Kelly’s follies

Aberdeen’s Stewart Park! Rockin’ daytime into nightfall!
Joy

Swing

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You’d never guess what happened while the kids and I were happily frolicking. One I slammed my phone directly into the ground and broke the screen (having owned said lovely piece of technology for one month and one day). Then I lost the key to the vehicle. I discovered this just as it was getting dark as ass and after I’d walked, oh I dunno, everywhere around the park.

The phone destruction, well my sense of regret and consternation was tempered with what we call Perspective, having just watched this film yesterday. Losing the key was particularly awesome. It somehow fell out of a rather deep pocket. This? Is why we can’t have Nice Things. And by the way I’m going back to leaving the goddamn key in the vehicle’s ignition like I *always* have done.

Ralph rescued us – by this time it was very dark – and we spent some time crawling around the park with flashlights. A group of feral teenagers joined us in this. I’ll probably go back with the kids tomorrow; it’s a valet key so not exactly replaceable for a couple bucks.

Today Phoenix wore the newest hoodie I made her. Frankenpatterned from Farbenmix and Patterns by Figgys; super-soft 100% cotton and designed to her long and lanky proportions and of COURSE with a long knotted hood. It felt good to sew up something soft and huggable and simple and it felt even better to see how much she loves wearing it.

Hooded

Tomorrow? Back to the muddy park. Wish I had a metal detector and one of those old men with shorts pulled really high up to operate it.

angel in blue

My daughter loves this ensemble but personally I think it’s a tiny bit too matchy-matchy. For my taste, anyway. One won’t deny the teal is a lovely color for this time of year.

Friendly

Funny: as soon as I finished it (handsewing at the soccer practice last night) I knew my daughter would love the dress but be less enamored of the pinafore: and I was right!

Hood

Both she and I love the hood more than anything (the pattern for both pieces is Olivia from Farbenmix).

Grimms' Fairy Tales

The dress is a 100% cotton Michael Miller; the pinafore is made from one of my favorite current fabrics to work with, a linen/rayon blend.

Skirt

The linen/rayon looks better and better with age, too.

“It’s the pleats.”

Button, Flowers

Handsewn flowers via a tutorial by my lady Karen.

Laugh

Phoenix laughs, watching her dad play hackysack.

I’m offering either/or/both pieces in my little shop; you can also view more detail photos in the Flickr tagset or read my pattern review.

sneak peaks

Even in my slightly-lower energy state of an allergy diet and no frakkin’ coffee hells yes I’ve been sewing. A couple weeks ago I finished both the Brooklyn Shrug and the Insa Skirt for my daughter. Both were minor failures; both too small (patterns run small sometimes – it happens). Also: just as I sewed the last stitch of the skirt (which was a rather time-consuming venture) I thought to myself, This is so not Sophie’s style any more! Sure enough, when I presented her with the skirt two minutes later, she complimented it and then said, “Mom… I don’t want to offend you, but I kind of don’t like ruffly things any more.”

Well that makes two of us (I hate making ruffles).
RUFFLES I HATE THEM
Anyway, is she awesome or what? I’m proud of her for speaking up and I look forward to gifting the lovely to a friend’s child who is obsessed with skirts and ruffley stuff.

Funny, but Sophie’s stylings lately are distinctly tween and tween patterns are kind of difficult to find (Ottobre is awesome but I have yet to spring for a subscription). I’ve already moved on to sewing two new dresses for her, hopefully in a style she enjoys – a simple sleeveless square-necked number by Burda (she’s enjoyed her sleeveless bubble dresses very much and is now, a year later, growing out of them). I’m making the two frocks in some lovely, deep colors of linen/rayon I bought on sale at JoAnns:
Bodice, 2X
Let me tell you, this linen/rayon is a dream. You may recall (or you don’t, but I will remind you) that I used a similar blend for Sophie’s self-titled “Priest Dress” I made in the summer. That dress continues to receive heavy rotation on Sophie’s many extremely vigorous outdoor activities (remember, my kids don’t go to school: they mostly climb trees, ride bikes, and dig mud pits) and is still holding up well.

If I had any caveat on the linen/rayon it would be that the slim neckline facing pieces did not hold up at the edges; I couldn’t double-turn the far edge of the facing because of the curve and the bulk that would have resulted. I interfaced and serged the facings before applying them, but that wasn’t good enough. I might have done a very tight stitch at the base of the serge and that might have helped. As it is, this is the only part of the “Priest Dress” that is fraying and obviously, it’s not visible from the outside (my non-sewing and beginner-sewing friends reading are rolling their eyes at the “obviously”).

Learning my lessons in loose-weaves and facings, with these two dresses I instead lined/underlined the bodice with a crisp cotton. This also adds a more heirloom touch as all bodice seams will be fully enclosed. Funnily enough although I don’t have much of a fabric stash I did already own a bit of rust-color that worked to underline both dress bodices. I would have liked to underline the full skirt but I didn’t have proper yardage and I wanted to get sewing now (it happens). I’m considering buying some underlining fabrics on a bolt as it adds so much to most garments. I’d probably buy a batiste and maybe a light, stiff bull denim for some of my more structured items. I don’t know. I am kind of bush league when it comes to underlining, but my garments continue to improve.

