Sunday, June 5, 2011

Once Upon a Thread

I stumbled across this project the other day by blogger Katy at no big dill, and I'm completely in love with it.  The inaugural post is here, explaining the concept, which is to sew things that are inspired by your favorite books, which for the most part, happen to be children's picture books.  Since I love children's literature, perhaps more than I love sewing, I think this concept is amazing!  I immediately thought of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is rendered here (LOVE IT!).  This is probably my favorite story about the process of creating (or conceiving) a project based on a book, and my first introduction to what sounds like a great book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds.  Other projects that I liked were A Bad Case of the Stripes, A Tree is Nice, The Giving Tree, and Goodnight Moon (for this one I like the decorated "room" more than the pajamas, though they are also nice!)  This one made me feel nostalgic, featuring as it did Gyo Fujikawa!  And this book looks like it might make me cry.  Like The Giving Tree, it appears to be one of those books meant to make adults appreciate life in its simplicity rather than, strictly speaking, to tell children a story.  Most of the above were guest posts, and reading through, I can't wait to see it repeated next year.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm a Winner!

I just had to post a link to 3 Beans Studio, since I won the May Giveaway that she sponsored on her blog!  The May Giveaway, organized and promoted by Sew Mama Sew, was a great way to find a TON of new sewing and craft blogs! From 3 Beans Studio:

  1. I take my self and my blog rather lightly. I like to joke and I do use sarcasm (I’m waiting for Google to develop the sarcasm font, that way there is no confusion.) When in doubt, just laugh because what ever your reading is probably my lame attempt at a joke. If you laugh at it, you’ll find it’s actually IS sorta funny ; )
  2. I’m working VERY hard at giving up expletives. So occasionally, you might find some slightly “questionable” words…but I really am trying to keep the full on cursing and belittling of humans for when I’m behind the wheel and in the safety of my own vehicle! ; )
  3. My daughter has an unhealthy obsession with Baby Jaguar. I swear the amount of jaguar print fabric that shows up in my sewing is entirely to appease my little Diva’s heart.
  4.  My sewing space is called my “Sweat Shop.” I KNOW. It’s very tempting to get political on me–seeing as how I’m Asian and working in a ‘sweat shop’ with LOTS of little kids around to help me, but really it’s all for YOU, my followers, that I subject myself to it.
(I admit that I chuckled at #4--how postcolonial!)

And here's the awesome pattern that I won, along with 2 fat quarters of Habitat:

Thanks so much, Susanne!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Musing on Women's Swimsuits...

Since the summer issue of Ottobre Design Woman came out a few months ago, I have been pondering the swimsuit pattern, which I was excitedly anticipating.
I love the idea of a tankini, but I am not crazy about the halter style.  Frankly, halters look terrible on me, and I have my doubts as to whether anyone who wears a D-cup should wear a halter.  Second, while I have not examined the bottom closely, I suspect that it is too low-rise for my liking--or my figure.  When this suit first appeared, I left a comment on the Ottobre Blog wishing for a different bust option on the tankini.  I have elsewhere seen the rutched sides described as "very forgiving" (and I wish I could figure out how the blogger added a bra in the swimsuit top!).

So I have been thinking about my own idea of a hybrid suit.  I wondered at first if the panty and cami patterns from the Winter 2009 Ottobre Woman might work as a swimsuit if made from the appropriate fabric.

Why have others not thought of this?  I wondered.  The panty options are very similar (but a bit higher), and the cami is attractive and modest.  The only thing I can think of is that the cami is very loose fitting on the bottom, which might cause it to lift in the water (rather like a maternity tankini does...).  I wonder, then, if it would be possible to combine the top of the cami pattern with the rutched sides of the tankini top, and then make whichever bottom(s) suit(s) my fancy?  Hmmmm...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ottobre "Seahorse" Swimsuits: Completion and Success!

