Friday, August 24, 2012

Easy T-Shirt Dress with Gathered Sleeve Detail!

I got the idea to make this dress by combining this adorable French Mariniere dress with this great gathered-sleeve dress.  It was so quick and easy, and you could make about a million variations--using printed t-shirts, adjusting the waistline to be empire, natural, or dropped, adjusting the width of the body or sleeves for different fits, using larger t-shirts for fuller skirts--it goes on and on!

I made two of them, and I did basically the same fit on each--pretty loose and slouchy with a slightly empire waist.  They are so comfy and easy, and will fit for quite a while with leggings underneath!

In both of these dresses, I used a size Youth Large t-shirt (both 100% cotton, bought at Dollar Tree!), and made a size 2T/3T dress.  There was hardly any waste, but the end result is such a different look than the original shirt!

For the overall shape, I followed this tutorial from Justine at Sew Country Chic, but left out the painted stripes and buttons, and added a step.

 I used a long-sleeved t-shirt that fits to give me an idea for my shape--

I knew I wanted it to be looser than this t-shirt, so it was just a guideline.  First I cut the bottom of the t-shirt off.  I didn't measure; I just cut where I thought I'd want the waistband to go.  Then I laid the template shirt on top and cut out the underarms of the bodice.

I made the sleeves and the bodice wider than my t-shirt template.

When I made the purple dress, I added gathers to the sleeves using the method described in this post from Craftiness Is Not Optional--which is basically to sew a length of elastic to the inside of the sleeve to create the gathers.  It is important to attach the elastic BEFORE you sew the side seams, because you won't be able to get the sewing machine inside your little sleeve once it's closed up.

I learned that the hard way when I made the white dress.  I was going quickly and not really thinking about it.

All was not lost...I just opened the sleeve up and added the elastic, then sewed it back together.

I don't know what I'd do without this thing.
When you gather the skirt, make it a little wider than the bottom of your bodice, then stretch the bodice as you attach the skirt.  That way you'll have some stretch in the dress and you'll be less likely to tear your stitches.

Um, not like what is shown here.
Make sure the gathers are spread evenly when you attach your bodice to the skirt.  You turn the bodice right-side out and slip it inside the wrong-side-out skirt and pin the raw edges together.  Really, you should just read the tutorial I linked to for a complete explanation.  I figure there's no need to reinvent the wheel here, right?

Oh, I added one more step to the tutorial I linked to above--I did a row of topstitching on the bodice of the dress, just above where the skirt is joined.  I like to do that to stabilize the gathers and I also just like the way it looks.

You wanted to see what the back looks like, right?

I made the balloon dress first.  It started out as a plain purple dress (Little Sister saw the purple t-shirt at the Dollar Tree and had to have it, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to try out this dress).  When she saw it as a dress, she asked me if she could have a picture on it, and I was happy to oblige.

This is how Little Sister usually feels about posing for me.
Until I start throwing raspberries at her.

With the white dress, it didn't end here either...

As you know, we went to Holden Village this summer for our vacation. Our friends had been the year before, and let us know that one of the kids' favorite activities had been Tie-Dye Tuesday.

Here is Little Sister's result:

Don't worry, the rest of the fam got in on it too:

The Boy's pose is cracking me up here--what is this, Glamour Shots circa 1992?

But really, it's a look best sported by the kiddos.

MAN what a cute group!

The kids loved doing the tie-dye so much, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some more tie-dye projects popping up on here.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Mug!

Once upon a time, I went with my family to a quaint old mining village turned Lutheran family camp up in the mountains above Lake Chelan.  I only mention it because at Holden Village, they have a pottery studio.  And on that trip with my family, I made a mug in that pottery studio.  However, our trip came to an end before my mug had been fired.  Luckily, I had made a few friends while we were there, and I left some money with one of them and asked her to mail my mug to me when it was finished.  Well, I never saw that mug again, and I have always wondered how it turned out--I'm sure it was the mug to end all mugs.

Fast forward 15 years--this time it's me bringing my little family to Holden Village (hence the car trip that inspired me to make these little guys).  And there were lots of wonderful things that we did while we were there, but you can bet that when that pottery sign up sheet was posted, my name was on that list.  I had a mug that had been 15 years in the making that I WOULD be bringing home with me this time.

No pottery wheels were involved this time, just handbuilding, which was plenty challenging for me.  

I was pretty proud of the final result:

That chevron pattern was made by rolling a piece of rebar on the clay!

