Monday, January 26, 2015

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival

I just did a post about my visit to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival over on my family blog, and I thought there might be some interest in it here too!  This was such an exciting afternoon--I literally walked around with my jaw dropped.  As someone who is contemplating quilting for the first time it was a bit overwhelming, but just as an observer and appreciator, I was in AWE!  The post is chock-full of photos of quilts, so head over if you're interested!

Oh, and here are a couple of iPhone photos I snapped before I pulled out the big guns, so these photos aren't in the other blog post!

From the area inspired by children's books

In the free design area

Amazing embroidery!

Too many to choose a favorite!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bubble-Inspired Pocket Dress

It's time for Project Run and Play again!  They are running things a little differently this time around, so you'll be seeing posts from me throughout the year on various inspirations from the online sewing contest, rather than every week for the next month.

The first inspiration is a sweet bubble-style sundress from Alida Makes.  I have actually sewn a sundress inspired by this pattern/tutorial once before, for a different season of Project Run and Play!  That was the first and only time I had sewn a bubble dress, and I loved the way it turned out.  However, I have since learned that Little Sister is not really interested in bubble dresses.  She NEVER wears that dress, no matter how much I push it.  I had purchased a few knit bubble skirts that were similarly ignored, so I had sort of given up on the bubble idea for her clothes.

But then.  I definitely wanted to participate in this month's sew-along!  I thought I would sweeten the pot for Little Sister by making this dress out of the lovely nani IRO double gauze that she has had her eye on ever since I brought it home from Fabric Town (Nippori) in Tokyo (for only about $7/meter!!)  I sneaked a little of that fabric as an accent when I made a Plantain Tee for myself, and she immediately recognized it as the fabric she wanted as a dress, although she liked the striped knit I used as well.  So now we will be twinsies ;)

I did minimize the bubble effect a little by only bubbling the front of the dress.  The back does not have a second layer--both to streamline it for Little Sister's tastes, and to conserve my nani IRO for the Ruby Top I plan to make out of the rest of it for myself!

I attached the floral in the front using the method Alida describes in her sundress tutorial, and I really like the effect.  Using the elastic thread makes it really easy, and the placement of the shirring allows the lining to tuck under nicely.  But instead of making the entire dress two layers, I cut the top layer so that I could add a giant kangaroo-style pocket in the front of the dress (another carrot to dangle for Little Sister, who loves wearing dresses with big pockets!).  At the end of the post I'll describe how I adapted the front of the dress.

Like I said, the back does not have the top layer--it's just a basic knit dress.  But with the important addition of elbow patches!  That was a request from Little Sister, who loved the elbow patches on my Plantain Tee.

I almost guessed right about where her elbows are located!
I'll have to get pics of us together at some point--I don't know if I'd be twins with her in public, but I do think it's kind of fun to have mother/daughter pieces.

Snapped a while back when I finished my shirt

I was excited to finish my dress last night, so we set out to take the pictures after school today, and Little Sister had a last-minute change of heart about being in the mood to be photographed.  She made me work hard to get anything resembling a happy child today, so I have to share the few pics I did manage to get!

Checking how the swing is attached to the bar

I will push your swing after you smile!

Why is Mom standing on a bench?

Let's try writing on the ground with this stick...

SO many of the pictures had this face!
 She was much more cheerful when we headed back to her school to pick her brother up after his club this afternoon.

At least the stick was a hit--she wanted to keep it!
The final version turned out pretty much as I had imagined--although when I looked back at my sketch, I remembered that when Little Sister had gotten her hands on it, she added a hair bow, so I guess I still have some work to do!

Joint effort
As far as putting this dress together, I pretty much just added the floral panel and bubble hem to the front piece of the dress then assembled the rest of it the way I would have put together any knit dress (or tee, for that matter).  Here's what I did:

First, I cut out the front and back panels from the knit.  I used a bodice pattern that I liked but cut it so that the pieces would be 20" wide at the bottom.  For the length, I used Alida's tutorial as a guideline. Her dress was about 19" long (the 20" piece gets folded over to make the casing) so I cut my dress to hang 18" from the armpit.

