Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Father Sews Zippers Better Than I Do

Shh... we're here in Singapore, and yes, we've been to the beach and some of us are sunburnt, and today we went swimming till the rain came, but this post is not about that.

My Dad showed me his sewing projects, see. Little cordura zippered pouches for archery equipment. His zipper work is stunning. I have to take pictures and blog them when I get home. He uses one side of the zipper tape. Just one half. Per pouch. So each zipper he buys makes two pouches. Incredibly neat, because there aren't the little zipper tails to deal with, or zipper stops, either. So clever. I feel somewhat inferior, looking at my own bags. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Housekeeping While I'm On the Beach

Well, I'm not on the beach... yet. We're probably still on the plane right now. It's a 22+ hour flight, with just one stopover - for about an hour - in Japan. This is as direct a flight as it gets between the snow and the sunshine. Every time we fly, the husband and I seriously consider flights with a few more stopovers, just so we don't land in Singapore at 1 am. And we always fantasize about flying through Europe or San Fransisco, and catching the Singapore Airlines flight into its home airport. But we always revert to our old, boring Delta direct-flight choice: with little kids, shorter is better, even if it means 15 hours at a stretch. We think going stark raving bonkers confined in an airplane is still much better than going stark raving bonkers lugging ALL our check-in luggage+three kids+their small animal friends all over several other airports as we change planes and re-greet customs officers, force-emptying our water bottles as we go.

Think good thoughts for us as we fly! We have Sharpies! We are invincible! 

I just wanted to get this post out about some housekeeping matters while I'm away.

1 The etsy shop
is closed till we get back. Not that there's a lot in there usually, anyway. You can still convo me about things you like, because I will have internet access where I am. Almost all the ribbon ball kits have been sold, save two (Savanna and Mod Orange), so if you're still thinking of a kit, you can think about those, or I can put a kit together in the colors you might want when I get back.

2 The pattern store
stays open, since the hosting site emails out download links automatically upon receiving payment from you. I don't manually need to send anything out to you, unless you run into download difficulties, which brings me to my plea:
Please, please, please, avoid using Internet Explorer, if you plan to buy a pattern while I'm away. Firefox and Google Chrome are better bets, because IE almost always crashes with these big files. Also, please don't be daft and try and check the download link while you're on your work computer or your iPhone or iPad when you actually want it saved to your computer at home. The file downloads immediately to whichever device you are on. While I have internet access and possibly access to my pattern files remotely, I can't guarantee that I can get them to you by email attachment the way I can when I'm in my own house at my own computer. This means you could be left for two weeks with no pattern and having paypal-ed me your money. I apologize in advance if this happens to you, but I've left this same disclaimer on the page from which you purchase the patterns, so you might be reminded before you click "buy". 

3 Autoposts
(other than this one) will not be happening! I am on vacation. And by "vacation", I mean "I am on vacation". I'll miss you guys, but not enough to want to give the impression that I'm still here when I'm elsewhere. I'm going to be away from my sewing machine (hurrah!) and Mum (bless her) says she collected some neighbor's moving boxes so I may do some cardboarding in Singapore. Maybe if I feel like it, I might even pop in to share some real-time exciting seamstressing from the get-togethers with Auntie Laura, Mum, Dad (sorry - seamster) and Jen and the various other sewing relatives, but, otherwise, things will be quiet around here. See you when we touch down here again!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Tally

17 garments and 1 felt toy.

My brain may be short-circuiting from the disorientation but I'm all set for the trip AND the rest of the summer. Ha! I can start work on Halloween costumes in March!! 

As if.

And we are off to the tropics! See you when we get home!

P.S. Purple racer back sundress found - I'd already packed it in Bag #5. Apparently my brain hadn't waited to get on the plane before turning itself off.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winter Sewing For Summer - the LiEr edition

In addition to that skirt and that other skirt, I only made myself one tshirt.

And while I was at it, I made one for Emily, too. Because I felt bad that all she got from this season of wardrobe enhancement was one miserable swimsuit.

Again, all knit. I think I only sew garments in knit. Although for me, I do denim, corduroy and linen. I need to add wool to this pathetic list. Not now, though. Where we're going this weekend, wool would kill me.

Winter Sewing For Summer - The Kate edition

Kate's summer wardrobe is abundant in hand-me-downs from her older sisters, so I only made her things in styles in which she is showing a particular interest.

She loves skirts, that girl does. She's left the pettiskirt phase behind her, and moved onto circular skirts. If allowed, she will wear the chiffon dress-up skirts from three years ago as regular clothes, sometimes without leggings. Grrr.

So I made her a couple of circular skirts in nice, robust knit. They are far more modest than the chiffon ones. 

She also loves Emily's tiered knit skirt, and has hijacked it to prove the sincerity of her adoration, so I made her a purple version. She has since asked for a blue one as well, which I have promised to produce when we get back from our trip.

Also made her a couple of pairs of shorts, just in case she twirls those full skirts with a little too much exuberance.

Like Jenna's, these 5 garments are all knit. One thing I will share that facilitated speeding through these knit bottoms is the knit waistbands. I cannot recommend them enough for speed, neatness and comfort. The kids love them, and I love making them. They are done in half the time that the scrunchy thread-the-elastic-through-the-casing-with-safety-pin waistbands require. I even make them for woven skirts. Actually, since this I had this sewing epiphany, I have not made an elastic casing waistband again!

