Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skirt Refashion! (for a grown-up.)

My friend passed a skirt on to me that she never wore because of a funky fit, but she had held onto it because of this cool fabric.  I'm so glad she did!

Ooh!  Pretty!

This skirt started life as a mid-calf length skirt that flared out to a full circle at the hem.  Yikes! Not the most flattering cut.  I knew I wanted to make the skirt shorter, and narrower, and I also needed to take in the waist.  But the skirt had that great pop of color at the hem that I wanted to keep, so I couldn't just shorten it.


I decided to cut off the top and make it into a separate waistband.  The skirt had a hidden side zipper, which I wanted to reuse, but in order to make the waistband that I wanted I needed to shorten the zipper.  This was easy-peasy--I just hand-sewed some thread around the spot where I wanted the zipper to stop, then cut off the rest.  I actually pinned the spot before sewing and cutting to make sure I would still be able to get the skirt over my hips with the shorter zipper.

See the little cluster of thread wrapping around the zipper at the seam?  I did that!

For the bottom part of the skirt, I used a skirt I already had to figure out how wide I wanted the hemline to be. Then I measured my waistband to see how many inches I needed at the top.  Then I cut the skirt into pieces that would fit onto the waistband.  It was a little tricky to get the shape right because a circle skirt has a curved hemline if you're not using the whole circle--so I had to curve the waistband a bit too to pull up that center part of the hem.

Now, a skirt with pockets is about my favorite thing in the whole world.  But for some reason, I'm not a huge fan of patch-style pockets topstitched to a garment.  Of course, creating in-seam pockets is more difficult, and I'd never done it before, but I reverse-engineered the pockets on a skirt I love, and BAM!  I came up with these roomy pockets using the extra fabric cut out of the sides of the circle skirt.  There's probably a great tutorial out there on how to do this, so I won't try to walk you through what I did--I just guessed and worked it out.

I put that black fabric there to show you how big the pockets are in relation to the skirt.
 I used the pockets on my existing skirt as a template.

My pocket was made from leftover fabric from the bottom edge of the skirt,
hence the yellow trim peeking out!

After I got the pockets figured out and attached to the bottom part of the skirt, I put the right sides of the waistband and bottom part together, pinned them (it required some strategic tucking because they weren't exactly the same size) and sewed it all up.  I tried it on and had to do a little folding/topstitching in some places to get it to lay flat, but once I did that and ironed/trimmed everything, I was very happy with the way it turned out.

And YAAY!  Pockets on a skirt make me so happy!

Update:  I found several pocket tutorials online, but this one at naptime crafters seems like the closest to what I actually did.  Plus, I can't wait to try her skirt tutorial now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Infinity Scarf!

I had a package all ready to go to mail to my friend who lives on the East Coast.  She and her family had visited over the summer, and therefore they left a bunch of stuff behind--some important, some not.  So of course, I rushed right out to mail it all back...about three weeks after they went back home.  I realized as I was getting the package together that A.  I had some extra room and B.  Jill's birthday is about two weeks away and C.  I wanted to include a birthday present, but D.  I wanted to mail the package tomorrow, so E. the present had to be QUICK!  And MADE FROM THINGS THAT WERE ALREADY IN MY HOUSE!  Oh, and she's a crafty one too, so I had some ideas but they were things that she has probably already made for herself.

So, I quickly joined Pinterest so I could poke around on her page and see if there was anything that would inspire me to whip something up.  Nada (at least not that fit the criteria).  So I just started browsing, and I came across  this tutorial for repurposing a sweater into an infinity scarf.  I've been wanting to make an infinity scarf ever since I bought one for a friend last year at a craft show.  The one I bought was made out of soft jersey, like an upscale t-shirt fabric, then potato-stamped--totally great idea that I might copy one of these days.  Perfect!  And bonus that this happens to be a Portland blogger (even though I have no idea who this is).

First I dug through the hubby's closet, because I know he has tons of sweaters that he never wears any more.  But since he wasn't around to consult, I figured I'd better not cut any of his sweaters up just yet (next time!)

I found this old hoodie that I bought years ago even though it was way too big for me because I loved the print.  I wore it through my pregnancies but could no longer justify keeping it in my closet.

Pro for using it for this project:  it's a size XL, so there was plenty of fabric.  Con for using it:  the fabric is printed, which it didn't occur to me would cause problems until I was in the middle of piecing the scarf together.  So, the print doesn't match up on any of the bazillion seams in this thing.  Luckily, the pattern is somewhat subtle, so it kind of blends.

