Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Top: Done!


I'm here! Sorry for the radio silence this week. I have been working madly to finish my Spring Top, with hopes of entering the competition over at Made By Rae. Well, it's done!!!! Yay!!!! Dangerous piles of dirty dishes are crowding my sink and kitchen counters, the entire apartment is in dire need of being vacuumed, my kid was in his PJ's until waaaay late and watched waaaay too much TV today... But, my top is done (with about 3 hours to spare till deadline, eek!).

Without further ado, here's the photo I'm submitting to the competition:

Button Top by Jenny at Stumbles & Stitches

As discussed in much detail on this blog previously, this top was copied from a cute little summer tunic from Target, circa 3 years ago. I love it so much and wear it all the time. It was about time I made another version. What I like specifically about this top is: 1) it is super comfortable, first and foremost; 2) it is very versatile and looks great on a "regular" woman as well as a pregnant or nursing one; and 3) it is a sleeveless top that fits perfectly over almost any bra, and I love that convenience.

Here's the Target top to refresh your memory. (Wrinkly, wrinkly, sorry.)


I chose a combo of fabric that I just love for this top: lilac cotton with white dots that I inherited from my mom's stash purge, and a lotus flower print cotton that is actually a sheet I thrifted at Goodwill a couple of years ago and love. I used this same combination of fabrics for a baby kimono outfit previously and wanted to switch the focus of fabric on the lotus print this time.


In my last update on Tuesday, I still had quite a few things to do on the top. All week, I've been using every minute of free time to make some progress, which as you know is quite the challenge between my 2-yr-old who wants to "help" me iron, or the cat who grabs my pincushion every chance she gets and, I kid you not, tries to eat the pins (cuckoo cat!).

Anyway, I moved forward slowly but surely. Finished sewing my top. Added pockets (did NOT like that process). Top-stitched the upper portion. Fitted it on myself. Hemmed. Made buttons and sewed them on. And finally took a bunch of photos in the brightest room I could find in my house on this cloudy day: my bedroom (with an impossibly wrinkly duvet cover, sorry again). But, instead of keeping on talking, I'll just show you the photos.

Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top

Here's the finished product:

Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top

And here's my little self-orchestrated photo shoot to show you the top actually on me and how it fits and all that. Jenny in all her domestic glory! I did muster putting on some lip gloss, woot! I chose to leave my face in the pics so I could say a little virtual hi and you could see what I look like with about 5 more inches of hair length (which is coming off soon, soon, soon I think, despite my husband's pleas, sorry honey).

Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Jenny: Spring Top
Yes, you can see a bra strap here, which belies what I said earlier, but I was moving around so much setting up the camera on the high shelf of my closet and then running to my spot before the timer went off, that the top shifted a bit... Excuses, excuses...

Below is probably how I'll be wearing the top, with a little cardigan, since spring is quite chilly here in the Pacific Northwest.

Jenny: Spring Top

And that about rounds up my progress and entry for the Spring Top competition! What are your impressions? Do you think I even stand a chance to make it to the Top 50?

I know you've had a lot of unforeseen schedule mishaps this week and won't be able to complete your top in time. You must be disappointed, I'm sorry. I sure hope you're going to finish it though, because I want to see it, as do our readers, I bet!!

To everyone who reads this, make sure and check out Made By Rae this coming week. She'll be posting finalists every day for readers to vote on. My fingers are officially crossed!

 Angel-mini-buttonJenny I love it!  The fabrics are great together and you did a great job reproducing the other shirt.  It's so versatile!  The cardigan on top is super cute.  And of course I'm going to say that you'll get in the top 50!  

I actually cleaned off my work space and started sewing!  Then I realized that I need a "sharp" needle instead of the "ball point" I purchased (according to the book).  What I had wasn't working that great so it's off to JoAnn again tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Top: Progress, Progress...


Tick tock, tick tock. Only 3 days left till submission for the Spring Top competition... I *think* I can get it done, we will see. How about you? I know you've had so much going on lately, have you found time to get started on your top?

So, let's see. Let me update you on my end... There has been progress! Yes, yes!

