Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Most Ridiculous Thing I've Ever Made

 We got a dog last week!  Her name is Dede and she is a 14 month old English Bulldog.  She is house trained, good with people and dogs, and just about the chillest dog I've ever met.  We got Dede from an awesome breeder in Charlotte when she didn't quite work out as a show dog.  We were hoping to get her fixed before she went into heat......but I found blood spots on the carpet last night.  I have no experience with dogs in heat.  I learned that she could be spotting for up to 2 weeks.  I couldn't find a diaper cover in her size at the pet store, so I made one.


She makes for a wiggly model.


I used this free pattern and modified it for Dede's 25" waist.  I don't have big squares of velcro in my stash so I secure it with some safety pins.  She has a tiny little corkscrew-shaped tail, and therefore, doesn't need a tail hole.  Dede couldn't care less that she is wearing a diaper.  


I added some elastic around the butt area.  Next time I'll make the elastic tighter and continue it around the front of her legs.  There is an extra long maxi pad inside to catch drips.


This is Dede's favorite spot.  She will sit here for hours if you touch her.  She likes nothing more than to be loved on.  My super sensitive pregnant nose + the smell of Dede's 'that time of the month' = angry, annoyed, cranky Stephanie.  I have been mad at her all day.  But now that it's all covered up, how can I not love that face? 


She's perfect!



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kwik Sew 3513 | I Love Yoga Waistbands!


I've had Kwik Sew 3513 in my stash for about a year and decided it was time to make a black staple skirt.  I used a rayon/cotton knit from Five Eighths Seams.  I almost fainted when I saw the price ($17 per yard) but I only needed 1.5 yards, and this knit was so soft and drapey, I gladly forked out the plastic.  This four seasons skirt will get tons of wear.

This pattern comes together stupid fast and is basically fool-proof.  The front and back are the same pattern piece and then you cut out two waistbands and you're set!  Only five seams to finish and I didn't even have to hem the skirt edge.


My only advice is you may want to cut your waistband a bit larger (at first) just to be safe - I learned this the hard way one time.  Every knit is different!

I used my sewing machine and walking foot with a twin needle on the lightning bolt stitch.  My Janome serger was out of commission.  I just barely got it back after being in the shop for 2 months!


Sorry for the sucky picture.  Sometimes black is difficult to photograph and I didn't have the time (or desire) to fix it.  There are plenty of more photos on patternreview.com.

I highly recommend this pattern!  It's a great wardrobe builder, is perfect for people new to sewing with knits, and I definitely plan to use this pattern again.  Oh - no, this isn't a maternity pattern and yes, it totally fits around my growing belly.  I love yoga waistbands for that reason.  I made this skirt when I was about 8 weeks along and at 22 weeks it still fits great.


Happy sewing!



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Organizing The Sewing Room

Over Christmas I came to the sudden realization that my house was a big, huge, unorganized mess.  Some would call it nesting, I think it was more of a, "Holy crap, this total wreck is driving me nuts!!  Make it stop!"  I went on a rampage, detailing to my husband everything in the house that I wanted changed (including a long list of honey do's).  We made a list of organization projects and repairs I wanted done and we've been working on it ever since.

One of the big organizing projects was the sewing room, which also doubles as our office.  The goal for this project was to use everything we had and spend as little money as possible.  It's still a WIP but is a thousand times better than the tornado pic I posted last time.  Scott moved my sewing table to the outside wall and I love having a window to look out of while I work.  



He pushed the fabric hutch up into the corner.  I thought it would look dumb, but it makes my fabric really accessible to me while I'm working on a project.  With the space we created in the middle of the room, we're able to put down a queen mattress when family comes into town.


I used to shove my cutting mats in the far corner of the room.  Now they are neatly hung on the door.  I mounted a couple of command strips and hung the mats from hangers.  My Olfa mat stays put on the hanger, but the light green mat (today it rested on the sewing table) requires some shelf liner to keep it from slipping.  I put ribbon loops on my rulers and hung them from a command strip on the wall.  It's nice to have everything out of sight, but easy to access.


I've been meaning to hang this serger thread organizer since we moved in 2013.  I'm sure this has never happened to you: you see something for 70% off that is slightly damaged (2 pegs were broken off) and think to yourself, "I can fix that!"  It goes into a box of forgotten projects.  When you finally get around to fixing it, it takes like 2 hours to fix (that you could have spent sewing) and you wish you'd just bought one on sale or used a coupon.