You can also wear it more snugly around your neck, leaving a bigger dangling loop.

The thing I love about this particular pattern is that there isn't a front and a back to the scarf--it's a big tube.  Is that typical for this type of scarf?  I guess that would make sense with the name "infinity" and all, but I thought that was just because it's a big loop.  The tutorial also mentioned using a different fabric for the front and back, which would look cool too I think.

The one thing that I couldn't figure out from this tutorial (or any of the other ones I looked at online while searching for this info) is approximately how long and wide your pieces should be.  I mean, obviously the size of pieces you can cut will depend on the garment you are repurposing, but some numbers just to get an idea would be nice!  So, here's what I ended up with.  My two pieces were each about 9 inches wide and 54 inches long.  I think that it works well.  I definitely wouldn't go any wider or longer for my taste.  I might go a bit narrower in the future, and I definitely wouldn't worry if I didn't have enough fabric to make it that big.

I can't wait to make one for myself out of this holey cashmere that I love!
Holey cashmere, Batman!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Today's post is about baking!  I love baking.  And I had a flat of blueberries to work with!  While my children would have happily sat down and eaten the berries by the handful (and believe me, they've been doing plenty of that), I wanted to take the opportunity to turn at least some of them into delightful baked goods.

Hands off!

I'll start with the blueberry-rhubarb crumble that inspired the title of this post, so you won't be kept in suspense.  Like most people, I usually only associate rhubarb with strawberries, but since I had a plethora of rhubarb, a glut of blueberries, and nary a strawberry, I decided that I would be the VERY FIRST PERSON EVER to combine rhubarb and blueberries.  Well, imagine my surprise when a simple google search turned up hundreds of blubarb recipes.  Well, not using that term.  But still.

In any case, I chose this crumble recipe, and since I had also made a blueberry pie I decided I wanted to serve this crumble over yogurt for breakfast.  What?  I cut the brown sugar in the topping in half to make it healthy*.
OK, so I actually cut the berries in half also, to make it more oatmeal-y.  Oatmeal = breakfast.
 I baked it in an 8x8 instead of a 9x13.

Verdict?  Yummy.  Will eat for breakfast AND dessert.
If you are making this for breakfast, I recommend making the crumble topping the night before, so that all you have to do is stir the fruit with some sugar and flour, then top it with the crumble and bake in the morning.  I stuck it in the oven as soon as I got up, and it was done an hour later.  Can you believe I planned ahead and did that?  I NEVER do that--I guess blubarb is inspirational.

Before making this crumble, I made a blueberry pie.  And it is wonderful.  And it is, as Sandra Lee would say, semi-homemade.  I want to be embarrassed to announce that I used a Trader Joe's pie crust, but you guys.  I have made lots of pie crusts in my time, and the TJ's crust is SO GOOD.  So good.  And while I don't even think that pie crust is actually that difficult, it is challenging to wrangle small kids and keep the dough at the optimal temperature, and then also OH MY GOD the cleanup, so I share with pride that I have started buying these frozen crusts and so far I'm not looking back.

I almost cried when I went to Trader Joe's on Baking Day and they were out of crusts.
I had to go back the next morning when they got more in, and I bought three of them.
I'm not messing around.
For the filling, I followed the recipe from my trusty Baking Illustrated, which I absolutely love.  I used the pulverized tapioca, since I didn't have any potato starch on hand, and I don't know if it's the recipe or my Pampered Chef stoneware pie plate, which I LOVE, but this pie comes out nicely set, even if you can't possibly wait the recommended minimum of four hours and cut into it after only three so that your patient child can have a slice before bedtime.

My slice.  The boy's was much smaller--I'm not sharing that much of my pie with a  three-year-old!
Up next:  blueberry freezer jam, blueberry banana bread, some amazing rhubarb custard bars, and probably more pie.  I love summer!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dress for MEEEE! (well, just an alteration, really.)

Lately I have been going through my closet looking for things I don't wear anymore that I can refashion into fun stuff for the kiddos.  HowEVER, I had some fun events to go to this year, and rather than chopping up some of my favorite old dresses that didn't quite fit right anymore or had out-of-date hemlines, I did some altering so that I could keep on using them.  I shortened one dress, took in the waistband on a couple, and shortened the straps on another, and then there was this one.  This one is my favorite, because in addition to solving a problem that kept me from wearing this dress (it was TOOOO short; I can't believe I wore it this way a couple of summers ago when it was new!), this alteration gives the dress a whole new look.  And I got to use up some extra scraps to do it, so I feel like I got a brand new dress for free.