I used a leaf stamp to fancy up the handle.

I even stamped the inside--and the bottom has the date on it.

Until I got it home and had my first cup of coffee in it.  And it dribbled coffee on my shirt.

If there is coffee dribbling on my shirt, it should be because children are bumping into me, not because I am drinking from a defective mug.

You can even see in the last picture that my glazing was not as complete as it should have been in the bottom edges of the mug.  Um, obviously, since it leaks.  Hey, it was hard to get inside those corners!  Both for joining the clay and painting the glaze, apparently.  

At least this time the mug made it home with me--that's a step in the right direction.  Maybe 15 years from now I can go back and make a mug that doesn't leak.  

My potter friend told me to buy this stuff and only apply it on the outside of the mug.

The all-caps "CAUTION" has me worried.
I have the glue, but I'm nervous that it will poison me.  

Does anybody know if there are any other ways to fix a leaky glazed pottery mug?  Or if this glue is perfectly safe and I should just fix it and start drinking my coffee out of my glorious mug already?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Travel Coloring Wallet Tutorial

I'm not going to go on and on about how behind I am on blogging.  I'm not.

So ANYWAY, here's something I made to bring on our vacation this summer.  I also made one as a birthday gift.  I was inspired by the one I saw in this blog post (via pinterest).  I will be making more of them, because they were a huge hit with the kids and they are also awesome just for tucking in my purse when we are going out to dinner or whatever.  Here it is:

I used some of my old jeans with holes in the knees for the exterior, to make them sort of sturdy.  That makes them probably the most expensive fabric scraps in my collection.

I started by cutting out my fabrics--one exterior, one interior.  You need to have your materials that you will be putting inside in order to figure out how big to cut your fabric--namely, the notepad and the coloring implements.  I chose crayons because I didn't want to deal with dropped marker caps in the car, or things that would dry out or need to be sharpened, but you could definitely use markers or colored pencils in here.

I got a little notepad from Dollar Tree that was bound at the top (NOT spiral) and had lots of pages--I think 100.  I will probably get a few extra so I know I have backup that will fit in here, now that I know how successful it is.  I also got a bunch of stickers (also Dollar Tree), and at the last minute I found sheets of stencils at Dollar Tree too that I could cut up so that they fit in the pocket with the stickers.  The stencils have gotten more use than I expected, even with my two-year-old, who can't really use them properly.

So I laid out my materials in order to figure out how big to cut my fabric.  As you can see in the first picture at the top of the page, the pocket for the crayons goes the other direction from the pocket for the notebook and stickers, so my fabric needed to be cut in this weird shape.  You'll also probably notice that it's not exactly right angles--that's because I was following the seams in the denim, which is not cut in straight lines, so I was fudging it a little.  You can make it nice and square if you're not using old jeans for the exterior.

So here's the basic idea to figure out your measurements.  You can cut it a little differently depending on how tall you want your pockets to be, how much of your crayon you want sticking out of the pocket, etc, but this was pretty much how I figured it.

With the right sides together, sew around the outside.  Leave a section open for turning inside out:  I would leave the hole about 1/3 of the way down on the left side pictured below, so that you have a nice place to hide your velcro tab raw edges later.

Which brings us to the velcro tab:

I cut a little strip of the lining fabric, about 1.5 inches by 3 inches, and sewed a little piece of velcro to one end.

Then I folded it in half, right sides together, and sewed around three sides, leaving the bottom open.  I guess you could just sew the two sides together, since the end is a fold.  Up to you!

Turn it inside out (and poke the corners out, unlike in my picture below!)

Now turn the main body of the wallet right side out, and press flat.

Fold up the section that will create the pockets for the notebook and the stickers.  Tuck your velcro tab inside the hole you used to turn the body right side out, then pin the pocket and tab in place and sew the outer edges of the pocket down. 

Place your notebook all the way to the right in the pocket you've created, then pin it SNUGLY in place on the other edge.  You want it to be in there tight--even a tiny bit TOO small is good because you can wiggle/wedge it in, and it won't slip out while it's in use.  I sewed just a tidbit to the right of where I had pinned to make sure it was snug.