Oh well, at least I got to use my drill.  As you can see in the picture above, the top left peg and the bottom leg peg had broken off.  I bought a dowel at Lowe's roughly the same size as the the others.  



I hollowed out the holes until they were wide and deep enough to hold new dowels.  I cut the dowels with a big pair of branch loppers because a saw would have eaten the poor dowel to pieces.  I sanded the dowel until it fit in the hole nice and snug.  I put some wood glue in the hole, popped the new dowel in, waited for it to dry, and my cone thread organizer was as good as new!


Mounting my thread organizers was a little trickier.  They are advertised as being able to be hung on the wall but no hardware is provided.  I used to hang my spools from the red ribbon on the right, but it wasn't very stable on a nail.  I wanted something more permanent, so I screwed them to the wall.  

First, I drilled holes on either side of the racks.  Then, I held the racks up to the wall and measured where the holes in the wall would be. I drilled holes in the wall and popped my plastic anchors in the wall.  Finally, I inserted the screws through the racks first, then used a screwdriver to screw them to the wall.



I am very pleased with the result!  


My husband installed my new Ikea shelf above the thread organizers.  I bought the shelf a year ago and realized I forgot to buy the brackets that come with it.  Booo!!!  We live HOURS away from an Ikea so I finally went to Lowe's and just bought a couple of brackets.  I couldn't drill into the shelf to secure it to the brackets, so we took some command strip adhesive and applied it to the side of the bookshelf that butts up against the wall.  This should keep it from toppling off the brackets.



I love my new bookshelf and having the thread on the wall.  The DIY art piece and the philodendron plant added a nice touch.

The total cost for this project was only $20 (bookshelf mounts, command strips, mounting screw kit, and a dowel for the thread organizer).

It's not Pinterest-worthy but I am loving it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here's The Scoop...

Hey guys, it's been a while!  I took a nice long break from blogging and here's the scoop:  I am pregnant!

13 weeks - Thanksgiving 2014 Bahama Cruise
This is funny because during my Lane Raglan photoshoot I remember being confused as to why my belly was pooching out and it was strange that I had suddenly put on a few pounds.  The white bamboo cotton clung to my tummy and just accented what I wanted to hide, so I sucked in my gut as much as I could and hoped it would disappear.  I was just barely pregnant in those photos, and soon I started putting on a bit of weight everywhere.


We've wanted children almost as long as we've been married but it just didn't happen for us like it did for many of our friends.  That was really tough.  The pain of infertility, the sting of wondering if you will ever be parents is a feeling you just cannot comprehend unless you've experienced it yourself.  During that first year, I visited my doctor in Colorado after being convinced that my progesterone was low.  She ran some tests and insisted I was fine.  I did not feel fine.  I had symptoms I could not explain, like sensitivity to cold and hot flashes that left people wondering if I was menopausal.  

When we moved to South Carolina, we visited a fertility specialist.  There was more testing and not a lot of answers.  They couldn't definitively tell us what was wrong, but said that IVF might give us the best chance at a family.  I wasn't ready to put myself through that.  There were some more tests that had to be run before we made any decisions and I drug myself the lab in early January 2014 to get it over with.  A few days later they told me my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was high, and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I started taking Synthroid and noticed a difference in just five days.  I had more energy in the weeks following than I had had in years, my cycles were much less painful, and the depression that had hung over me finally disappeared.

I have a love hate relationship with medications.  This one has changed my life for the better and is most likely the reason I am able to be pregnant now.  I am so grateful that this trial, for us, has ended!

I still think pregnant women are smug - see this video here.  FYI: this song is hilarious but a little vulgar.  Us pregnant gals are sometimes in our own little world and sometimes we think we are just so awesomely important.  If you've ever thought that we are annoying, you will enjoy the video.

.     .     .     .     .

WARNING - this section contains pregnancy symptoms - skip below for more sewing related rambling.

The first trimester was a little rough.  I was just so darn TIRED all of the time, it was all I could do to show up to work and shove food in my mouth during the day, despite the nausea and food aversions.   My poor husband tried to make me food I would eat but I was a really picky eater.  I couldn't concentrate long enough to do anything sewing related.  I think I made like one yoga band skirt - that was IT - for 3 months.  Totally unlike me!  (Still unblogged.)

