Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fashions #18, Peasant Blouse Redesign.

So, a couple of years ago, I sewed this peasant blouse.  
It hasn't really been love at first sight, and I most definitely don't wear it all that often.  Its one of those tops that I pull out for those stay-at-home and be comfy rather than cute days.   Normally, I love peasant blouses, and I own several of them.  But, this one I just haven't liked.  Its felt a little homemade to me.  Its also extremely baggy and the flutter sleeves have a tendency of flipping up and I just don't like feeling quite so immodest. 
 I think partially why it feels so homesewn is the ric rac.  Thats not usually an embellishment normally seen on purchased clothing.
As you can see, the blouse is just really a little too loose.
 So, this Friday, I decided that I would try to redesign this top a little so that instead of wasting space in my closest, I will wear it!
 First off, I wanted to add to the embellishments at the neckline.
I think just adding a few rows of decorative stitching really did the trick.

 Second, I wanted to fix the sleeves by pulling them in. So, with elastic thread on my bobbin and regular thread for the topstitching, I sewed along the edge of each sleeve, pulling it in for a slight ruffle.   This is the same technique used for shirring.
Which, brings me to my third fix.  I planned on pulling the blouse in for an empire waist by adding a little shirring.   I've never shirred anything before, so I had to play with the settings on my machine for a while before I figured it out.  Finally got the right tension and boom, away I went.  I was so excited to have shirred something.  I was totally thinking that this would be a new technique I would be adding all over my stuff, until I tried on my blouse.
 Um, the idea was to bring everything in so that I looked slimmer.  With the shirring, I look like I am pregnant.  That's not really the look that I'm going for right now.   So, I brought out my seam ripper and proceeded to undo all of my hard earned learning.   What now?  I decided that I would alter the actual shape of the garment.  I grabbed my pins and pinning the sides of the blouse, created a curve to the garment so that the fabric goes in slightly at the waist before flaring at the hips.   I tried on the shirt a few times before I was certain I was happy with the shape.  Then I trimmed away the excess fabric and seamed the sides.
 I love the final result.  I still have a peasant blouse, just one that's slightly more fitted.

I no longer look pregnant! Hooray!    I'm fairly certain that I will now actually wear this peasant blouse!


I love the word LIBERTY and I couldn't resist making it with wooden letters.

Its on this nook on my stairs.  So, I get to enjoy it every time I climb up or go down.

I really like having a firework for the "i".  Just a pop of fun.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I cut these letters back in June.  Yet, I am just now finishing them. I remember reading on someone's blog once that even if she doesn't get a seasonal project done before the holiday or the season is over, she will go ahead and finish the project even though she doesn't really have a chance to enjoy the project right then. The item gets packed away and she she has a nice little surprise waiting when she opens her boxes the next year.  I thought this was a really good idea.  Usually, I stuff the half completed project back into a box on a shelf in my craft room and forget about it for a year.  The holiday arrives again, and I still don't have the project completed and ready to enjoy.  So, I decided that for my 4th of July project ideas, none of which I completed earlier this month, I am going to finish them now, before moving on to my Autumn craft ideas.  That way I have something to look forward to next summer.  And, if next summer is as busy as this summer has been, I won't have time to craft in July again.
 This is how the letters looked this morning when I thought I was done.  I put them up and surveyed my work.   I just wasn't satisfied however.  The star has red glitter paper on it, but it just didn't stand out as much as I wanted.  Thus, the whole word was just lacking that extra little pizzazz.  So, I took down the star while I brainstormed for a minute or two.  I decided to add a couple more papers to make the star look a little bit more like a flag.   Doing this would cover up most of the red glitter, but I decided to take the risk.
 I love the result.  This is the look I was hoping to achieve.  Adding the blue star paper and red stripe paper finished the look of the star and as a result made the whole word cuter.
I couldn't be happier now with my star.
I will keep these letters up for a few days to enjoy them a little bit before putting them away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slipcovered Wing Chairs

Look at this chair.  Isn't it beautiful? 
For a while I have been stewing about my furniture arrangement in my living room.  I've wanted a couple of chairs to add to the space to fill it out a bit.  So, I've been casually looking the past few months for the perfect chairs at the right price.  Now, I'm sure that if I was better at escaping to the thriftstores and rummage sales daily or even weekly, I would have found something long before now.  However, shopping with 3 kids, active boys no less, is not quite on my favorite things-to-do list.  Luckily I scored on a pair of wing chairs recently.