I put the finishing touches on the swimsuits today as the girls napped.  I started them a few days ago, and have only been working intermittently.  I think I could have completed the project in a single day had I worked straight through, but I had supplies to get, and then other things to do, so I started on Wednesday, I think, and finished today (Saturday).  Sewing on the spandex was surprisingly easy, and I have had a lot of practice on the techniques I used to dread:  binding and elastic (in this case, clear elastic tape, with which I have a real love-hate relationship).

I actually did pay quite a bit of attention to the leg bands.  Rather than following the directions for the length of clear elastic tape, as I have found that Ottobre's estimates very rarely work for the tape that I can find at JoAnn's, after pre-stretching the tape (a very, very important step), I wrapped the tape around the girls' legs and cut enough to wrap around with about 1/2" overlap, or a little less.  The leg holes are not gathered much, but it is enough for a good fit:

One thing that disappoints me a bit with the design is the the way the straps are attached.  Because I tacked them to the binding by going over the topstitching,

 it has a bad tendency to flip down.

I have seen other examples of this swimsuit, and some have chosen to attach the strap with an extra row of stitching.  I think a print would be more forgiving for that, however, and I think I will leave it as it is.  Seeing that this is a problem for others, though, I know at least that it is not something that I have done wrong!

It is fun seeing how differently it fits each of my girls while still flattering both.  Doodle, who is 5 years and wears a 6-6x, is wearing European sz. 116, which fits her in the width while being a bit too long (even though she has a longish torso!).  On the Ottobre size charts, she measures a sz. 110 in width and a 116 in length, so this one seems to run a little long (it even seems to wrinkle a bit on the model in the magazine):

Bellie, who is 
3 years and
wears a 
3T-4T, has
a sz. 98, and 
fills it out 

 Swimsuit sewing was much less painful than I imagined.  I am considering trying my hand at one for me, although I don't think the style that Ottobre published for women in their last women's issue is one that will be very flattering on me.  Ah well, we'll see!--but not just yet.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Adventures in Summer Sewing: Swimsuit Applique!

With the end of the Spring semester, and still no permanent (or even temporary) job in sight, I have started thinking about summer sewing--because it's more fun, and because I have the leisure to do it!  A while back, I ordered some spandex for swimsuits from Chez Ami Childrenswear.  Chez Ami has some really high quality fabrics, especially knits, which are reasonably priced and which often go on sale!  So I have three different prints (two of which coordinate) and a solid pink.

 After much debate over the three Ottobre Design swimsuit patterns I have, from the Summer 2011 issue, the Summer 2009 issue, and the Summer 2004 issue (which I bought as a backissue a month or two ago), I decided to go with the Summer 2009--more because I had traced the correct sizes before I received the Summer 2011 and 2004 issues than because it was the one I wanted to make most... Here is the pic from the magazine:

I am making them in pink, which also happens to be the color of the swimsuit in the magazine, basically because I felt more comfortable "risking" the solid color rather than the more unique prints, since it is my first attempt at sewing on spandex!  I was not originally going to try the seahorse applique, but after showing the three patterns to my husband, he was so taken with the seahorse that I decided to go for it!  Here are the seahorse appliques:

Ottobre's instructions are brief, but really precise and accurate.  The real trick was the iron-on stabilizer!  I bought some Sulky thread for the occasion (my first real applique--and on spandex!).  I tried out some iridescent purple thread on the fin of the smaller swimsuit (for my 3T girl--Euro sz. 98) and used a super shiny pink thread for everything else.  The eye is an iron-on decorative stud.  I'm pretty proud of them!  I hope the rest of the suit looks as good when finished!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tutorials Worth Noting: ikat Bag on Smoooooth Waistbands

Everything I know about waistbands, I have learned from Ottobre Design Magazine.  For myself, I have made a variety of waistbands.  For my girls, only elastic waistbands that are sewn-through in one way or another.  This is a tutorial from ikat Bag--a blog by a wonderfully creative mother--that shows how to make smooth elastic waistbands, which are really the more stylish kind these days!  Also, my Doodle (5yo daughter) is long-waisted. Instead of elastic taking up some of the rise of the pants, it will be better to add some length with the elastic encased in a separate waistband!