Now somehow, I managed to miss taking pictures of the crayon portion of this program.  It's very simple--you just fold that long piece that's sticking out on the left over as far as you want (a little more than half the length of the crayon worked well for me), sew the edges down, then make little channels for the crayons.  But that is a little tricky--make sure your openings are big enough for your crayons!  They had to be bigger than I expected for the kids to be able to get them in and out easily.  I sewed lines 3/4 inch apart to fit regular crayons, and 1 and 1/8 inches for the thick toddler crayons when I made another one of these for my daughter.  I actually didn't measure these until after the fact (just now, as a matter of fact)--I just eyeballed it, but the first time I made them too narrow and had to rip them out and do it again.  So I hope the measurements are helpful!

Finally, figure out the exterior velcro placement.  I put all of the stuff in mine first--the notepad, crayons, etc, to see how big it would be when it was full.  Then I pinned my velcro on (it should fall inbetween the notepad pocket and the crayon pockets) and sewed it down (taking all of the stuff out first, of course).

Ta Da!  

The Boy wasted no time getting started with his crayon wallet--he pulled it out within the first 5 minutes of our 5 hour car ride for this summer's family vacation!

And here is Little Sister's coloring wallet, still in action on the last leg of our journey--the 45-minute ride straight uphill on a school bus (well, not STRAIGHT uphill, there were a bunch of switchbacks!).  Her favorite part was definitely the stickers, but as you can see the crayons got some action as well.

This is so compact, which makes it great for stuffing in your purse, but also it doesn't take up much room when it's in use, so it works at a restaurant table, on an airplane, in a get the idea.  I was really happy with the way they turned out and definitely excited to see that the kids liked them as much as I did--and that they are totally functional.  Go me!

Also--I was kind of winging it here (as usual), so if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!  Your measurements will mostly depend on what kind of notebook you buy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mom Skirts!

I have been on such a skirt kick lately!  And every time I wear a skirt without pockets, it drives me crazy all day.  Can't... stand... to... put... my... phone... down... where... is... my... chapstick... what... did... I... do... with... my... keys... this is my internal monologue any time my outfit is devoid of pockets.  Soooo, I have finally started making some of the great skirts that have been in my Pinterest "grown-up projects" folder for ages, and I love them!  I think of these as my "mom skirts" because they are comfortable, forgiving of the tummy, and most importantly, they have POCKETS!

The first skirt pictured, the olive green one, is The Milkmaid Skirt from Crafterhours.  I decided to make it out of this lightweight olive green stretch denim when I realized that the 24" long remnant that I bought was too short to make a pair of pants for the boy, which was the plan when I bought it.  (NO, I could NOT have made him a pair of shorts instead! Lalalalala I can't hear you.)  Luckily the fabric was 58 inches wide, so I just barely had enough to make the skirt--I had to fudge on the waistband seam allowance a little, and I had to use a contrast fabric for the pocket lining (that doesn't show), and instead of a hem I had to use bias tape so it didn't end up as a mini-skirt.

I just gotta put my hand in there!

I had a package of pre-made coordinating bias tape that I had picked up on clearance ages ago, luckily.  I didn't do the bias trim on my pockets the way she describes in the tutorial--as a matter of fact, I did mine according to her Milkmaid skirt for little girls instead, using the same pre-made bias tape as I used on the hem :).  By the way, one 3-yard pack of bias tape was plenty for the pockets and hem, with a little left over (maybe 1/2 yard?)  My skirt ended up being kind of a hybrid of the two, but I think the subtle fabrics made it look grown-up enough for me.

I pulled out the pocket so you could see the contrast lining;
also a close-up view of the bias trim on the pocket.
Oh!  I almost forgot!  In the tutorial she says she made her pockets about 5"x7".  That looked too small to me, so I made mine 5x9.  Now that I'm wearing it (that's right, I am wearing it at this moment), I think I could have even gone a little deeper--maybe 5x10.

The skirt in the middle is my favorite.  This one was an upcycle of this plus-size sundress I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet, where you buy clothes by the pound.

Another item originally purchased with a kid project in mind--
I must be getting selfish!
It's also the Milkmaid skirt--how appropriate, for this white eyelet fabric, don't you think?  I made this one the day after I made the olive green one, while it was fresh in my mind.  The green one came out a little bigger than I wanted (it still fits fine, thanks to the elastic waist), so I adjusted accordingly for the white one and I'm very happy with it.  The directions for this skirt are so simple that I didn't even have to refer back to the tutorial when I made it the second time around.  It's really very intuitive.

Also, this one has a lining.  I wish I could describe to you how I did the lining, but I just totally made it up as I went, and it came out ok--but while we're on the subject, hey, does anyone know how to make a skirt with pockets AND a lining?  LMK!   This was another one where I was just scraping by to have enough fabric, but luckily I was using the existing hem so the length worked out!  The hidden pocket linings are made from scraps of some white fabric I had laying around though.

