Monday, October 13, 2014

Foldover Waist Pocket Skirt

I had a little piece of my Kokka Owl print double gauze leftover from my Ruby tunic, so I asked Little Sister if she wanted a skirt made out of it.  She said she did, but she wouldn't wear it unless it had purple on it.

I didn't mind obliging.



I added pockets, which are essential for her these days, and since the only purple I had in my stash was a thickish jersey, I decided to make a foldover waistband.  I also added a band of the purple at the hem, and used a little bit to trim the pockets as well.



Quick, cute, comfy, and made from scraps--a winner of a project!



She chose to wear it on her half-birthday.

Who's four and a half?
Clearly she needed a crown to accessorize.

Couldn't resist this silly face
I love this skirt for her--I actually think this fabric is better on a kid than it is on me, but I still couldn't resist it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Signature Style Week: Hello Kitty Liberty of London!

Well, my photo shoot plans had to be cancelled for the typhoon we are currently experiencing here in Tokyo (Typhoon Phanfone, which I keep misreading as Pantone)--the kids' school is even closed today!  But I did finish my final look for this season's Project Run and Play, Signature Style Week.

This kind of challenge often stymies me, because it's so wide open--what IS my personal style?  And how does that translate when I am sewing for someone else?  Someone who has opinions, and increasingly strong ones at that?  Well, this week it all came together with an outfit that we are both really happy with.


On my first fabric shopping trip in Tokyo, I found this amazing Liberty of London print featuring Hello Kitty on Tana Cotton Lawn.

Hello Kitty in a formal garden!
Now, if you know me, this does not sound like the beginning of a signature style look for me.  I normally steer clear of licensed characters on the kids' clothing, and I am always in search of a bargain, which Liberty of London most definitely is not.  But I had just gotten my first-ever Liberty print using a gift certificate I had won, and I was still all aflutter with how lovely it was.  And the kitties (which, as I'm sure you know, are not actually kitties at all) were subtle--a fun little accent and nod to our recent arrival in Japan.  And I knew Little Sister would go crazy for it, since she never gets to have characters on anything except her underwear.  So since it was 20% off, I went for it, and thus marks the most money I have spent on fabric for a garment ever.  And it wasn't even for me!  But I was right--as soon as she saw the fabric, she started bugging me--"When are you going to make my Hello Kitty dress?  Have you made my Hello Kitty dress yet?  Are you making my Hello Kitty dress today?"

Lucky duck!
For the dress, I used The Caroline Party Dress from Mouse House Creations, a pattern I had purchased a while back but had yet to try.  The classic design seemed perfect for this cotton lawn, and I love the peter pan collar for a little accent.

The lining is the same pale pink fabric I used for the collar.
I sewed up the pockets-and-underskirt with no tulle version, and added piping as well, on the collar and at the waist. My girl is 4.5, and a bit on the small side, but she loves a big long skirt, so I sewed a size 4 bodice with a size 5 skirt.  The bodice is roomy, but not so much that she can't wear it, and I feel like it will fit for a while (which is good since it was an investment!).  I love the way this fabric moves, with the pattern's full skirt and underskirt--it's just as graceful as my girl!

Tiny dancer
But this is definitely a summery-feeling dress, and it is the first week of October.  Even when it's warm out, Little Sister likes to throw a cardigan on over her clothes, so I thought it would be fun to have a little coordinating cardi.  I love mixing prints, so this was a bit of my style thrown in--especially since I love the blues and turquoise in the print, but for Little Sister's style I featured the pink on her dress accents.



I based the cardi off of a little pink shrug that Little Sister wears all the time.  And as I was looking at it to get ready to make this new cardi, I realized that with all of the wear it gets (plus the other two girls who wore it before handing it down to us), that it might be time to replace that cardi anyway.  So I made this one reversible--the light pink on the inside is a pretty close match to the old one.

Little Sister likes this side better, because she says the striped fabric is softer against her skin.
Both cardi fabrics came from Girl Charlee--the pink is a baby rib knit, and the stripe is a cotton jersey blend.  In my opinion, BOTH are super soft!

I almost forgot to show off the back!  But boo, I didn't get any pictures of my perfectly invisible invisible zipper.

I made the sleeves a little longer than normal so that I could cuff them to show the opposite fabric, and I used a hook-and-eye closure so that it could be easily closed from either side.



I used one of my little scraps to make a matching headband too.  It's just a tube of fabric, then I made some pleats at the end and tucked a piece of Foldover Elastic in both ends and sewed it together!  Easy peasy.  Going to make a few in different fabrics for myself.