Speaking of underlining, I’m also making a brown twill jacket for myself, Simplicity 4081 which is supposedly a forties-retro semi-fitted number. The shell is just about put together and I await via mail a silk twill for the lining. Here’s a peek at the pocket just before I turned it. At the far left you can see the black fusible interfacing I used to stabilize the edge of the pocket.
Chaqueta
Borrr-rring, I know. But, I’m not exactly a flamboyant dresser.

Incidentally, the shell fabric I’m using is a sturdy twill my brother sent me a few months ago. It was camel-colored (he’s even more boring than I am!) and I wanted a deep rust-brown. One morning while the kids slept I biked down to our local grocery store and picked up two separate brown shades of Rit dye, blending them with a scarlet packet I’d already owned (I’ve learned deep colors need lots of dye). Dying fabric is fun because it’s easy to do (at the level I’m doing it anyway – a rather mundane washing-machine batch) and it feels satisfying somehow. One of my favorite memories is an afternoon I spent with my then-pregnant friend Becca, stirring our cotton diapers up in deep, steaming vats of rich-colored dye, drinking coffee and eating lovelies and the windows and doors open to the sunshine.

Oh and finally – most exciting! I have been asked to (after my stalkery yielded the offer) pattern-test for my friend Karen and Shelley’s burgeoning pattern company, Patterns by Figgy’s. Tonight I received the email:

Hello my lovely pattern testers!

I will be sending over our “Tee for Two” pattern in the next few days for testing. Please review everything with hawk eyes. Pattern & booklet. Along with the pattern/booklet I will send you yardage needed for all sizes.Please test the size your child will wear so that we know it is a perfect fit. Please check the measurements in order to choose the correct size.

I will need you to test the pattern this week. Deadline 5/24. If you feel like you can’t commit NO PROBLEM I can keep you on the list for the next pattern.

you are testing for:
pattern size legend correct
markings in the correct places
fit
grammar
spelling
instructions in proper order
easy to follow instructions
instructions that make sense
we believe this is a beginner pattern and we want to make sure of this

Any questions please email me or Karen anytime. We appreciate all that you are doing for us and we hope you love the pattern.

Website live this week!!!

Shelly L. Figueroa
Creative Designer

This is only too exciting for me. I love getting things in the mail – and a kick-ass pattern and lovely yardage to sew it up with? Oh yes.

Brooklyn, a tank top: repurposing

Killa Zilla

My daughter seems to love the little knit camisoles and tanks I’ve made her.  The Brooklyn tank top was the next project as listed in my Farbenmix sew-up project, and yet the weather is not really tank-top weather. I chose to make a double-layer tank, providing more warmth than it might first appear.  Yesterday Sophie layered it under a close-fitting jean jacket. She survived outdoor walks in the wind and indoor frolics in the dance studio equally well.

Sophie / Dance Studio Mirror

Good quality knits hold up well during their usage, do not pill, and have intelligible grainlines to work with.  Purchasing good-quality knits isn’t exactly easy unless you live in a city and know where to find them.  You can order online but then, since you are not able to feel and see the fabric, you are at a slight disadvantage.  I do order fabrics online, but when I am matching something I prefer to see them in the flesh.  Case in point: nine yards of silk velvet burnout are on their way to my house for a bellydancing skirt.  I won’t purchase fabric to make a coordinating top until I can carry a swatch of the skirt fabric around in my hand.

Back to this tank top: fortunately, finding very nice-quality t-shirts is an option where I live because we have a few wonderful thrift stores.  These shirts are from Thrift City here in Aberdeen and are high-end brands in Pima cotton.

At first I’d thought to dress this top up a bit.  I’ve been sewing a bit of Alabama Chanin projects – making an armchair pincushion for a practice run – and I thought to decorate the bodice with reverse applique.  After experimenting with both hand- and machine-sewn versions, I decided to just keep the shirt simple.  It wasn’t working out for me.  To put it politely.

Instead I added a couple subtle tucks at the hem of the outer jersey fabric to expose the dusty rose of the underlayer. The double-layer makes for a sturdy garment; the soft hand makes for a very cozy shirt for my girl.

Pink / Pink / Pink

This top was very easy to sew.  If you are a beginner sewing with jerseys, I might suggest using strips of stabilizer or a stabilizing spray when you are sewing directly on the jersey (my mother-in-law tells me you can dissolve scraps of stabilizer in water and use it as a DIY spray or paint to stabilize. I am sure this works, and it is cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray). Your aim in using these products will be to stabilize the edges of the jersey.  Such persnickety handling is not needed for the entire project; for instance, after you’ve attached the trim and are topstitching it things go easily without stabilizing (the woven fabrics are against the feed dogs).

This brings me to my favorite aspect of this project.  The notable thing about this top was the construction of the trim.  I chose to use a woven fabric on the bias, as opposed to a knit.  For any novice stitchers reading here, bias trim is made from long strips cut on the bias of the fabric and used at hemlines and seamlines or as detail. These bias strips serve as ties and trim both.  Using the bias is important, as only then will a woven perform a bit of stretch and can easily go around a curve; a strip cut on the straight-of-grain would not work well at all.

