Saturday, June 27, 2009

happy birthday kate

happy birthday kate
Originally uploaded by wck

My niece is turning 6, so here's her birthday cake. It's the same cake I made for my birthday (made with yogurt so it's sooo easy!) with strawberry jam between the layers.

She loves to look in my falling-apart Baking at Home cookbook by the Culinary Institute of America. It has a cake frosted with buttercream with perfect little puffs of frosting around the edges. A few months ago she requested that exact cake for her birthday. I'm not much of a cake decorator, so I told her I'd try. Well, 4 hours later, here we go!

I've also been busy taking apart an old silk dress that my mom had from the 1980s. I want use the top (sans poufy 80s sleeves) as a dress bodice, although I haven't quite figured out what to do for the skirt. It's sitting on my dressform while I think about it some more.

1980s silk liz claiborne dress

I also went to the Isabel Toledo exhibit at the FIT Museum this morning- it was sooo wonderful! I brought my notebook and pencils and sketched a bunch of details. One thing that I really loved was a seam she used on a few jersey dresses- the pieces didn't quite meet at the seam, and she ran a very fine mesh through the space between the pieces that were being joined. (Is that called a strap seam? I feel like it is.) I couldn't believe how smooth and perfect the pieces all were even with that seam curving all over. Wow.

If you get a chance to go see the exhibit, it's well worth the visit. (And it's free, which is awesome.) I got there about 10:45 AM, and was sitting in the lobby when... Bill Cunningham walked by! Oh my goodness. I almost wanted to run up and tell him that he was one of my favorite photographers EVER, but he was talking to someone. I love him to pieces, can't believe I've actually seen him in person now! He had on the blue smock he always wears to work, and was carrying his camera... I wonder if he got special permission to photograph the exhibit?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

lavender fabrics

boucleCarolyn had a few posts about the vera wang lavender collection fabrics in the last few days, and I wanted to add some photos and notes of the ones I bought. I was really happy that she'd pointed out the sale on these, as the prices were great. I really like the pieces that I got. Lets start with my favorite here, a black and white wool blend boucle. I bought a yard to make a pencil skirt, but the fabric is really wide so I might make something more than just a pencil skirt. We'll see. It's got a very nice hand to it. I opened all these with my mom and she said "that's a great skirt material" as soon as I'd pulled it out. So I'll line it with silk or some ambiance and make a skirt for fall.

Lavender and white poly and rayon brocade- I wasn't sure what to do with this when I ordered it, but I liked the print. My mom really liked it when I opened the box, and she's much more willing to wear prints than I am, so I offered to make her something from it. It has a stiff hand for how thin it is and is a bit shiny, so we discussed a skirt but she doesn't like large scale prints for skirts. So it will be a cropped jacket- I'll find a BWOF pattern for one (there have been a bunch recently that are really cute).

Black Cotton/Poly faille - really, really, really like this! I recently bought a khaki colored faille jacket from J Crew and I've been wearing it almost nonstop for the past month. The weave is so tight that it's almost waterproof... nice in all the rain we've been getting. So I'll make a similar black jacket from this. This one was hard to photograph so that you can see the stiff drape- it's really black, but I had to play around in photoshop.

silk wool white Silk/wool twill -another one I love. It has a very light hand and drapes very easily. I'll probably make a skirt from this for fall.

black flannel Stretch wool flannel - I was thinking of making pants from this, but it's a bit heavy for that. So now I think I might make a fitted dress or a coat. The face is really soft!

wool jersey Charcol wool jersey - I was hoping this would be light enough to make a wrap dress for winter, but it's a very beefy wool jersey. Not a bad thing, just not going to work well for a wrap dress. So I think I'll make a zip front hoodie from it, using the jalie hoodie pattern. That will leave me with some extra, so I might make a skirt or something as well.

silk blend
Silk and Rayon blend - has a hand almost like a duchesse satin. Very stiff drape. Not sure what to make out of it... probably it will end up being a fitted dress or something. We'll see- the color is really pretty so I'll figure something out!

So anyway... these are mostly fall fabrics so I might not sew anything with them until September or later. They'll be sitting on the bookshelf waiting for cooler weather sewing to start!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Knit ruffles!

This is the Jalie tshirt pattern I always use, in size 6. The pants are a "vintage" (aka inherited from my aunt) Butterick pattern in size 5. Just your basic elastic waist kids pull on pants.


And this is the "I just had a chocolate cupcake with mocha frosting with real espresso in it!!!!!" look.

Here's another one. There's a reason why I don't have my own kids (Kate is my niece, I get to return her to her mommy at the end of each weekend). I don't know better than to feed kids cupcakes with coffee and oodles of sugar in them. I've been teaching Kate to bake, just like my grandma taught me, and I'm wondering now how she dealt with all the inevitable sugar fits.