 I knew they would be perfect in the space with a little transformation.  I love the lines of the chair and the legs.  The cushions are in great condition.  The blue fabric isn't even in that terrible of condition.  Its a little thin and worn in places but there were no holes or snags.   However, I don't like the blond stain on the legs.  If it had been a natural stain, I could have lived with it, but I really don't like opaque blond stained wood on anything.
 So, my transformation vision included painting the legs dark brown for a start.
The second half of my transformation plan involved giving the actual chairs a face lift.  Do you follow Miss Mustard Seed?  I adore her blog.  A while ago she wrote a tutorial series on sewing slipcovers, and I have been anxious to try my hand at them.  I knew these chairs would look fantastic in my living room covered in a nice natural canvas.  As per Miss Mustard Seed's instructions, I used painters' canvas drop clothes that I bleached and washed before sewing.  Then, after pinning and sewing and pinning and sewing for many hours, I am finished!   For instructions on making your own slipcover, please head over to Miss Mustard Seeds blog and watch her 6 part video series on sewing slipcovers.  Here is the link for the first video.

I just love the way these chairs turned out.  I can't stop admiring my handiwork.  I couldn't be happier!

Little pleats at the bottom edge.  Its fun to have a feminine touch here and there in such a boyish home!

I put buttons on the backs to close up the sides of the slipcover. 

I love having wing chairs in my room with my antique piano.   I also really love having more cream in the room.  When I first painted the chairs flanking the piano cream, I was worried that they looked weird since all of the other painted chairs in my house are various shades of blue and green, even though I loved the addition of the cream to the room.  Adding these wing chairs completes the look.   My living room is slowly starting to come together.  I will eventually be painting that corner curio cabinet (maybe green?), and I really could use a coffee table or ottoman in the room now.  I've also got a stack of fabric and pillow forms just waiting for me to take the time to sew into throw pillows for this room.  Maybe next week...  For now, I am going to enjoying curling up in one of the wing chairs reading a good book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friday Fashions #17, Blue Striped Tank

Remember my very first Friday Fashion flop?  The blue striped raglan sleeve disaster?
If you don't, and would like a little laugh, feel free to check it out now.  
Oh, it is just hideous!
 But I love the fabric.  Its just kinda fun with the sparkles running through it.  It definitely has a summery vibe.
So why not remake the shirt with summer in mind?  I decided to change my flop into a tank top.
I cut off the top from starting where the sleeves attached and threw that fabric away.  I was left with a basic tube.   I turned it inside out and slipped it on.  With the help of a mirror, I pinned fitted the tube to my torso until I was happy with the fit.  Then I restitched the sides and hemmed the top and bottom. With my left over fabric, I cut out 2 long strips, each 2 inches wide.  I sewed each strip into a long tube to use as shoulder straps.  I pinned the straps into place and sewed.
And I ended up with a successful sewing project, a cool tank to wear during these hot summer months.

Friday Fashions #16, Cowl Neck Blouse

I'm classifying this blouse as another flop.  I guess technically I shouldn't because it fits me.  However, I just don't like the way I look in  it.  I doubt that I will ever wear it.  So, since it is unwearable, it is a flop.
Why don't I like it?  Well,with this fashion, I have a combination of factors working against me.
1. The fabric is much too stiff.  For a cowl neck, you need something that drapes well.  This fabric is very lightweight and floaty, but it does not drape well at all.  My mistake.  I know that looking at this picture, the neck doesn't look that bad. However, I have fussed with it forever to get it to look just right.  And then, just simply walking across the room messes it up.   
2. Cute pattern but the model probably weighs at least 40 lbs less than I do.