Close-up of the pocket.

One of my favorite elements on this one is the visible pocket lining.  I used the extra eyelet trim from the yoke of the dress so that it would peek out from the pocket.  I thought it would also be nice to have an extra place for crumbs and lint to gather, so there's that, too.  Speaking of crumbs and such, we will have to see how wearing this skirt around the wee ones will work out.  Today I have already cleaned yogurt, barbecue sauce, and nutella off of my olive green skirt (should have taken my pictures first thing this morning, I guess), so I will be taking a real risk to wear something white.  We shall see, I suppose.

Finally, the patterned skirt is actually the first of the three that I made.  I originally found this design from Naptime Crafters when I was trying to figure out how to add pockets to this skirt, and was really excited to make the whole thing someday.  I The tutorial is easy to follow and fairly simple to execute--I recommend it.  If you look closely, there is a pineapple in the print, so it is only fitting that I debuted it at a night out for karaoke at a tiki bar (at which I was the ONLY person in our group of SIX to actually sing!  At the microphone, that is.  They were all more than willing to belt it out at the table.) I like this one because it DOESN'T have an elastic waist, so that's something different--it has button closures, so I have still put off learning how to put in a zipper.

This fabric was another remnant that I picked up.  It's a rayon, which is not a fabric I'm used to working with.  It's great for a skirt because it's soft, washable, and has a really nice drape and is lightweight without being sheer.  This print is a little crazy for me!  But it caught my eye, and it is nice to have something lively to pair with my black or white tops.  The rayon did stretch after wearing it for a while, so I had to move the buttons over.  Luckily that's pretty easy to do with this skirt.

Look at me, tucking in my shirts like a proper grown-up.
However, when I make another skirt like this, I will make BIGGER POCKETS.  She mentions in the tutorial that the pockets are great for carrying around a chapstick, but she doesn't say that a chapstick is literally all that you can fit in there.  See the way my hand is sticking almost all the way out of my pocket?  That's as far as I can put it in there, for real.  So, bigger pockets and this skirt would be a real winner.

So I officially have a new mom uniform!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catching Up...kiddo flip flops and another baby dress!

Hi!  We've been on vacation to a place with no internet or phone, and it's taking me a while to get reacclamated to blogging.  Well, actually, that's an excuse--I'm just still on vacation mode and haven't been motivated to catch up on all of the projects I have piled up to blog about.  Seriously, I had to start keeping a list of projects I haven't yet blogged so that I don't forget about them!  Part of the problem is that I have several projects that are related, so each blog post will feature multiple projects, and I'm letting myself get overwhelmed.  Plus I'd rather just keep creating stuff in my free time instead of writing about it right now!

So anyway, all this to say that rather than allow my blog to languish here any further, I will post a couple of pictures for projects that don't require much explanation, since I've done similar projects before.  Both of these are super quick to make!

First up:  A sundress for our friend Baby Emma's first birthday.  This is my new favorite kind of sundress to make.  I actually have another one half-done for Little Sister as well.  I did a yellow and gray one of these here--the basic idea is this:  Take an old tank top (I suppose you could use a t-shirt as well, but something about the proportion of it looks better as a tank dress to me), cut off a few inches at the bottom, cut out a rectangle of fabric the width of the bolt, sew it into a tube, hem, and gather, then attach the two together.  So simple and cute!  On this one I added an apple applique to cover a glittery butterfly that was on the original tank.

Next, a pair of fabric flip-flops for Little Sister.  This girl loves flip flops, so I ordered her a pair for cheap.  I wasn't even planning on altering them, but the rubber straps were too tight, so I cut them up and made Little Sister a pair just like mommy's (click here for more info on how to do it!).  Except that I reattached the elastic backstrap that came on the original rubber flip flops. Perfect!

Oops, hard to see the backstrap there.
There they are.
Another change that I made from the grown-up version is that I used foldover elastic (the same soft, stretchy stuff I use for my headbands) to go between the toes instead of fabric.  This is nice because it's much thinner and therefore easier to shove into the hole in the sole of the flip flop, but be careful because it's soooo stretchy--you have to keep the loop really small or else your flip flops will be too loose.  And you'll definitely want to squirt some hot glue on the underside so the knot doesn't come undone or pull all the way through the hole in the sole.

There.  Now I feel better.  And maybe more inspired to get to posting some of my other stuff!