I ended up picking Top 1 out of my 4 options (thanks for the input!). I started by taking all kinds of measurements of that cute Target top and jotted them down in my little notebook along with drawings of the different pieces involved. Being very visual, this helps me "get the picture" (no pun intended) and have points of reference in lieu of instructions. I then drew my pattern by finding each piece of the top, laying it down as flat as possible on my pattern paper and tracing it.

Jenny: Spring Top Progress
Jenny: Spring Top Progress
Jenny: Spring Top Progress

Note: do not draw on pattern paper with markers that are not fabric markers. Ugh. The stupid Crayola marker transferred on my fabric, which means I'll have to wash my Top before I can photograph it for the competition. Double ugh.

Moving on...

I cut my pattern pieces, ironed the fabric and pinned the pattern onto it. (That lilac polka dot fabric does not iron well at all, I'm not sure why.)

Jenny: Spring Top Progress

I made one cut with my scissors before I realized I had to add 1/2 inch seam allowance. Woops! So I un-pinned everything, and re-pinned with enough space around the pattern pieces. I am such a spaz, I had even written on each pattern piece a big "add 1/2 inch allowance", doh. Anyway, nice save, right?

Jenny: Spring Top Progress
Jenny: Spring Top Progress

Then yesterday, I began sewing! It was so nice to get reacquainted with my sewing machine. It had been almost a month since I had used it (the last time was to finish the baby kimono outfit for Stephanie, and then my mom worked on a couple of projects for our house). Anyway, I felt a little rusty, but it all came together.

I started with the straps. I tried my best to do a nice rounded end, but eek, my perfectionist eye is none too pleased. Hmmm. I had to forge ahead so I pressed and top-stitched them. I am hoping the addition of large buttons will hide the imperfections somehow.

Jenny: Spring Top Progress
Jenny: Spring Top Progress

I sewed the straps into their spots on the back top piece. They remind me of a bunny, he he. I guess I still have Easter on the brain.

Jenny: Spring Top Progress

Then I sewed the front top piece together. I ruffled the top edge of the front bottom piece and attached it to the front top piece. And that's about as far as I got before the munchkin woke up from his nap and it was time to get dinner started.

Jenny: Spring Top Progress
Jenny: Spring Top Progress

This afternoon, during what I hope is a nice long nap for Ben, I need to add the pockets -- I forgot to draw the pattern for them or cut them from the fabric, woops! Next step will be ruffling the back and attaching the top piece to it. Then sewing the front and back together and fitting it on myself. Then attaching the straps to the front with buttons, and hemming the bottom. Am I forgetting anything?? Do you think I can get it done??!

So, what are your feelings toward the April 30 deadline? I guess if neither of us makes the official deadline, we can just do our own little show-and-tell here! We shall see!

I am also curious to hear from our readers. Do you have tips for knocking off an existing piece of clothing and creating a pattern from it? Are you making yourself a top or other clothing for spring and summer?

Angel-mini-buttonJen!  I love it!  That was my favorite combination and I love that style.  It's pretty similar to what I'm making!  Mine will have pockets too, but inside instead of outside.  Progress for me:  ironing the fabric and laying it out with the pattern sheet on the table.  Most of today I was taking care of the poor husband (he ended up with a cortisone shot, muscle relaxers and some pain medication, plus he had some myofascial release work done..........) but I am going to try to cut out my pieces tonight!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Link Love


Happy Friday! I know you're enjoying having daddy home just like we are today. Funny how they both got the day off! Don't you just love those special days when the whole family is together (and the welcome pair of extra hands to wrangle the kiddos!)?

Ben and I visited our local nursery yesterday and picked up seeds, seedlings, dirt and pots to start a little indoor and porch garden today. It is a little late in the season, but better late than never and it was Earth Day, what better way to celebrate than plan how we're going to grow things! So, today we shall be getting dirty!

In the meantime, here are a few links I saved this week.

- I really like this reversible bag from Very Purple Person (see photo below). It's a super cute blog and she provides a great tutorial for this project. I will definitely be making one of these for the summer, maybe with a longer handle/strap.

- I love this quilt so much, from Viola and Pearl. This particular color combo really strikes me for some reason.

- I know I posted her blog a couple of weeks ago already, but this post by Gennine makes me want to get the watercolors out! She is so talented!