This fabric kind of makes me go cross-eyed if I stare at it for too long!

It's a super-soft knit, and I got it for 100 yen/meter (less than a buck!)
Then I used the front piece as a guide to cut out my floral panel.  I cut the same shape for the skirt, marked where the neckline should be, and eyeballed the curve. I even remembered to make it bigger than it would end up, since I'd be folding over the raw edge of the curve.

I did end up trimming it so it was the same length all the way across!
Next I pressed and hemmed the curves.  It was easy to do without puckering since the gauze has quite a bit of give and it was going around a bias, but if you were using a stiffer fabric you might want to finish the curves with bias tape.

Next I attached the floral panel to the front of the dress along the bottom hem.  This part made me stop and think, to make sure the floral was facing the right direction!  You want to sew them together with the RIGHT side of the floral laying on the WRONG side of the stripe.

Just like in Alida's tutorial, first I sewed the two fabrics together along the bottom.  Then I turned the floral to the front of the dress and pressed the bottom edge, and then I sewed two lines of shirring with elastic thread across the bottom of the knit stripe fabric (like in the tutorial).

But since I was only doing the front piece, my next steps were a little different.

I basted the floral to the front of the dress from the bottom of the pockets to the hem.  Then I topstiched the floral onto the dress from the top of the pocket (wherever I wanted that to be), up and around the neckline, and back down the other side.

Next I sewed the front and back of the dress together.  I wanted to do french seams on the sides to tuck away all of the gauze edges, so my assembly was a little wonkus.  I started with the dress body pieces WRONG sides together, sewed down the side seams, turned it inside out and pressed it, and finished off the french seams.  THEN I sewed the shoulder seams together, and attached the sleeves in the round instead of with the dress side seams open.

Of course there was the neckline binding and hemming the sleeves too, but who wants to read about that?  There are much more eloquent and easy-to-follow resources for those things if you need them.

Well, I'm excited to be kicking off another round of Project Run and Play, and I think it will be pretty interesting to have a month between new projects!  Hopefully I'll be able to participate in most of them!

Don't look so sad, Little Sister--you'll get a new dress next month!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Upcycled Holiday Dress!

I made Little Sister the sweetest holiday outfit to wear for her school Winter Concert!  She helped me choose the fabrics and style, she worked with me to make the fabric covered buttons, and it came out so cute!

This is not that dress.

The day after making that dress, I got a note in Little Sister's backpack that said that her class needed to wear RED for the winter concert.

So, out of the upcycling bin, I grabbed a knit top I bought a while back for 99 yen (less than a dollar), since it was the only red fabric I had on hand, and I whipped up a comfy little red dress.

Little Sister didn't want me to put the collar on it, so I'm saving that for another project.

I turned the shirt around to make the dress, since we both liked the little keyhole with a pearly button, but that left the scoop in the back of the dress.  It looked a little too low, so I added a bow:

And that's it!  Luckily she will have plenty of opportunity to wear the other dress I made during the next week.  I'll post photos of that once I have a chance to get some good pics!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Printable Doll Kimono Pattern and Tutorial!

I finally gathered enough nerve to go into the shop near my neighborhood where they alter and sell vintage kimonos and yukatas, and spit out some vocabulary words about cut fabric accompanied with mime ask about purchasing some fabric scraps from them.  Amazingly enough, I was successful, and now I have a bag of vintage kimono scraps to play with!

One way I KNEW I would use the scraps was by making doll clothes.  Little Sister's doll play has reached a stage where getting the dolls dressed (several times) is every bit as important as the make-believe that happens afterwards, and I am looking forward to building the doll wardrobes beyond the Disney princess costumes they all came in.  So since I had kimono scraps, what better to make than kimonos!

