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!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Upcycling Challenge!

I really thought I was going to have to sit this week of Project Run and Play out, and I was reeeealllly disappointed, because the theme was Handmedowns (or using old clothes to make something new), and that is what I LOVE to do!  But my piles of clothes saved for upcycling...those did not make the cut for packing across the ocean when we moved to Japan.  And we've only been here four months, so the kids haven't started growing out of the things we brought yet (for the most part).  So I thought that with the limited items available for cutting up, I wasn't going to be able to make anything that either of my kids would actually want to wear.

But I just kept thinking about it!  I did NOT want to miss this week's sewalong! (You can see my Totoro submission from last week's '80s cartoon theme here.)  But I also didn't want to spend time making something that wouldn't get used.  And then...I spotted it.  While helping Little Sister choose her clothes for the next day, I was yet again urging her to choose a dress in her closet that I love, and that she NEVER wants to wear.  It's nothing special, just a sundress I got on clearance at Old Navy, but I have always loved the print and the trim and she has never given it the time of day.  But she does ask me almost every day when choosing clothes for school if she has any skirts with pockets.  And I sadly keep telling her that she doesn't.  BUT!  What if I could take this forlorn, unloved dress and turn it into a SKIRT WITH POCKETS?  I am Super Sewing Mama!  I can DO THAT!

In addition to the dress, I was able to use one of the hubby's dress shirts that doesn't work with his new Tokyo office style.  He had told me I could cut it up earlier, but Little Sister wasn't going to go for a dress made out of navy blue stripes.  However, it was a great accent fabric for the print on the dress, so it became the pockets and waistband!

While I was at it, I thought it would be fun to salvage the sweet bodice detail from the dress.  So I went through my own closet, and pulled out a workout tank with a  really unflattering ruched bodice. Why did I bring that with me?

But as luck would have it, the color coordinated nicely with the print, and there was enough fabric in the lower part of the top (and the bonus sports-bra layer under the ruching) that I was able to make the cute coordinating tee to go with the skirt!

I did have to piece the back of the shirt since I didn't have a big enough panel of the coral knit, and I used one of the straps from the sundress to add a cute detail in the back.  I love that part!

I love these pics of her--not necessarily the best clothing photo shoot, but her dad was just out of frame talking to her and making her laugh, and I love her expressions when she's chatting with Daddy!

The sundress hem was shorter on the sides, and I didn't mess with the hemline at all, so the skirt has that detail as well:

Over the years, I have made so many skirts based on The Milkmaid Skirt tutorial from Crafterhours that I could do it from memory this time!  I made a few changes since I was upcycling, so I'll show you my process here, but if you want to make a skirt like this I really recommend that Crafterhours tutorial.

Here's what I did:

First, I cut the bodice off of the dress, leaving as much length for the skirt as possible.  You could also do this with an old shirt or larger skirt--you don't have to start with a dress!  Then I lined up the side seams and cut a pocket shape out of the front of the skirt on both sides, stopping at the seam.

Ooh, this is a better picture of the hemline trim I wanted to keep intact, too.
Then I used my seam ripper to remove the pocket cut-out the rest of the way.

I laid my pocket fabric underneath and copied the curve I cut from the front of the skirt for my pocket...

Then cut two pieces using that curve for the pocket linings.

Then I cut my two remaining pocket pieces, copying the first pocket shape but leaving out the curve for the opening.  The fabric at the top of these second pocket pieces will show, so keep that in mind if you are using a directional fabric or want to highlight a certain part of your print!

You should have two of each of these shapes (one going in each direction)

Next, pin the right side of the pocket lining with the curve cut out along the curve you cut out of the front of the skirt, on the RIGHT side of the skirt fabric.

Sew along the curve only, and clip the seams.

Then turn the pocket piece to the inside of the skirt and press.

Now, line up your remaining pocket pieces and pin in place along the outer curve of the pocket.  Make sure you've got the right side of the fabric facing DOWN so that the visible part is the right side of the pocket fabric!  Sew along the outer curve of the pocket.  I like to reinforce this with a zig-zag, since I hate getting holes in my pockets!

If you want to know the truth, I usually wait until I GET a hole in my pocket then I FIX it with a reinforced seam.
 Oh, shoot, I didn't get a picture of this step.  But once you've gotten the pockets sewn together, then rip the skirt's existing side seams down far enough to get the side seams of the pockets sandwiched in-between the front and back of the skirt.  Then re-sew those seams from the top of the skirt down, making sure to line them up nicely with the existing side seams.

Ok, back to the pictures.  Next I cut out a waistband.  I used a waistband from a pull-on pant pattern I had laying around, but that Crafterhours tutorial I linked to above will give you some good guidelines on making your waistband.  It will have elastic in it, so it doesn't need to be really exact.   I pressed mine like a piece of double-fold bias tape--in half the long way, then folded the edges in and pressed again.  I think I cut it 3 inches wide and about 25 inches long.

Another step I forgot to photograph--sew a basting stitch across the top of the skirt front inbetween the two pockets, and gather it slightly.  Gather all the way across the back of the skirt.

Then I sewed the waistband into a loop and adjusted the gathers until the skirt was about the same width as the waistband.  I lined up one raw edge of the waistband with the top of the skirt, right sides together, and sewed along the line I pressed into the waistband.

Next I folded my waistband up and over to the inside.  I decided to close it up by making sure I pinned the inside of the waistband just over the stitch line from attaching the outer part of the waistband, then I just topstitched on the outside of the waistband to hold everything together.

Make sure to leave an opening in the back though, so you can insert your elastic!  Once that's in there, close the waistband up!

I just had to show you how she used her pockets today at the park:

Rock collector extraordinaire!  I am glad I reinforced those seams after all!

And for the record, friends--in Project Run and Play, there is no voting for the sew along competitors like me.  There is a panel of judges who select the Sew-along winner.  But there are some spectacular sewing bloggers who were selected to compete each week, and anyone can vote on those!  Check out their submissions here,  and you can see all of the sew-along submissions here!