Which she actually does like, I promise!
It's funny--I was looking at pictures of Little Sister taken about two and a half years ago, where she was wearing a dress my mom had made for me when I was two (the third dress in this post, if you're curious).  It was in a fancy fabric (I was a flower girl in her friend's wedding), and it had a piped collar and waistband, and I remember thinking, I would NEVER be able to sew these kinds of details!  But guess what?  Here I am, doing it!  And I must say, I am pretty proud of the results.  And while I would consider this dress to be more fancy than everyday, Little Sister disagrees--she has worn it three days in a row, somehow keeping it clean, and wants to wear it to school this week.  I helped her choose something else for tomorrow, since she has both PE and Art, but she assured me it was great for running fast!  This dress definitely has Little Sister's signature style written all over it.

Oh!  And I have been watching the dreamy outfits that have been coming from the I [heart] Marcel Marlier series that Straight Grain and sewpony are hosting, and even though I have never been exposed to Marcel Marlier's books before, I feel pretty confident in linking this look up with their sewalong--between the peter pan collar, the full skirt, the cardigan, and the headband, I'm pretty sure this outfit works!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Denim Challenge--Fall Style for the Boy

OK!  Selfish Sewing Week is over, and it's time to get back to Project Run and Play and sewing for my kids!  This week's challenge was denim, which means it's The Boy's turn to get an outfit (since Little Sister will not wear anything made of denim, no matter how cute and feminine I make it).

I struggled with this week a little, since The Boy has a school uniform this year and therefore needs far fewer clothes to get him through the season.  But when I found this cool denim (in--you guessed it--Nippori, Tokyo's Fabric Town), I got inspired to make him a fun fall outfit to wear on the weekends.

He even had denim shoes!
 I can totally picture him wearing this on a crisp walk in the country when we are traveling around Japan this fall.


The brown denim caught my attention because in addition to having a slight stretch, it also had a really soft, brushed interior.

Can you tell it's fuzzy from this picture?
I hadn't seen this type of denim before, and it seemed to me like it would give some extra warmth without adding the bulk of a lining.  I started with the unisex Hosh Pants pattern from LouBee Clothing, but sized it up since he's already out of the size 6.  I also widened the leg slightly (more than the upsizing would have been), and opted for a knit casing for an elastic waistband rather than the button-tab elastic.  Oh, and I added a faux fly, using this tutorial from Melly Sews.

I love the fit!

One final touch on the jeans--I freehanded a loose "LJ" on the back pockets--The Boy's first and middle initials ;)   He loves that!


And I lined the pockets with the same fabric I used on his shawl collar, even though it's pretty much impossible to see.


His shirt is not made of denim, but this variegated blue knit had a denim feel for me.  And the woven print I used for the collar also has a denim-like variation in the solid background color that it's hard to capture on film, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Let's just pretend the print on the collar isn't upside down.
 I used the free Scrubby Jams top pattern from Sewing Mama RaeAnna as a jumping off point for this shirt, but cut it narrower since I was using knit, and made some adjustments to the top pieces and the binding to get this shawl collar effect.


The collar is hand-tacked in several places so it looks just casually folded over but in reality it's not going anywhere.  And I did a rolled hem on the sleeves--I was planning on adding a cuff, but they were exactly the right length and the fabric rolled nicely, so I just tacked that in place too.  I can always add a cuff later when his arms get too long for it!

Both fabrics cost less than $1 per yard. I just want to buy all the fabrics.
 I like taking the denim blue colors and textures but mixing it with actual denim in a different color, avoiding the Texas Tuxedo look.


The final touch was the cap, which I made out of an old jean skirt of mine using this free sunhat pattern from Lusa Organics.  I made the brim smaller, and since the denim was a little thicker than the cottons shown in the tutorial I thought I could get away with a double layer of interfacing on the brim since I didn't have any hat brim insert material.

The seams were from the skirt I cut up--I couldn't avoid them, so I placed them front and center.
 It seems to have worked!


The hat lining is the same knit I used on the shirt.


And bonus--the hat fits me too!  We might have to share!




And it just wouldn't be a photo shoot with my boy if there wasn't a pic of him airborne, so here you go!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall 2014 Selfish Sewing Round 2

This is the first time that I've participated in Selfish Sewing Week, and I'm not entirely sure how it's supposed to work--do I sew this week, then share what I've been making at a later date?  I've been trying to sew AND document/share, but I tell you--I'd be able to sew a lot more if I wasn't trying to get photos and blog posts done as well!