I figured that since a doll kimono is a fairly simple shape and construction that there would be a tutorial or pattern out there that I could follow, but there was actually surprisingly little that I could find online.  So cobbling together a few things I found, I created a printable pattern that I decided to share with you!

Now, I have never shared a printable before, so please give me feedback if this link doesn't work for you.  I made it all fit on one sheet, and I included a box for scale, so make sure that you print at 100% (I am using A4 paper instead of letter size, but A4 is bigger so as long as you use 100% scale everything should fit just fine!)

It will look like the pic below, and the link to the printable is in the caption!

Print the pattern here!
Ok, so on to the tutorial.  Here goes!  It's been a while since I've done a full tutorial so let me know if you've got any questions.

1.  Print your pattern and tape pieces together.  They should look like this:

2.  Lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric.  The kimono can be cut out of a piece of fabric as small as 7" by 30" (or 13" by 20", depending on how you cut your pieces out).  Here's how I laid mine out:

Note that the body pieces are NOT cut on the fold, they are two separate pieces.  And I cut out both sleeves at once by doubling the fabric over at one end and cutting both on the fold at once.
You will cut out two of the long body pieces as mirror images, and two sleeves, cut on the fold.  Your cut pieces will look like this:

Note--I rounded the neckline out in the final pattern so yours will look a tiny bit different.

3.  Lay the two body pieces right side together and sew the back bodice pieces together from hem to neckline, then press open.

Hmm, those pins are pretty hard to see.  If you squint, you'll see them on the bottom right edge of the fabric here, they go from neckline to back hem.
The back body of the kimono (wrong side, obviously)
4.  Fold the front body panels over to line up the hems, then press a sharp line at the shoulder.  Also press a nice line into your sleeves while you're at it.

5.  Lay the body panel out, right side up.  Take your first sleeve and lay it right side down on top of the body panel so that the pressed line on the sleeve matches up with the pressed line at the shoulder, and with the straight edge of the sleeve along the outside edge of the kimono body.

6.  Pin the pressed lines together, then pin 1.5 inches away from the center line on either side.  Sew the sleeve onto the body ONLY on these three inches in the middle. Then do the same with the other sleeve.

7.  Press the seam open where the sleeve joins the body, then press the rest of the straight edge of the sleeve over to match that seam allowance (so you should have 1/4 inch or so pressed over the full length of the sleeve).  Press the other edge of the sleeve (between the two curved corners) over as well as shown below.

8.  Sew the folded edge down that is closest to the body of the kimono--the straight edge where the sleeve is attached in the middle.  There will be an opening at the armpit like in a real kimono, so you want those open edges to be finished.

9.  On the outer edge of the sleeve (the one with curved corners), turn the middle 3 inches over a second time and hem in place.  This will be your wrist opening, so it needs to be finished.

Hem the area between the two pins (should roughly line up with the 3 inches sewn at the shoulder)
 10.  Now fold the sleeve in half, right sides together.  Sew together starting about an inch from where the sleeve joins the body of the kimono, around the bottom of the sleeve, and stopping at the finished wrist opening.

 11.  Now pin the side of the kimono with the finished sleeve.  Pin all the way from the armpit to the hem and sew closed.

I found it easiest to start sewing at the hem and end at the armpit.
 12.  Make sure you have completed all of these steps for both sleeves and sides of the kimono--it should look like this:

13.  Trim the corners on the sleeve seam allowances carefully, then turn the kimono right-side-out and press.

14.  Hem the bottom of the robe, like so:

15.  Now attach bias tape all the way around the opening, starting at the hem on one side and going all the way around.  I used single fold bias tape and folded it in half to get a thinner double-folded tape look.