The second trimester has been much better.  Those pesky first trimester symptoms have disappeared and now I'm just normal pregnant tired by midday and conk out on the couch at home, or I'm at work, forego the nap, and sleep really well at night.  Also, my TMJ symptoms disappeared and I no longer have to eat soft foods to avoid headaches.  The one exception to loving this stage of pregnancy has been that my gallbladder up and quit on me.  How rude!!  I didn't know just how important the gallbladder is for digesting fats until mine suddenly stopped working and said, 'See-ya!' (Apparently this is a common pregnancy problem.)

So now, my diet is completely saturated fat free (well, almost) and I'm able to live sans-gallbladder pain.  Adjusting my diet was hard at first, but I'm pretty used to it now and just so happy not to have horrible gallbladder pain, bloating, gas and other gross symptoms that you most certainly would rather me leave out of this post.  When I look back, I realize that I'm a lot more healthy since the switch...I eat more fruits and veggies and basically can't eat fast food.  I'm not worried anymore that I'm packing on pounds that won't come off easily postpartum.

I'm have more energy and motivation lately and want to work on projects that have been sitting for months.  I know the clock is ticking and it will be just another 2 months or so before I'm as big as an elephant and am unmotivated for that reason.


Here's me this week, at 18 weeks pregnant.  This picture makes me look bigger than normal because the fabric doesn't cling to my back.  Let's be honest though...I'm a shorty and there's no place for this kid to grow but out.

So, as far as my sewing life goes...

1. I bought the beautiful Huskylock s21 serger (made by Viking) in December.  My basic Janome serger has been in the shop most of the year and I'm sick of it!  They can't figure out why it's not cutting right and keep insisting it's just a dull knife, then keep my machine for 2 months while they wait on parts.  I've gone thru this several times and I decided to cast it away like a bad boyfriend.  I will say, most people love their Janomes - don't let me deter you -but this one just hasn't been the same since our move.  
The Huskylock will allow me to do more awesome stuff like a coverstitch.  I decided if I was going to bite a bullet and buy an expensive machine, it had better have a coverstitch.  Also, this big guy creates just the most beautiful stitching.  I'm still waiting for my serger to ship.  Maybe I shoulda just taken the floor model, oops.  I'm looking forward to learning how to use it.

2.  My sewing room is a disaster!  There has been some talk lately in the crafty-blogging world about how we don't show people how our rooms actually look.  Instead we paint the picture of the perfectly organized room and fool everyone into thinking we are Martha Stewarts 24-7.  This room was not in great shape before my pregnancy but it got so much worse in the last few months.  Right before we got on a plane on Christmas day, my ironing board fell over and I just left it there.  Here's the before picture...don't judge!


My husband helped me organize this mess and change the layout over the weekend.  Soon I will have some much improved after pictures to post here.  When a room gets to this level of messiness I go bonkers trying to organize it.  Seriously, it turns into a case of adult ADD and I don't get anything accomplished.

3.  I have handful of pregnancy patterns I want to try out - it's just a matter of finding time and motivation to follow through.

4.  Once we find out the gender, I will begin sewing sewing for this kiddo.  I've thought about making stuff before the gender ultrasound, but I want to actually use the stuff I make, not just give it away.  I want to make a little blanket, burp cloths, some clothes and softies and some little shoes.  

I've been much more interested in house projects lately than sewing, so maybe I'll talk about those, too.  I love painting walls and furniture.  It is so relaxing!  I know I won't have any time for that in a few months so we are trying to get projects done now.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lane Raglan by Hey June


Hey, it's the Lane Raglan by Hey June Patterns!  I am seriously so excited about this because I have been looking for a great basic raglan knit t-shirt pattern and it's finally here!  The neckline placement is perfect for me and I like having the option for sleeve and waistband cuffs.  Mostly, I love that it is a great basic raglan tee pattern - the first I've been able to find anywhere.



I made this up in a white bamboo/lycra jersey and a cotton/lycra jersey 'floral knit red' from Harts Fabrics.


I also loved the 'floral knit blue' but I decided that my wardrobe needed some more red.


These two fabrics were a challenge to marry together because the white fabric was so much stretchier than the floral.  