Picture taken assuming I would crop out my head, however that looked weird.

Below is the SIL on our trip to NYC, pictured in front of the HUGE HEAD of my friend Louis, who we saw performing the role of Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine in the amazing Next to Normal. We actually went shopping together before this trip and BOTH bought this red dress, and of course, there are no pictures of me in it.  We resisted the temptation to wear it on the same day.

I'm about 4 inches taller than her--I can't believe she let me buy AND wear a dress this short!
This dress is made from a thin cotton.  The fabric is actually see through, but it has an extra layer underneath so you're not exposed.  All I did was measure the hem across the front of the dress, then cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric that were 4 inches tall and 27 inches wide (the hem measurement that I took).  I ironed them in half lengthwise, then pinned them to the inside of the dress, just at the hemline.  Since the trim fabric was dark and the dress fabric is somewhat sheer, I didn't want it to show through so I kept the new fabric hidden right behind the doubled-up fabric of the hem.  I sewed two lines--one right on the original hem seam, and another right where the bottom of the original dress met the added fabric.  I then topstitched a line about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the new trim, just to give it a finished look.

I thought it would be fun to tie in the new fabric by incorporating it at the waistline as well.  The dress had a detail at the waist already, so I just mimicked the shape in a new piece of fabric (just cut it a little bigger) then ironed all of the edges under and topstitched it directly to the dress.

Voila!  I don't have to be afraid to bend down!
Yay! Now if it only had pockets, it would be perfect. I go a little crazy for a dress with pockets. I just hope the weather stays warm long enough for me to wear this!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rag Dolls

I made these:

For them:

Icing gingerbread cookies at Christmastime
to take on their plane ride to far, far away for the next two years.  The Boy was so disappointed that he would not have a chance to show these ladies his new cartwheel skills in person, but he was somewhat mollified by a promise to show them via skype.  He is in love with these girls, despite the fact that they live(d?) in another state and we only saw each other every few months.  He has named two of his matchbox cars after them.

We are going to miss you!
Little Sister will mostly miss the dolls.

I guess I'm going to have to make her her own, huh?
I got the basic pattern here, but as per usual I did make a change--I added the hair using my machine, and I did it before I sewed the front and back halves together.  Let me see if I can explain more clearly what I did with the hair....hmmm, I can't.  Email me if you really want to know!  Also, I only used scraps (yarn, fabric, batting (well, repurposed from the inside of an old pillow), even embroidery thread!) to make these dolls, so they were FREE!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baby Backpack!

I wanted a quick project for a birthday present for a special two-year-old in our lives, and I found this little drawstring backpack that seemed perfect.  And in a lot of ways, it is.  For one, it used up some of the abundant extra fabric I had after making my Amy Butler Birdie Sling (see my last post about that one!).  For two, it's the perfect size for toddlers--Little Sister (16 months old) could carry it around no problem.  For three, our little buddy picked it up as soon as my son gave it to him, stuck his pink glitter ball inside it, and slung it on.  He wore it for most of his party.  That tells me it's a hit.  For four, it was super quick to sew up--not that it was a last-minute gift, of course, because obviously I plan that kind of thing months in advance, not the night before.

So if you go to make this backpack yourself, here's what I would change from the original directions (or what I WILL do, if I make it again):

1.  Add a couple of extra inches for the straps.  These seem aaaaalmost too short.

By the way, how awesome does this guy look for his camping theme b-day party?

2.  Use a trim/ribbon/cord that is a bit slippery or satiny for the straps.  I didn't have any trim that coordinated with my fabric, so I made long strips of the canvas-y type fabric I made the rest of the bag out of, and they don't want to slide through easily to tighten or loosen the drawstring.
I had to give Little Sister a chance to try it out too!

3.  On that note, I would maybe make the casing a bit bigger, depending on what I end up using for the straps.   Remember, two of the straps need to fit through the casing.

4.  I think it would be fun to play with adding a flap over the top.  Not totally necessary, but might help keep stuff in (especially if you can't get the drawstring to close, like on my bag!)

In case you were curious, I did indeed make the b-day crown too--here it is by itself.

Not as cute as when it's on Q's head!
I make these by custom order; check out my website over here if you're interested.  Happy birthday!