16.  Once the bias tape is on, give it a final press and the kimono itself is done!

17.  Now you just need an obi/belt.  For mine, I just cut a piece of foldover elastic to 4.25 inches and sewed it together in the back.  It has to be pulled up over the doll's feet.  But you could also use a piece of ribbon and add velcro, or a snap. Also, real obi are very elaborate so you could have a lot of fun making a more authentic one!  But for my purposes the elastic worked very well.

Here are a couple of my earlier tries--I adapted the pattern several times along the way and am really happy with the way the final pattern came out.

Take 1

Take 2

I do have some sad news though-- I was making my 4th kimono, the thin fabric got caught in the machine and pulled the thing that catches the bobbin thread (hook timer? I can't remember) out of whack.  After watching a few youtube videos I was confident that I could fix it myself, but after removing every visible screw on my machine and still not being able to get the case off, I gave up and brought it to a sewing machine repair shop in Shinjuku, where thankfully the guy spoke enough English to understand my problem.  Well, that and he had eyes, and the problem is pretty obvious, so all was well.  But being without my machine for 3 days has been brutal!  I was on a roll with working on gifts, and now it's all on hold since I have a friend visiting (HOORAY!!!!  Picking her up in an hour!) and I know I'd rather hang out with her and show off Tokyo than sit in front of my sewing machine while she's here.  But I hate paying $85 to fix a 6-month-old machine that only cost $250 in the first place.  I don't even want to try to figure out the warrantee, since it's in Japanese and I don't want to send the machine out somewhere and get it back who-knows-when, but I am starting to think I should have invested in a better machine.  I didn't know how much sewing I would be doing when I picked out the one I have!  We'll see if this one ends up lasting me the rest of my time here, or if I end up upgrading after all!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Deer and Doe Plantain Tee

I made myself a tee from the free Plantain Tee pattern from Deer and Doe.  I'm so happy with how the prints came together!  It's such a cheerful top.

The yellow and white stripe was another one of my 100 yen/meter (about $1/yard) finds, and it's a nice one.  It's soft but not too stretchy.  My top maybe came out a tiny bit small, but only because of this fabric--if I was using a more typically stretchy knit I would make the same size again.  Oh, and also because of the fabric I used (I think), I had a little trouble with my neckline binding.  I cut it on the bias to get a little more stretch out of it, but it came out too wide and wouldn't lay flat.  So I folded it over to the outside and topstitched it down, which worked great!  I am actually very pleased with the final result on the neckline.

Whoo, stripe matching!

For the accent panels, I used bits and pieces of the Melody Miller Ruby Star Spring 2012 that I found for 380 yen/meter (less than $4/yard).  This fabric has a bunch of different prints incorporated into it, so it was fun to figure out which pieces I wanted to use.

It's on sale at for only $5.50/yard! Here's the link!

I cut up one strip that featured the floral and made that into the elbow patches and the shoulder panels (I added those; they are not part of the original pattern), and I used a different part to make the back yoke (also my addition to the pattern).

I have long arms, so my elbow patches ended up hitting just a bit high. When I tug the sleeves all the way down, my elbow barely hits the bottom of the patch.  So when I make this pattern again, I'll lower my elbow patches by about 2 inches I think.  I also added about 4 inches to the length, because I like long tops.  Partially because I have a long torso, but I also just feel more comfy in my skinny jeans if my top covers up a bit more!

To give a better idea of the length
I love the way the pattern looks with the woven fabric accents!  When adding in the wovens, it's definitely good to err on the side of caution in terms of size--the wovens won't stretch, so it's good to have a little extra room in there for the armpits and shoulders.  Next time, I will cut my woven back yoke a size or two larger than the size I am cutting for the t-shirt. I also made sure to leave a little extra seam allowance where I would be attaching the wovens.

The shape of this tee is great--it's fitted in the bust but has a slight a-line, so it feels comfy and casual without looking sloppy.   There are three sleeve options too--short, 3/4 (what I sewed), and long.  I definitely need more of these in my fall wardrobe!