both triangles.

The finished product!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Before Summer Ends

1 piece of orange fabric + some brown eyelet lace + some orange sheer edging = 1 fun summer top! I love this style, and the fabric (left over from a dress I remodeled) was just so bright!

I cut out a white square of fabric and covered it with brown eyelet lace for the neck. I took the casing off the lace and ironed the lace flat. Then I re-sewed the casing onto the top layer of lace for a finished edge.

I found a strip of orange sheer that worked perfectly for the bottom of the shirt. I made it a little smaller than the bottom of the shirt, then stretched it as I sewed it on. This gave the shirt fabric a little bit of gather, and created the loose-hanging shape I wanted.

The leftover casing from the lace was perfect for finishing the armholes.

I had to do a little bit of tweaking to get the armholes the right size and make the lace lay flat over the shoulders, but now it is finished. I hope there is enough of summer left that I can wear it a few times before the cold sets in!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Unexpected Treasures

Digging around in the linen closet can yield unexpected treasures. The other day, when I was searching for some missing place mats, I found an old table cloth - a picnic table cover, to be precise - that I just knew had potential.

After a little thought, I decided a long, A-line dress was just the thing! The light green color was so pretty, and the fabric had a little stretch to it, so I knew it would be comfortable. As a pattern, I used a dress I had in my closet that was pretty close to the style I wanted.

The skirt part turned out a little shorter than I wanted, so I added a band of fabric around the bottom. I just happened to have the perfect color of lace to sew into the seam, making the transition less abrupt.

The fabric is a little thick, but I was happy to find that the dress is not too hot, and it is very stain-resistant. For someone who always seems to spill things when she least wants to, this is a good thing!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sewing and Music

The majority of the time that I am in the basement sewing, I am alone. Of course, there are times when my sisters come down and we talk and laugh and share our one, very old sewing machine. And there are times when my brothers come down and talk or beg me to play a game with them. But much of the time, it is just me and the machine.

My mom used to say, "Silence is good!", and now that I am older, I see her point, but you can have too much of a good thing... When I don't feel like listening to silence, I put on some music. I've listened to everything from country to classical, from opera to pop. Sometimes I am in the mood for Japanese instrumental music, or my favorite British singing group. Sometimes I turn on my Youtube violin playlist, or put in a Josh Groban CD. One day, I heard Chanticleer sing something on the radio, and I loved it so much I ended up listening to them for hours that afternoon.

I've tried watching movies while I sew, but that only works if you don't really care to see what's going on in the movie, or if you don't plan on getting much sewing done. Listening to music gives me something to do without interfering with my work. It also makes things not so boring when I am down in the basement alone.

Music has always been a big part of my life. If I am not listening to it - or making it myself - it is usually playing in my head. Life would be so boring without music, and I am so thankful to God for giving us such a wonderful gift!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

By Feel and Guesswork

I bought this plain, tan shirt a few years ago to go with a skirt that I had made, but then I ended up making the skirt into a shirt because I didn't really like how it had turned out. So this shirt got put in a drawer and forgotten about for a while, until I saw it the other day and got inspired.

The first thing I wanted to do with the shirt was create the cool edge you see below. I just really liked the thought of the hem curving up in the front and back and coming to a point on the sides. I also took out the bit of elastic that I had put around the neck the first time I had fiddled with this shirt.

I added some lace to the hem to give it a more delicate look. I was going by feel here, because I wasn't sure how many layers of lace I would need. I put on one layer and thought it needed some support, but I didn't want the ruffle to be too heavy. Two layers of lace was just right.

I tried the shirt on at this point. I was very happy with the edging, but my inspiration was failing me. I held lace up around the neck and liked how it looked, so on it went!

I could have ended here, but I wanted to do something cool with the front. More lace? Yes, please! After a little bit of pinning and trying on, I came up with this arrangement. The slightly random look was fun, and I liked the fact that it made the shirt more than just a plain tan T-shirt with edging.

I sewed down the loose ends of lace and voila! I have a sort of vintage-looking shirt with plenty of character.

As you can see from this post, sometimes I go into a project not really having a clear idea of what the end result will be. It makes it more fun that way - pinning and moving things around and looking at all of the possibilities. Sometimes, I guess, I like guesswork.

Friday, August 2, 2013

From Dress-up to Dressed-up

A few years ago, I took a plain, pink dress that my sisters and I used for dress-up when we were little and turned it into a formal. Let me tell you - it was a long, hard process, but it was fun, and I love the end result!

Unfortunately, I don't have step-by-step pictures of how I went from the dress on the left to the one on the right, but I can try to explain how I did it.

I cut a some fabric out of the skirt so it would not be so wide and gathered at the waist. I wanted it to be almost A-line.

I used a wide ruffle that had been around the neck (which I took off before the above left picture was taken), fabric from the sleeves, and the extra fabric from the skirt to re-make the whole top. I then covered it with a pink, sparkly sheer that I found at Joann's. 

I attached my new top to the skirt and put a zipper in the back, but it ended up being too tight! I knew I needed to add some fabric somewhere, but I wanted to make it look intentional. After some brainstorming, I came up with the idea you see below. The extra panel in the back is made to look like another layer underneath the top, and a shiny cord pulls the top layer together over it. The zipper is in the middle of the panel.

I thought the skirt needed some more decoration, so I drew a swirly shape on some netting and sewed tiny beads on it to make the design that is on the bottom of the skirt. This was probably the longest and most tedious part in the re-make of this dress.

For a final touch, I added a swag of sheer that drapes around the skirt and is gathered on one side to fall in a long, graceful sash. At the top of the sash, I added two flowers that had come from the neckline of the original dress.


The re-make of this dress difficult, with lots of mistakes and mishaps along the way, but for me, the end result was worth it! 

The point of this post? To show you that even the most unimpressive-looking dresses are not necessarily irredeemable. Sometimes it takes some extra fabric and a lot of creativity, but most of the time there is something you can do to save a dress from the trash bin.