I think the house survived post-chocolate-cupcakes, but it was a close call. Anyway, the shirt fabric is this neat stuff with ruffles sort of knit into it. I bought it because of a thread on Artisans Square. Someone linked to Marcy Tilton's site with that fabric, and I found the botanical print linen there also, and... well... they turned up on my doorstep. I'm planning on making myself a skirt from the linen, and a tank top from the knit fabric. My sister has an order in for a camisole from it, so good thing I have almost 3 yards! The fabric is really awesome- the ruffles are the same type of thread as the underlayer, just knit a little denser.

After Kate had calmed down, I made up another pintuck skirt from Stitch Magazine. You might recall that last month I tried making myself this in denim, and came up with a skirt that was too tight. This is 3% lycra denim, and it fits much better!

stitch magazine skirt

Here's a better view of the pintuck detail
stitch magazine skirt

I used a pintuck foot and a denim twin needle with topstitching thread from Guttermann. The pintuck lines were transferred from the pattern with chalk paper and a tracing wheel- it actually went pretty quickly, and then making the skirt up went much better this time. I put an invisible side zipper in, and ye olde grosgrain ribbon waistband. I like fast. ;-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

PJs and a new chair cover

new chair cover What to do when it's pouring outside? How about pulling out your trusty seam ripper and taking apart an Ikea chair cover? I have an 8 year old Poang Ikea armchair that had a plain ivory cover that had gotten a kind of grungy from all the spilled coffee and 8 years of use. I thought this home dec leaf print was kind of cute, so I took the old one apart and re did it with the print. I finished it, but it was a good reminder why I prefer to sew clothes and not home dec projects.

First unzipped it and took out the foam cushions, then ripped off the old binding around the outer edges. Next I ripped out the stitching where the back met the seat at the bend of the cushion. That separated the front of the cushion cover from the back. The front is a piece of fabric quilted to a layer of batting, which I wanted to re-use so I soaked the front cover in some oxyclean and washed it gently. While that was going on, I took apart the back which was in three pieces, joined by zippers. I kept the middle most tiny rectangle and used the other two pieces as pattern pieces to cut the new back. Then I stitched the zippers into the new cover. When the front was dry, I cut a new front using the old one as a pattern piece, and quilted the new fabric right over the old fabric. Then I basted the front and back together and put on a new binding, and voila- new chair cover! Putting the binding on was actually a beast. It was really stiff and kind of hard to maneuver... it's not perfect, but no one is going to be carefully inspecting the binding on it, so it will do.

new chair cover

Then I was feeling a bit jealous of my sister's comfy new flannel PJs so I made myself a pair -also from Farmer's Market flannel. This is the vintage cherries print. Sooooo soft!


BeeBee, your copy of the pattern is an envelope ready to go up to the mailbox! I actually thought some more about how to better organize my BWOF traced off patterns, since I end up with multiple traced copies of the good patterns when I lose the original tracing... I'm really resisting getting a filing cabinet but I might have to break down and go with that.

One last important item. cutest corgi puppies ever on cute overload this morning. Awwwwwwww.

Monday, June 15, 2009

lacy birthday dress

Shhh, it's not her birthday yet, but here's Kate trying on her unfinished dress. She spied it in my sewing room and wanted to test drive it- and she was very good about putting it back away when she had tried it on so that it can be wrapped up for the party! She looks very serious, but she was busy "being a model" for these photos. ;-)

The lace insert hand sewn in place to the neck:

You can see the bright blue lining in the sleeve:

A full shot:

I put an invisible zipper into the back, but in these photos it was just hand basted in place. I've sewn it in now, and finished sewing the last inch of the fabric to the lining at the neck, trapping the top of the zipper in that seam. I find it easiest to leave that inch open and finish it up after the zipper is in. The lining is then slip stitched to the zipper tape down the back on the inside.

And here is the owl dress. I'm wearing a BWOF top from the November 2008 issue- one of my favorite shirts now.
kate & me

I looked through my drawers here and I found two more dresses that I never finished for myself that I will see if I can refashion into dresses for Kate. It hasn't been too much work yet to rip out the old zippers and take off the bodices, so it's nice to see the skirts at least get a new life!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

a birthday present

Rainy afternoon hand sewing. I bought this lace for $1/yard in the garment district and it's been floating around my sewing loft for a few weeks. My mom is showing me how to hand sew it to a garment. This is actually another refashion of a dress that didn't work for me to a dress for Kate, and it will be a birthday present for her. I started a peachy silk dress for myself a few years ago, but messed up the bodice and stuffed it into a trunk. After last week's successful refashion, I remembered this one and pulled it out and took off the bodice. So I had a nice silk skirt, and was able to cut a bodice using BWOF 02-2009-139, in size 6X. So it will be a bit big on Kate, but she'll grow into it.

Here's the dress, still mostly pinned together. The fabric is some peach colored dupioni silk that frays like crazy, unfortunately.