That said, I do feel like I accomplished quite a bit in the name of selfish sewing.  In the past week, I've sewn two t-shirts, a cardigan, a dress, and a blouse for myself.  And I have one more top that I count for Selfish Sewing even though I finished it about a week beforehand, because it wasn't until SSW that I found time to blog about it.  My previous post shows off those first tops, and today's post is for the pieces that I was so excited to sew this week--I bought the fabric a while back and made myself wait to make this dress and top during Selfish Sewing Week, so that I could sew kid things for Project Run and Play while waiting for SSW to begin!

First off is my very first Washi Dress.  The top I made last week was a practice run for this dress--I did end up going up a size in the dress since the fabric I was using is a bit thicker and I am glad I did. I couldn't be happier with the dress's fit.



Instead of doing the cute U cutout, I cut the neckline out a little lower than the pattern (I used the bottom of the cutout as my guide--I felt like the fabric was busy enough without the extra detail), and I added a couple of inches to the length of the bodice just like I did in my wearable muslin, to get the fit just the way I like it.  And I lined the bodice instead of using the facing, again like I practiced before.

Love that my gold sandals match the dots on the fabric :)

I was so excited to find this Melody Miller Ruby Star Polka Dot fabric in Tokyo's fabric town!  It's soooooo pretty--I actually bought it in two different colors because I couldn't decide, and it was less than $4 a yard!  I bought 3 meters of each color, so you may be seeing another version of this in the aqua soon.  You can't really tell in the photos, but the little rows of dots between the arrows are actually a metallic antique gold color.   SO PRETTY!



I have to give credit--I was looking at images of this fabric online, and found this blog post documenting this exact dress.  When I saw her pics, I knew that's what I wanted to make out of mine too, and that's when I bought the Washi pattern!  Hope she doesn't mind ;)  I loved that she cut the sleeves from the scalloped border!

Back view
I wish I had cut the skirt a smidge shorter, because I envisioned this dress going year-round with tights, boots, and a cardi, but I was afraid of cutting it too short, and then because I didn't want to lose the border print I couldn't hem it any more, so it came out a little longer than I wanted.    But as you can see, I still totally love it!

Goofing around for my photographers--I let the kiddos run the remote.
But what do I get for being silly on camera?  I get photobombed, that's what.


Anyhoo, I did manage to make one more top before Selfish Sewing Week ends, but I wasn't able to get out again for photos.  So here's the shirt:

It's a modified Ruby Tunic, another pattern from Made by Rae.
And here's my iPhone selfies modeling the finished product:

As good as the photo session gets this time around!
On this one, I again cut the neckline lower (what can I say, I like an open neck!) and added sleeves.  I started with the free Washi sleeve pattern, but added a few inches to get a 3/4 sleeve.  I also had to cut the sleeve a little narrower to fit on my remaining Kokka owl print double-gauze, and I am happy with the way they came out!  You will not be surprised to hear that this was another Tokyo fabric find, at less than $6 a yard, and it's soooo soft and warm.  This is the first item I've sewn for myself out of this kind of fabric, and it was kind of surprising to me how snuggly it feels.  Kind of like wearing a more breathable flannel.  That's why I wanted the longer sleeves--it seemed like a great fall tunic to wear with jeans.  The print is a little more childish youthful than I usually go for, but after eyeballing it on my first trip to Nippori and not being able to get it out of my head, I bought a meter and a half on my second trip (and I have just enough left over to make a little Milkmaid Skirt for Little Sister.  Although she told me she wouldn't wear it unless I put purple stripes on it.)

And I couldn't resist using this cute gingham bias tape I found at the 100 Yen store for the neckline!


I finished it in time to wear it on my visit to Fukuro no Mise, or Tokyo's Owl Cafe--I wrote about that experience on our family's blog.

One final little selfish project--although you can't really call it "sewing"--

I cut a little scrap of my Melody Miller Ruby Star Spring 2012 to slip under my new clear phone case.  I love this idea--I can change out the fabric whenever I get antsy for a new design!

This fabric--another find at less than $4 per yard. Don't know yet what I'll do with the rest of it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Selfish Sewing Week 2014--Fall

How fortuitous--this fall's Selfish Sewing Week is occurring during the first time my husband has had to travel in four months!  One of the huge benefits of our current overseas adventure is that his job, which in the states involved travel 2-3 times per month, has been completely local.  Until now.  And while we miss him terribly, there are a few silver linings to this trip of his back to the good old U S of A.  Firstly, he will be able to bring us a bunch of stuff that's expensive or hard to find in Japan.  And secondly, I can sew after the kids go to bed without ignoring him!  I do have to say, my evening sewing time has been cut down since I used to spend a lot of my lonely nights in front of the sewing machine while the hubby was traveling, but on the flip side both of my kids are in school full time now, so I can sew during daylight hours!