In this version, you attach the 1 1/4″ strip’s long edge to the right-side of the garment edge, flip the trim to the backside, and triple zig-zag topstitch all layers:

New Bias Trick For Knits
A triple zig-zag is a thready stitch, but such a great one with knits. You can pretty much use it with impunity. The results are a firm, slightly stretchy, and very sturdy trim application.  Given I have a very small stash of fabric, a project like this is perfect for using scraps to trim the top.

Tie Close-Up, Brooklyn Tank Top
¡Que bonita!

You can read a few more details in my Flickr tagset.

Riviera, leggings: construction and fit in simple knit garments

Perfectamundo!

Leggings are, to quote Mugatu, “so hot right now”!  Even if they go out of vogue for the adult fashion set, they’ll always be practical for children.  You can use them for play wear, costumes, or pajamas, and they’re smart in the Northwest where layering clothes is de rigueur for our capricious weather swings.

Leggings come in about three fits (your terminology may vary): loose, fitted, and footless tight (or negative fit).  The Riviera leggings in the Farbenmix book are pretty much just what you might understand by the book’s photos – that is, a legging in between loose and fitted.  This makes perfect sense for children’s garments when you want them to last more than one season.  If you were sewing these leggings for an adult, he/she might not like such a relaxed silhouette.

Knit fabrics that work well for fitted or footless tight style will have a sufficient bit of “spring” to them.  This isn’t rocket science, and you can test it in the fabric store.  Simply pull aross the stretchy grain and release: you want to see a bit of “snap”.  You can certainly sew leggings up in something with less elasticity but they may bag slightly during wear – and if sufficiently un-springy (like a 100% cotton), they may retain a knee-shape (this reason is why I hate stretch jeans – even with a tiny bit of spandex in them, they are significantly looser at stress points by the end of one wearing).

Leggings are usually made with one pattern piece, roughly a six-sided kite-shape.  The top and bottom represent half the waist and the full leg hem, resp.  There is a front and back crotch curve at the top of each piece, and the long “kite” leg sides of the piece represent the inseam.

Here is my general methodology for leggings: reinforcing all construction seams, I finish each leg first (hems and all), then turn one leg inside out, slip a right-side out legging into it, and sew them together at the crotch.  I then construct the waistband, which is the trickiest part.  I will detail in the following paragraph but – don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed, as a method will likely be detailed (with pictures) in any pattern worth its salt.

Reinforcing seams:

Reinforce Seams

To construct the waistband.  I first make a tag in the back of the leggings (otherwise simple pants, without a fly or pockets to guide you, can be tricky to tell front from back).  I cut elastic to the comfortable waist measurement (either using my intended, or taking a waist measurement minus an inch or two), stitch the elastic together at the short ends, and mark both the elastic and the pants hems in quarters.  I slip the elastic “loop” into the pants and pin at the quarter marks, pinning the stitched-together elastic at the back seam of the leggings (below photo, tag included).  Then I stitch the top of the elastic to the raw edge of the leggings with the legging fabric against the feed dogs, stretching the elastic as I go (I first take a few stitches before stretching to secure the seam).  You can use a simple zig zag or a three-step zig zag for the waistband stitches.  After the elastic is secured at the top edge I simply fold the whole business down to the inside of the pants, then stitch again, stretching the legging fabric again.  Easy – especially after you’ve practiced a bit.

Preparing To Attach Waistband

My methodology is more or less the methodology outlined in the Farbenmix book.  The waistband recommended for the Riviera leggings is sport elastic.  I used the 1 1/4″ channeled sport elastic I use for sewing the kids’ boxer shorts.  It’s very soft and supple and easy to work with.

Sewing elastic to knits is easy and, once you get the hang of it, very fun.  For instance, the dress Sophie is wearing in the finished-garment photos is a GAP size 0 rayon number we purchased for $5 at Pure Clothing in Hoquiam.  The dress, being an adult size, was too large in the chest and strap length.  I sewed the straps shorter, cut off the excess, and added some 1/4″ elastic to the top of the dress.  These alterations took about fifteen minutes together and now Sophie has a stylish playdress (if you want to watch a tutorial on sewing elastic to stretchy knits, Brian Remlinger, my favorite sewist to stalk, has an excellent tutorial of a fast, effective method).

I made only one ruche (pronounced “roosh”) on the leggings.  This is because I still do not have a rolled hem plate for my serger (my local vendor keeps forgetting to order me one) so it’s not all that fun to finish edges of fabrics that require slender hems.  I simply did a zig-zag; the fabric isn’t going to ravel or anything.  The busy pattern of the fabric also hides any less-than-professional stitch-business:

Attaching A ROOOOOOSH

My daughter loved the leggings – once she saw they were ready she changed into them.  They fit her perfectly both in size and in attitude.

You can read more details of construction at my Riviera Flickr tagset.


Tough.
Glee-Glee
Leap!