I'm going to put in a back zipper, even though the instructions say it doesn't need one. They cut it REALLY low in the front- typical BWOF, but this is a little kids dress!!! So we're going to try to fix it with a lace insert behind the neckline, which would mean that it needs a zipper to go over her head. The insert will be hand sewn in, and then the zipper inserted and the neckline seam finished. Then I'll hand sew down the bodice lining over the waist seam. After that it will be finished!

And here is Declan, enjoying a rainy day nap.


flannel PJ pants

I came home from vacation to find my sister a little sick- no fun if you're the mom of 3 little kids. I felt a little bad that I was lounging around poolside in Florida while she was feeling so lousy and chasing the little monsters around, so I made her some "feel better" PJs. These are from the December 2007 BWOF pajama pants pattern, made from flannel from Sandi Henderson's Farmers Market fabric line. The binding on the bottom of the pants is also farmers market, "Henna Garden" print. This flannel is sooooooo soft. OMG. I've never felt such cuddly flannel before!

I tried them on to get a picture:
PJ pants for my sister

I have about a yard of the flannel left, and I think I'll make it into the quilt backing of a baby quilt. It's too cuddly so it will make a nice soft quilt!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

no sewing

Originally uploaded by wck

gone swimming

(Actually, I also had to share this picture. I love traveling with Dan, but I have to laugh at how silly we are sometimes. Get off plane, make beeline to starbucks, pull out blackberries. (; )

travel essentials

Sunday, June 7, 2009

more sewing for Kate

PJs for Kate First, thanks so much for the compliments on the black vintage pattern dress! I wore it around some more and it's really comfortable. I was wearing it with a black slip under it, and I ended up sitting and talking to Kate and discovered that she had NO IDEA what a slip was. So now I owe her a little half slip of her own. ;-) I made a project for her this morning from some fabric she picked out a few weeks ago. That's Hannah Montana flannel. For PJs. Originally she wanted a dress from this, but I talked some sense into her in the fabric store. Of course then we got home and my mom said that I should have done what she wanted- a dress from this flannel. I ended up telling her that if anyone was going to be sewing a flannel dress it was going to be her, not me. I don't see a dress from flannel working very well! My mom is big into letting kids figure things out for themselves, so she thinks if Kate wants a flannel dress, Kate should get to help make a flannel dress and see if she likes it. I figured the Kate help was going to be minimal (it was indeed) so I stuck with the PJ pants route. :-D

PJs for Kate

Here's some decorative stitching on the pants hem- I used a bit of floral binding as a semi-quick hem.

PJs for Kate

And then after that, I took the skirt off a sundress I'd made myself a while ago and never wore. I put a new, Kate-sized bodice on it instead. This skirt was mid-calf length with an empire waist on me, so it's loooooong. I need to try it on her and figure out where to hem it. i'm glad that this is getting a second life- I like the pink fabric, but the original dress looked horrible on me.
refashion for kate

It buttons over her shoulders, so there's no need for a zipper at center back, so I decided to try something new. I stitched the bodice lining to the skirt, then stitched the outer bodice to the lining at the continuous neck/arm seam and flipped it right side out- now the bodice lower seam hangs free. I covered it with a ribbon. No particular reason for doing it this way, I was just goofing around.

refashion for kate

You might notice that I did confused with this inside-outside change around and I got the interfacing for under the button holes on the part of the lining that's "outside" inside the dress. Oooops. I don't think anyone can see it when it's on her, though.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

1960s A line dress - Vogue 6924

After a few years, I've FINALLY finished this dress. My aunt gave me the pattern in october 2007.

Dress Pattern

It's really beautiful, and was actually the first pattern I ever saw with stitching lines marked on it! I actually started a thread on Stitcher's Guild with a photo of a pattern piece, asking what in the world those crazy inner black lines were. ;-) Shortly after that, I made a muslin and had my mom fit the bodice. Then I cut out the dress from some black stretch twill with white dots woven into it- from Parons, and it was marked as a How & Wen fabric. It has a nice weight, hefty enough that you don't feel like the skirt is going to flying up, but light enough to drape well. The all in one arm/neck facing is cut from some bright pink silk. Then I stitched the dress up, pinned down the facing and left it. Literally, it was hanging 3 feet from my sewing machine from October 2007ish until this afternoon- I finally pulled it off the hanger and hand stitched down the facing inside (I should have interfaced the silk, but I didn't, and it was threatening to slide around and flip out). Then I hemmed it with bias tape, since I knew if I was going to hand sew the huge skirt it would take another year or so to finish it!

Here's a photo:
1960s vogue pattern

SO glad to have finally finished this up- it was probably my longest lived UFO! I really like wearing it, so hopefully it will get some use this summer. With a cardigan over it, it should be pretty wearable for my office for the summer. I wish I had an occasion to wear the longer dress to- I'd love to make it up in a silk twill or something, but I can't say that my life calls for any floor length gowns outside of Halloween. ;-)

Here's the envelope back:
Dress Pattern envelope back

I didn't really follow the directions for the dress, but they're really detailed and have you underline and everything. If I find the right fabric, I'll do it up again the "right" way with the underlining and everything.