So this week, I've decided to sew for the kids during the day, mostly for Project Run and Play submissions, and after bedtime it's all about me!  Here's what I've accomplished so far:

First, I made my first Washi tunic from Made by Rae!  And now I know why anyone who has the pattern makes it over and over again--I already have the fabric and modifications lined up for my second and third Washis. I love this pattern and although I am a total pattern cheapskate I would say that it was worth buying.   That's my recommendation for the one or two holdouts who still haven't bought this pattern ;)


One of the reasons I waited so long to buy and make a Washi is because I have a  long torso and I was worried that the empire-adjacent waistline would look maternity on me.  So, duh, I lengthened the bodice by about two inches.  I love where it hits and think it's pretty darn flattering.  I LOOOOVE the shirred back--both for how easy it is to sew and wear, and also because it gives a really custom-looking fit.



I used some Japanese fabric that I bought in Nippori, Tokyo's fabric town, at the Tomato discount store called Arch.  It was 100 yen per meter (so a little less than $1 per yard)!  I loved the print--it's little villages with hot air balloons--and the feel of the fabric (no maker information on the selvage, sorry!) but because it was such a great deal I also felt good about using it for my first try, as a sort of wearable muslin.  And it came out very, very wearable!  I used another 100 yen fabric for the lining--a soft navy blue cotton that feels maybe like a batiste?  I did the full front and partial back lining that Rae demonstrates here rather than the facings.

I love how professional it looks on the inside!


I originally intended to do a separate blog post just about my Washi top, but in the interest of time (MY time that is; I'm using some of it for blogging instead of sewing right now!), I'm just throwing all of my Selfish Sewing pieces thus far into this one post.

Next up is yet another 100 yen per meter project, a scoop-necked cap sleeve tissue tee using iCandy Handmade's free pattern.  I love it!

Can you see my side seam?  I didn't think so!  MAN I rocked the stripe matching on this one.
This fabric was a bear to work with--really thin and stretchy, so it was tricky to keep the stripes lined up, and sew it without stretching it all over the place.  But I love how the print has varying width stripes, and the wide ivory area that I put at the shoulders.

My one complaint with this pattern is that the armholes came out pretty small.  It was ok since my fabric was so stretchy, but I cut them bigger on my next try with the pattern, and I was a happier camper.  It might be because I did a tiny binding on the sleeves instead of just hemming them, but I really like the look of the bound cap sleeve and neckline.   I used one of the black stripes to make my binding for contrast with the top of the shirt.  I also added a couple of inches to the bottom because I like my t-shirts long.

I made one more of these shirts, this time in a nice thick knit from Girl Charlee that I brought with me from the states.  As I mentioned before I cut the sleeve openings a little wider on this one, but I kept the binding instead of hemming here too.  I kept this one closer to the original length of the pattern too--I think I only added an inch here.

The binding is a dark plum knit.
 I really like this one too, for a more casual top.  I think the other one can be dressed up or down, but this one is happiest lounging around with jeans.   This was a fun pattern because it's such a quick sew--each one took one night after the kids were in bed.


I had to include this photo--this was the test shot I took before handing the camera over to The Boy and letting him take the photos above of this shirt.  Hey, the hubby is out of town and sometimes I just don't want to pull out the tripod!  He did a great job :)


Finally, with another piece of 100 yen fabric, I made this cute cardigan, also a free pattern from iCandy Handmade.  It was an easy sew, since there are no closures.

My photographer had to go to bed, so it's back to the tripod and remote.
The fabric I used on this one was a double-knit that looked like a fine sweater knit on one side and a sort of textured jersey on the other, so I used one side for the body of the cardigan and flipped it for the binding and cuffs.  I love the way it turned out!


My fabric was pretty stretchy, so that may have been the problem, but I had issues with my sleeves being too wide at the top to fit the armholes as well as the back of the sweater gapping at the top.  I remedied both problems by adding inverted pleats, which I actually LOVE the look of and wish I could say they were part of the plan from the beginning.



Hopefully I will have more to share for the rest of Selfish Sewing Week--I've got plans, big plans; I just have to find out how much energy I have after the kids go to bed the rest of the week!  **UPDATE--this post has the rest of my Selfish Sewing projects for this week.  Feeling pretty good about what I accomplished!