This just doesn't do anything to highlight my curves in a flattering way.  The blouse poofs out over my breasts and then is too stiff to drape back in to give my waist a little definition.  Even adding the ribbon belt doesn't really help.
3. Again, I am having issues with cup size vs shirt size.  This specific pattern has gathers in the back (a).  That would be great if I needed the extra fabric on my back.  But I don't!  Instead this just adds an extra poof.    All of that extra fabric flopping around is not slimming (b).
4.  My final flop reasoning, with this pattern and this specific fabric, I think it ages me about 60 years.  This looks like something an old lady would wear.   I've had this fabric in my bin for years.  Actually, an old lady gave it to me.  Haha.  That should have been my first clue.  I had about 5 yrds.  I just wanted to use it up and I thought that the fabric was lightweight enough for this pattern.  Since I was wrong, instead of looking hip and vintage, I look a little like I'm wearing a sack.  
My Plan?  I'm not completely sure at this point.  I have thought that maybe adding a couple darts into the back would help the bunching.   Also, shortening the length by about 3 inches seems to help the draping.   My mom and sisters suggested adding a little ruching to the sides and sewing a gather at the neckline.  I would be taking away the cowl, but adding a V.   Then I could use the satin ribbon to make flowers to embellish the neckline a bit.
My other plan is too simply scrap this blouse and use my remaining 4 yrds of fabric on a different blouse pattern altogether.  Then, I could try this pattern out a second time with different fabric and removing the gathers from the back.
What do you think I should do? 

Friday Fashions MIA, Friday Fashion #15, Gray and Yellow Dress

So, my loyal followers might have noticed that my brilliant plan to sew something for myself every Friday has been MIA for a few months.  It is so hard to complete a personal sewing project every week and still work on my other projects.  I'm really having a hard time managing it. 
I actually have made several items that I need to post about.  However, I am slow at posting.  A good post takes me an unhealthy amount of time. Plus, by the time I have finished my fabulous project, the lighting is WRONG for a good completed picture and Mr. Right is patiently waiting for our weekly date.  I cannot postpone a date with MR. RIGHT to write a note to my internet friends on this blog.  I love all of you, but, I love Mr. Right more.   So, the posts get pushed back to the next day, and then the next, and next, etc.  Add to that, I had about 5 sewing FLOPs in a row.  Who wants to post about a project gone bad?  Not me.  So my motivation is close to zero. Comprende?
I'm actually having a hard time getting any projects done this summer.  We have just been very busy as a family, and with the kids home, I'm barely even getting the essential housekeeping items completed.  And, based on this photo, most could probably say that I'm not even managing those essentials. 

Its taken me about 6 hours to fold my mountain of laundry.  I still have a laundry basket full of the clean items I need to iron.  I'm slowly working my way through the Harry Potter movies...
With Anakin on summer break and Buzz starting preschool in the Fall, I am really trying to focus on spending good, quality time with them.  Which means that I have not been crafting during Mr. Bean's afternoon naptime.  At the moment, my downtime is only in the evenings.  And, because we have gone on several weekends trips this summer, I'm working my shifts at the hospital midweek, and therefore have few evenings free. As a result, my alotted craft time is next to nothing right now.   School starts August 1st, so my schedule should calm down slightly.  But, with a nephew's baby blessing and my sister's wedding, we will continue to travel during the month of August despite school.

I just counted my Friday Fashion posts.  I've posted 14 times.  If I were on top of my self-imposed schedule, I would have posted 27 projects by this week. Yikes!  I don't know if I can catch up from that, but I will try. Today, I'm going to go ahead and post one of my flops.  Because I've spent several hours on Fridays making these flops, I will post all of them eventually.   I plan on remaking each of them eventually into something that I will actually wear, so you will get to see the remodels too.   I've learned something from each of my flops and maybe my readers can learn from my mistakes and avoid the same problems.

Friday Fashion # 15, Gray and Yellow Summer Dress
I saw this fabric at Joann's and I fell in love with it.

It happened to be on sale for 50% off, so each yd was only going to be $5.  I found this Simplicity pattern that I thought looked darling, on sale for $1.99.

Version B calls for 2yrds.  Add $3 for an invisible zipper, and $2 for matching gray thread and I was ready to sew a dress for about $17.  The fabric is fantastic.  It ripples and drapes beautifully. 