My serger threw a fit while I was sewing and the upper looper threads pulled to the wrong side.  This is a problem because the seam was pulling open.  After messing with the knobs for a half an hour, I was no closer to a solution.  I rethreaded the serger and realized that the thread from the lower looper hadn't been hooked into one of the hooks and it was making the serger stitching all wonky.  Duhh!!  Problem solved!

I like that this pattern instructs the sewist to insert the neck band before sewing up the 4th sleeve seam.  Easy as pie!  I've noticed some sewists did not follow Hey June's instructions on stretching the neck band as it is sewn into the neckline, and instead they use the entire pattern piece regardless of the fabric's percent stretch.  This results in a neckband that gapes and does not hug the neck.  I used Claire Thorp's method for inserting the neck band.  I love Claire's method because it is quick, there is no measuring, and I got a perfect looking neckband the first try.


I topstitched the neckband with a twin needle.  You'll notice that I chose to leave my sleeve edges unfinished this go around.  They are fuss free!  I loved working with this pattern and can't wait to make another in a grey polka dot.  (Sorry about the blurry photos - the dreary weather did not cooperate and I hate using a flash.)

Does anybody have tips for working with extremely stretchy knits?  I've tried changing the differential feed, stitch length and moving to my sewing machine and using the walking foot with the lightning bolt stitch.  The seams are still wavy.  Have any of you tried a stabilizer for your knits?  It would have to be something temporary because I do want the seam to be stretchy.  Let me know if you have any secret tricks!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vogue 1395 Rayon Challis Dress

I love cute floral prints!


They are really hard to find.  It took me three visits to Five Eighth Seams to take this fabric home with me. When I find a bold floral I like, I'm scared that after I buy it, I will realize that it is obviously mumu material.

This is a Joel Dewberry print called "Bungalow Dahlia Lavender". I <3 rayon challis!


But let me tell you about this pattern...we have a love/hate relationship.  I love the design but the pattern instructions are awful!  (This is one of the first designer Vogue patterns I've actually finished.  It's too bad their instructions are not more straightforward.)

The pictures were confusing and the instructions on how to insert the bias bound neckline didn't say how deep to make the seam.  Usually, that means a 5/8" seam allowance, but given the already narrow strip of binding, I knew that couldn't be right.  I didn't use the pattern for the bias tape.  Since I had made alterations to the neckline, I found it easier to just cut a long strip 1 1/4" wide on the bias, fold it in half, and sew the neckline seam at 1/8".  Because my seam was tiny, I didn't have to trim any off before I folded it and under-stitched.  When making a bias bound neckline, you want to stretch your bias fabric just a teensy bit as you sew it into the curve.  This ensures that it will lie flat.

I used my serger to insert the waist elastic.  I find that Vogue patterns waists fit me at a perfect spot (I'm short-waisted).

Because of the curves, I did not use my rolled hemmer foot (this is my most popular tute). I learned how to make a very precise, professional-looking rolled hem on the curves with this awesome tutorial.  I recommend using the second method for slippery fabrics like rayon challis and satin.


Pattern Alterations: Small Bust Adjustment, brought the neckline up and in at the shoulders, added length to the sleeves, brought the armscye up a bunch (other people complained the armholes were super gapey), took some width out of the center back (people complained it was gapey as well).

So glad this project turned out nicely!  I wish I'd made this at the beginning of summer.



This is actually the first really satisfying project I've finished in months.  It's a real confidence booster!

In other news, it is super, duper comfy.

If you're planning on making this dress good luck!  Let me know if you get stuck.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Baby Shower Gift - Free Patterns!

Baby shower gifts are so easy to make and they come together quickly! I have soooo many scraps and remnants, I can go shopping for fabric in my own sewing room.  I made an entire 3-6 month baby girl outfit using the baby tunic pattern from iCandy and the Baby Go to Leggings pattern.  I made the little headband without a pattern. 


I used jegging fabric and a little floral cotton .  I love the little pocket on the chest and the floral peplum.  I used my serger to gather the fabric and to hem the bottom edge.


The little leggings were so easy to sew.  Remember to hem the pants BEFORE sewing the inside legs together.  It is really hard to get your presser foot around the little leg hole if you don't!


I also made two more burp cloths, using my pattern, to include in the gift: