Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ready to (wedding) Party!

Next weekend, we are on our way to our beloved Auntie Megan's (my husband's sister's) wedding!  I just finished the kids' outfits--they will be the flower girl and ring bearer (or as close to those two roles as this tiny wedding will have).  I got to show some of my fabric stash to Megan and get her input as to what I should use, then make whatever I wanted for them to wear.  So fun!

This project does have me a little behind on my Project Run and Play signature style theme outfit.  I'll probably end up linking this up, even though it's not really MY signature style--it should work because a long shimmering golden dress trimmed with lace definitely fits into Little Sister's signature style.  She dances around in this dress, calling herself a Golden Fairy Princess--she doesn't want to take it off!  But I can claim it too, because I really spent a long time figuring out exactly how I wanted these looks to come together.

The wedding is casual and outdoors at a gorgeous national park.  All the ladies (including the bride) are wearing boots--a perfect excuse to buy a new pair for myself!  The fabric is fairly fancy--did I mention the shimmering golden aspect?  So how to make a dress that fits the casual outdoor be-booted style as well as looks good in the fancier fabric?

I decided on following Craftiness Is Not Optional's sewalong/tutorial for the Leah Dress/Tunic.

I can't help but think of this as the Paper Bag Princess dress.
I used the back side of the shimmery gold fabric, which resembles a tan linen, for contrast and earthiness in the bodice and a band at the hem, which I angled down at the side seams.  (Side note--I had Little Sister try it on before I added the hem to figure out length, and she did not want me to cut off ANY!  I had planned to make this a shorter dress, but as usual her passion for the long-long dress won out.  See whose signature style this is?) I used crocheted cotton off-white lace for trim, to add to the bohemian look.

I MADE bias tape.  I never do that.
 And I finished off the look with a raw-edge rolled fabric flower headband. I saw this visual on Pinterest which showed me how to make these flowers.

Little Sister's preferred way to wear a headband.
I used an antique button from the hubby's (and hence the bride's) grandma's button stash for the closure.

Oh, and the thing that really makes this dress a signature style for me--this fabric was $1 a yard, the crocheted lace trim was $1 for a 3 yard roll, the button was free, and the pattern was a free tutorial.  Total cost of this dress was about $1.00.  Bargain city!

This was not necessarily the best photo of the back of the dress, but I couldn't resist including it.  Love her expression!

I decided to make a coordinating vest for the boy out of the leftover fabric. I wanted to make him a bow tie but he was not interested in that at all.

He already had some pants that would work, and I picked up a white button-down at Old Navy (I went with the snap-front style so it would be a little more casual), but I wanted to make him something to tie his outfit together with Little Sister's.  I used this printable pattern and tutorial from Fresh Off The Bolt for his reversible vest, although I left out the piping since I didn't have any on hand that coordinated, instead using the backside of the gold fabric again for contrast on the outside edge of the vest. I sized the pattern up a bit, since my boy usually wears a size 6 and the pattern is for a small size 5. I liked this rounded-edge, button-free vest both for how easy it was to make, since it had no closures, and the fact that it's reversible.  I don't see a ton of future use for a golden vest, but the reverse might come in handy.

I used the back side of the gold fabric for the back of the vest as well.  I felt like too much gold took the vest into Vegas magician territory, so I wanted to tone it down a bit.

I didn't have enough of the gold to make the lining, so I used an old sheet. I decided to use single-fold bias tape on the armholes (turned towards the lining side) rather than topstitching the armholes closed as the tutorial instructs.  I hate ironing so much, you guys.  Store bought bias tape was easier for me.

The old-sheet-and-bias-tape side

Reverse side for a more casual look
My kiddos have been so helpful this month with posing for pictures for all of the Project Run and Play themes!  They are so funny together, I just have to post some of these.

Um, should we take a potty break? No? Ok then...
 They came up with these poses on their own--I was dying, because they are seriously one glittery backdrop away from a prom picture here, am I right?

So now I have three days to figure out shoes for them to wear, and we're off to Wedding Party!

Edited--here they are in action at the wedding!  It was supposed to be in Yosemite National Park, but due to the government shutdown that went into effect four days before the wedding, we had some last-minute scrambling to do!  The venue was Evergreen Lodge, a lovely place right outside of the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite.

Leading the procession down the aisle

Watching the bride come in with the pastor and their new uncle

With their beautiful auntie


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mad for Plaid: My $0 Upcycled Outfit!

I wasn't sure if I was going to participate in Project Run and Play this week--inspiration for the "Mad for Plaid" theme was slow to strike.  But when I was digging through my pile of clothes for upcycling, looking for a sweater to use in the Signature Look challenge next week, I found an old pair of denim capris and a snuggly thrifted vest, and my Mad for Plaid look was born!

I really wanted to go to the pumpkin patch for a photo shoot with this outfit, but since I was cutting it so close timewise (I finished this outfit on Tuesday afternoon), I barely had time to get the outfit photographed and blogged before the Thursday deadline, so we just went with an apple and a hedge around the corner instead of a field trip.

Right this way!
First, the vest--I found this years ago at the Goodwill Outlet store and bought it, planning to make it into a pair of snuggly slippers.  But it turns out, my boy refuses to wear slippers.  He thinks he wants them, but when he actually has some he will never put them on.   So the vest just laid in wait.  It was originally a handmade item, which I think is so cool.  Whoever made it in the first place did a great job!  It's lined with snuggly sheepskin-style fleece, and the plaid outer part is woven wool.  I used my MADE basic tee pattern to estimate the size, cut it down, and sew it back together.  I pulled the lining and exterior apart and sewed them back together separately so the seams would be nicely finished.  BUT, when The Boy got home from school and put it on, it was too small!  I cut the shoulder seams and used scraps to make the shoulder extensions, deciding to flip the fabric around so that the fleece was on the outside for contrast.

The jeans were a little trickier.  I made a pair of jeans for the boy out of an old pair of my pants once before, and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out, except that the side seams were SO thick where I sewed the waistband together.  I discovered a better way this time, which I will describe below.  But the fit was kind of strange in the top--because of pocket placement, I couldn't cut the top of the original pants quite as small as I needed to, so while the legs fit, the fly/pocket area was strangely baggy.  I came up with a funky way to counteract that problem, and I am SO happy with the result!

I unpicked the waistband in between the fly and the pocket on both sides in the front and made a diagonal tuck in the denim to pull in the loose parts.  I accented with the same plaid flannel (upcycled from an old bathrobe of my dad's) that I used for the cuffs, using it like a piping.  I think the diagonal detail is cool looking, I was able to preserve the original pockets, and the jeans fit great now!  Upcycling is such a crapshoot sometimes--for every step you save (not having to make a zip fly), you have to invent three other steps to, as Tim Gunn would say, make it work.

Having edible props makes the shoot go SO much more smoothly!

My assistant keeping my model happy

OK, now for the tutorial on the jeans.  Feel free to skip this part!  Here's how to size down a pair of ladies jeans.

There are a few things that will make this easier.  First of all, you can't make toddler jeans out of ladies pants.  At least not if you want to have pockets.  These ended up being about a size 5/6 slim, made out of a women's size 8, and that was pushing it.  Starting with smaller women's pants or ending with larger kids pants is helpful.

Secondly, if the original pants are super low-rise, you might be able to just take in the side seams.  On mine, I had to lower the rise so that the pants didn't go past the kiddo's bellybutton, but the last pair I did had a low rise so I kept that part as is.

Thirdly, you will want to use a sturdy needle made for jeans.  And you'll want to have some backup needles.  This stuff is THICK, and you will sometimes be sewing through many layers of it.  Although miraculously, for the first time ever when upcycling denim, I DIDN'T break a needle.  Go me!

Finally, keep in mind that every upcycle is different.  Chances are, you aren't working with the exact same pair of jeans I started with, and even if you were, your kid is probably shaped differently.  There is a lot of guess work in upcycling.  Don't be too concerned with perfection!

Ready to start?

Starting point
 You'll want to have a pair of pants that fit your child handy as a reference.  This is how mine lined up to the original.

Because I needed to lower the rise, my first step was cutting the jeans in two, front to back.

I marked with pins (tiny yellow ones--can you see them?) where I wanted my waistband to end up, using the kid's jeans as a guide.  You could also work with a pants pattern, if you have one, but for upcycling I often just estimate with existing clothes since I'm trying to keep some of the original seams in place and it can be tricky to figure out how to use the pattern pieces exactly.

Once I knew how big I wanted the front waistband to end up, I used a seam ripper (the upcycler's best friend!) to unpick the waistband from the sides.  Keep going to about 1/2 inch beyond where you want the waistband to end up.

Keep unpicking about another 1/2 inch beyond this point!

Once you've got the waistband opened up on the sides, lay out your kid's jeans on top of the adult jeans and cut out your shape.  I like to cut out one side, then fold in half to match up the other side and cut.  If you are going to make the visible cuff, add extra length to the bottom.

Make sure you tuck the interior pockets out of the way when cutting so you con't snip off the bottom of one of them like I did.

Front, all cut out.
 Do the same for the back--unpick the sides of the waistband, then cut out the jeans to the size you want.  Once both are cut out, then line up the waistband on one of the sides.  Unfold and pin, right sides together, so that the outer waistbands from the front and back are lined up as well as the inner waistbands.  If it's too hard to unfold and line them up, you might want to unpick the waistband a little further to give you more maneuverability.

God, these pictures are so unhelpful, and it's hard to describe what I mean.  Maybe this will help.  You are joining the waistband back together so that the seams will be hidden inside the waistband.  It's kind of like sewing a neck binding together on a t-shirt, where you unfold the ironed binding strip and sew them together to close up the loop.  It's just harder to do on a pair of jeans, because the fabric is so much thicker and stiffer, and there are existing seams to deal with.

Maybe seeing what it should look like when it's done will help--this photo came out better.

conjoined jeans
 You'll do the same on the other side as well, so the waistband is closed up all the way around.

Side seams are still open.

Once the waistband is intact, turn the jeans inside out and sew up the outer side seams.  Start with a straight stitch, going slowly over the pockets since those existing seams are thick.  Be especially careful if your jeans have any rivets.  Reinforce the seam with a zig-zag.

If you are going to attach the flannel cuffs, it might be easier if you do it now, before you sew up the inseam.  I didn't do it that way and I wish I had.  You can skip down to the part about the cuffs to see what to do here.

Once your side seams are sewn, make sure the top of your side seam is tucked into the waistband, then topstitch the waistband down where you unpicked it.  You may need to do a separate seam to topstitch the inside of your waistband, because it can be hard to get them to line up exactly.

I had to cut off a little of the back pockets for width.

Almost done!  If you're not attaching the flannel cuffs, you can hem the pants now!

For comparison

Not a lot left over!
 Originally I thought I might line the jeans entirely with flannel.  But then I thought about how the point of upcycling the jeans was to reuse the fly, pockets, and waistband, and adding a lining would mess with all that.  So I decided to just add cuffs to mimic the look of lined pants and add some plaid (since that was the theme, after all!)  I cut out two pieces of plaid flannel a smidge wider than my pants, and 4 " tall.

Iron one long end of the flannel over to the wrong side.  If you are adding the cuffs before you sew the inseam, don't sew the cuff into a loop as pictured.  If you're adding once the pants are done, then fold the cuff right sides together and sew into a loop.

With the jeans right-side out, slip the cuffs onto the bottom of the pant legs, right sides together and with the ironed edge pointing towards the top of the jeans.  Line up the raw edges of the flannel and the jeans and sew around.

Turn the jeans wrong-side out and fold the cuffs to the inside of the legs and press.

Using thread that matches your denim in the bobbin, sew the ironed edge of the flannel cuff down.  You will see a seam on the outside of your jeans.

My seam would have been more hidden if I'd had matching bobbin thread!
 Now you can roll up those flannel cuffs!


Now, I would have stopped there if the jeans fit.  I don't really have a tutorial for this part, but this is how I added tucks to pull the top part of the jeans in tighter without affecting the legs.  I unpicked the waistband, folded the jeans with the strip of accent fabric and pinned in a diagonal, matching as best I could.

This would have been so much easier to do before the side seams were sewn, but I would have had no idea how much to take in.  So it had to be an after-the-fact alteration.  It was a squeeze to get my machine all the way to the bottom of the seam, but I managed it.

I also cut the waistband on both sides of the zipper and sewed it back together, just like I did on the sides of the jeans, but it was a much tighter fit since I had to squeeze inbetween the zipper and the pocket.  In hindsight, it would have been perfect to remove the belt loops and reposition them to hide my seam.

But it worked out in the end!
And PHEW!  That's the end!  Just a reminder to hop over to Project Run and Play to vote for this week's Mad for Plaid competitors and check out all the great sewalong submissions (like mine!)

Update--this was my winning look for the Mad for Plaid Sewalong!  I can't believe it!  SO flattering--and I'm so glad I pulled it together to submit!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Break me of a piece of that...Candy-Theme T-Shirt!

When I think of candy, it has to be chocolate.  Well, it's not like I'd turn down any other candy, but still, chocolate is my preference.  So when I started thinking about this week's Project Run & Play theme, Candy, my mind went immediately to those fun-size Halloween bars.  And I got a visual for my project this week--layers of wafer wrapped in chocolate, with a red wrapper.  A Kit-Kat bar!

Since my daughter got my project from last week's theme, I knew I wanted to do something for my son, who just started kindergarten this week.  And having recently assessed his drawers, I found that the hole in his wardrobe currently is long-sleeved tees.  So between one of my old brown long-sleeved tees, a knit striped romper The Boy himself wore as a baby, and a little bit of red knit from a shirt that has been snipped into lots of different projects, I was able to make a cool, functional shirt that is just sweet enough to fit the candy theme.

When I started cutting my pattern pieces, I was surprised to learn that a women's size medium fitted tee is almost exactly the same width as a size 6 boys tee, in both the body and the sleeves.  Which was nice--saved me sewing some side seams!  I used the original hem on the body as well.  I started out using the original hem on the sleeves too, but they came out a little long and a little loose, so I ended up cutting off the original hems to add the red cuff, which I really like.  They're more fitted than the sleeve, so they keep the sleeves off his hands even though they are still long to allow for growth.

The obligatory jumping shot
Speaking of the sleeves, this was where I wanted to give that "kit-kat" look by layering in some striped fabric to represent the wafer layers with chocolate around it.  I hadn't quite decided on the placement of the stripes until I had the sleeves cut--then I thought it would be fun to make them asymmetrical.

Another accidental design element is the back.  When I cut out my pattern pieces (I started with the MADE basic tee but sized it up a bit), I cut front and back together and cut both pieces with the higher "back" neckline so I could lower the front one later.  Then not 10 seconds later, I went ahead and cut BOTH down to the front neckline!  D'oh!  Oh well--I re-cut the back pattern piece just for the top of the shirt out of my "wafer layer" striped accent fabric, and I think it was a perfect place to incorporate a little more of that stripe.

Oops--got a little overexposed so you can't see the stripes, but they're there.
I also cut out four strips of the striped fabric in slightly different lengths to make the raw-edge applique on the front of the shirt.  I wanted a nod to the kit-kat bar's four pieces while still looking like a cool design for a t-shirt.  I'm happy with it!  And the final kit-kat inspiration was using the red for the bindings, since kit-kat bars come in a red wrapper.

I topstitched around the neckline using a double needle to keep some stretch in there, and I love how professional that finish looks.  I even got brave and did contrast stitching (verrrrry verrrry slowly so I didn't mess it up).

Contrast topstitching

I had to go for the built-in bribery factor for photographing a candy themed shirt.  How better to get the kiddo to pose nicely for me than to bring an edible prop to the photo shoot?


Of course, that meant I had to bribe a certain someone else to stay OUT of most of the photos...

But she was a good sport, and I ended up snapping a few fun ones of both kids together as long as we were in front of this cool painted wall!

All in all, I'm so happy because this is an awesome fall shirt that I would never have thought of without the inspiration from Project Run & Play.  Thanks guys!  Be sure to click over to see what everyone else is linking up in the sewalong, and here to vote for this round's competitors--they are so amazing!