- Photojojo recently posted 10 tips for Food Photography, pretty cool and helpful. (Edit: I just double-checked and this was posted in 2008, I just found it recently!)

- And wow, check out this article: a Sewing Cafe opens up in Paris! How fun is that?! I would love to have something like this in my neighborhood. We walked right along the canal in that neighborhood last summer, I know exactly where it is!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby Kimonos


Quick project post today... It's my mom's last day in town. We've been running around so much lately that I haven't even had time to completely finish this particular project, as you will see. Oh well, I was too excited to share this with you to wait any longer.

Jenny: Baby Kimono

LOTS of babies lately. Friends, family, everyone's having them. Which means: baby gifts! I've been making a lot! I had been meaning to try out Heather Ross' kimono pattern (Lucy's Kimono in Weekend Sewing) and finally decided to give it a try, times three. Yes, instead of making one, I made three kimonos. And pants. I know I'm a little nuts, but you're the one who inspired me by sewing two of everything. It's such a great time-saver and productivity-booster.

So, first I picked my fabrics. Once again, they had to be from my stash (resolutions, resolutions, you'd think my stash would be super low by now...), so I had limited options for print combos. I kind of like all 3 for different reasons though. Do you recognize the purple duo?


Then came time to copy the pattern, iron my fabrics and cut the pieces out. I had already made my bias, so that was ready to go. Based on the amount of fabric I had for each print, I ended up making 2 3-6-month outfits and 1 0-3-month outfit (which means I adapted Heather Ross' 0-3 month kimono pattern a bit, simply by adding 1/2 inch all around, except for inside the neckline, to make it roughly 3-6-month size).


Some parts of this project were easier than others. Attaching and sewing the bias around the neckline was okay. So was adding on the sleeves. I prettied up the sleeves by adding some bias to the cuffs, just because.

Closing up the tiny 1/4 inch bias tape was a bee-atch. I couldn't keep the tape going straight through my machine, ugh. My mom suggested my needle may not have been sharp enough. Who knows? It was a pain. Another rough part for me was sewing the sides together, while catching the pieces of bias tape that will be used to tie the kimono. Turns out you have to match several seams together at that point, so that there are no obvious overlaps and gaps when you turn the kimono inside out. Quite the puzzle!


The pants were easy peasy. I mixed and matched several patterns I found online, according to the sizes I needed. I added some coordinating fabric at the bottom of the legs to tie it all together with the kimonos. I tricked out the hem so that the pants can be rolled up and still be aesthetic: I folded and pressed 1/4 inch toward the wrong side (= inside), then folded the fabric again this time enough so the first fold covered the seam between the 2 fabrics by about 1/8 inch. I pinned in place then sewed in the ditch from the right side (= outside). I hope this makes sense. You can see the photo of the pinned hems below.


I am pretty pleased with the final result, though you are not allowed to look too close. My sewing-in-the-ditch is as wobbly as ever, and I couldn't quite properly finish those bias tape ends. But still, pretty cute, don't you think?

The purple outfit was a gift for my friend Stephanie who just had a little girl, Lennon. I hope it fits her in time for summer or maybe early fall.


This is what I sent Stephanie. I had to show you the super-duper cute card I found, I thought you would totally dig it!


The other two outfits are not quite finished yet (notice the unfinished hems, I've been too crazed lately to be a perfectionist in this post!!). They are awaiting the arrival of some special babies. (Pssst, notice how my knots are on different sides of the kimonos, woops!)


I am completely in love with the flowery blue and fuchsia one. I want to wear it!

Haven't you made some baby kimonos before? What's your input on the process? Do you have a favorite pattern? I'd love to hear from our readers on this too. Sewn kimonos before? Have a favorite baby gift to make? Please share with us!

Angel-mini-buttonOh Jenny, they are so cute!  I have made several baby kimonos using a different pattern, one of them is almost finished (and will actually fit Silas when it's done!) so I will post a picture of it next week.  Did the pattern go together well?  Tell me more about how you traced the pattern from Weekend Sewing, you didn't cut it out, right?  I haven't made anything from her book yet and still am not sure exactly how the patterns in the back actually work.


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