Winter Sewing For Summer - the Jenna edition

As I said in the Emily edition, I'm confused.

This was the only winter dress I made (for Jenna or anyone else) this year. Ironically, I cut it out two winters ago for Emily, who outgrew the fabric pieces even before they were ever assembled. So I cut them down to fit Jenna and sewed it up this winter.

Nothing fancy - Tshirt neckline, Tshirt yoke, gathered skirt, long sleeves, pockets - just a playdress to wear around the house and in school.

Maximum fabric coverage.

Immediately after finishing this, I made summer dresses - minimum fabric coverage.

The style is like an extrapolated A-line camisole. 

The armscyes and neckline are bound with ribbing, that continues as the straps

and meets at the side seam.

Here's another racerback sundress.

I like this batik - and yes, it's a knit, not a woven batik. It will fit right in on the beaches of Singapore.

Same dress in a sprinkles knit

Three pairs of knit shorts:

7 garments, all knit. 
And with that, I consider her summer wardrobe comfortably supplemented. 

P.S. Breaking news: the purple batik sundress is missing. I knew it was too good to be true that all 7 garments were where I wanted them to be when they were ready to be packed in the suitcase. This is what happens when I let the children dress cross-seasonally in the house!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cookies for Jenna

Mass-producing garments gets old quickly, even if the whole process is a fast one. For a nice break in the mundane-ness, I hand-sewed a felt toy kit for Jenna for the airplane. I'd seen these dough cut-out cookies on many sites in the past, but none of them inspired anything other than an "oh, cute". Then, recently, I saw Destri's tutorial on The Mother Huddle, and I knew I should (and could) do it for the trip to Singapore.  It was the perfect antithesis to - and balm for - all that efficient, productive, pedal-flooring at the machine: slow, bit-by-bit hand-stitching at nights, enjoying the making as well as the product.

I'll speed through the deconstruction, not only because I didn't stop to take in-progress photos, but also because Destri's tutorial is fabulous in itself.

Here is the cookie dough rolled flat - it is two sheets of felt with cookie shapes cut out and their borders whip-stitched together.

The cut-out hearts were whip-stitched as a sandwich with a layer of fleece between each pair.

Frosting pieces with sprinkles embroidered on their front sides

and fusible fleece ironed onto their backsides, so they cling to the cookies.

Kate snuck out of bed one night and caught me sewing the sprinkles. She guessed immediately what they were, and the next day whispered in my ear, "Are we going to tell Jenna about the cookies?" (No, not yet, Kate!) Good thing she's good at keeping secrets.

I added a little piping bag - because the girls are into piping bags now - which is a quadrant of a circle sewed into a cone and tied at the top. To keep the tip stiff and nozzle-like, I ironed a small piece of fusible interfacing (craft weight, aka craft fuse) on the wrong side of the fabric, at the tip of the cone, before sewing it up.

That little rolling pin was from Michaels, for $1 (or 60cents, with our coupon).

And to hold it all together, so we could take it on the plane with us,

I made a little drawstring sack-of-flour-ish bag.

I can't wait to see Jenna's face when she opens the bag, thousands of feet up in the sky.

Rainbow colors! 

All her favorite things in one little sack :)

Edited March 2018 to add: A reader just notified me that the Destri's tutorial can no longer be found at the link above, so I'm tagging on some instructions to the end of this post so you can still DIY this project yourself.

  1. Find a cookie cutter to use. This cookie cutter will be your template-maker.
  2. Measure out a sheet of felt for the dough that's large enough to fit the number of cookies you want. In my project, this was 8 cookies. Cut out TWO sheets of felt in this size. 
  3. Position the cookie cutter on ONE sheet of dough and trace around it where you want the cookie-cut-outs to be. Carefully cut out all the cookies and save them - you'll be sewing them into the actual cookies later.
  4. Place this sheet of dough on the second (whole) sheet and line up their straight edges. Pin in place and using the cookie-windows of the first sheet, trace the outlines of the windows on the second sheet underneath. Unpin the sheets and carefully cut out the windows in the second sheet.
  5. You will now have two sheets with windows and a bunch of cookie shapes. These cookie shapes will fit exactly in the holes now, but after they've been stitched into cookies, they might be a little snug. So we'll need to either trim the cookies or enlarge the windows slightly. Just a little, though - 1 to 2 mm all around, max. 
  6. Now pin the sheets together and line up the windows. Blanket stitch around each pair of windows, binding the two sheets together around the windows in the process. When all the windows are stitched together, stitch the edges of the two dough rectangles together, trimming any edges askew as necessary. The dough is finished - set aside and work on the cookies now.
  7. Take two cookie shapes and place them together. Blanket stitch around the edge, filling it with a thin layer of stuffing or batting (or even a piece of puffy fabric like fleece) to give it a thickness but not make it puffy. Repeat to complete all the cookies. The cookies are finished - set aside.
  8. Using the cookie cutter, make a template for the frosting pieces - trace around the cutter outline, then trim away enough all around to make a template that's the same shape but smaller. Cut out frosting pieces from felt.
  9. Embroider sprinkles on the RS of each piece of felt.
  10. Cut out pieces of fusible fleece (buy from JoAnn or any fabric store) that are a little smaller than the frosting pieces and iron them to the WS of the frosting pieces. The frosting pieces are now finished.