Too bad the pattern is awful!!!  It does absolutely nothing for my figure and the fit is poor at that.  The highwaist is just a little too high.  The waistband hits me way too high, before the bottom of my bosum.
 It makes me look like I am 5 months pregnant.  Which I am not!  I might not be skinny, but I am not as fat as this dress makes me look.
On this picture, I drew in my silhouette.  Notice that the bodice needs to be larger and the waist subsequently a little lower to accommodate my figure.  I don't know how to alter patterns well enough to change this.  Now, patterns are written for women with a B cup.  So, even when you sew a larger size, the cup size is still a B.  I don't know very many women that don't increase in cup size when they gain weight.  I certainly do.  I haven't been a B cup since highschool when I was 35 lbs thinner.   Recently the pattern companies seem to be catching on and there have been a bunch of patterns recently released that have alterations included for different cup sizes and shapes. My mom is sewing me a sheath from one of these patterns for my youngest sister's wedding, so I will let you know what I think about it when the time comes.
Lets talk about the bodice.  The pleats are a nice idea for the bosum, but the pattern has a snug lining. So, I am left with a too snug lining and the fabric bunching on the outside.  Not cool.

The sleeves are awful.  There is no movement in them.  So tight and they pull on the dress awkwardly. 
I will never wear this dress as it is. I just don't feel like I look attractive in it at all.   I am so bummed.  This was going to be my Easter dress.  Instead, it has lain in a heap on my sewing room's floor for the past 3 months.
My plan?  There is enough fabric in the dress's skirt that I am going to chop off the bodice and somehow change the skirt portion of the dress into a regular skirt.  I haven't completely decided on the specifics, but that is my general idea.  I would rather have had a nice fitting dress, but since that didn't work and I can't really see any way of salvaging this dress into a new dress, I will change it to a skirt.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Lost Camera

So, my little Buzz Lightyear is quite the character.  One day in May while I was working on that pair of red chairs, I set the camera down on a shelf in the garage when I had to go inside to help Mr. Bean.    My mom and sisters were coming into town later that evening, and I just never made it back outside to work on the chairs or to collect my camera until the next day.  The next day, my camera wasn't on the shelf, and I couldn't find it anywhere else.  I searched high and low.  Nothing.  At the time, I thought that maybe I had just misplaced it and that I would find it soon.  So, I went about my business, enjoying time with my family and then crafting away sans pictures.
Well, a month went by and no camera. I still couldn't find it anywhere.  When I took to boys to Texas to visit my family, I finally broke down and bought a new camera.   But, I've still been very puzzled about my old one.  Where could it have gone?  If I had just misplaced it, I would have eventually found it.  My house can be messy and cluttered, but not that messy or cluttered.
I even asked the boys if they had seen it or taken it.  Both Anakin and Buzz like the camera and frequently ask to take pictures, Buzz especially.  Buzz was taking so many pictures with my camera that my mom, Mimi, got him a kid camera for his birthday back in February.   He denied seeing or taking my camera, so I dismissed that as a possibility.
Well, I guess I shouldn't have.  One evening last week when Mr. Right came home, he noticed the camera resting next to the piano bench.  Buzz was sitting right next to it.  Hmmmm.  When questioned, Buzz admitted that he had "found" the camera under Mimi's bed.  (The boys call our guest room Mimi's room because my mom is by far our most frequent overnight visitor!)  After looking at the over 100 pictures taken, I have concluded that Buzz didn't take all of them in one day.  There are pictures taken from multiple days.  So, clearly, Buzz took the camera and then hid it under then bed after having a few photo shoots.  Now the question remains if he always knew where the camera was, or did he forget about it and then just now find it? Either way, its nice to have the camera back.  I will continue to use our new camera because its a little nicer, but I love that we now have a backup camera too.  
Here is a small sampling of my kid's photography skills.  I have to say, he's not too bad for a 4 year-old.

Nook on the stairs still filled with Easter decorations.  I lost the camera mid May and they were still up then...
Underside of a lamp in Mimi's room.
Yoshi the turtle.  Notice the book with the tie as a bookmark?  I read that book to the boys 2 weeks ago. 
Cars stool in the bathroom?

Daddy's closest
Inside Mr. Bean's toy bin.
Me playing the piano with Anakin and Mr Bean and a sneak peak of my current project. 

Br Bean says cheese!

Like I said, these pictures aren't bad for a little kid.    Now, I just need to learn to put my camera away after every use so that this experience doesn't repeat itself!


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