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Queen of Unfinished Projects

30 Apr

This morning I was tidying up my sewing room (seriously one of my favorite things to do) and I came across quite a few projects that I enthusiastically started but never actually got around to finishing.  Some of them I started  in the past few weeks and a few are from the last few… years.  The shame.  Last month I actually found a half sewn pair of pajama pants that I started when I was in university in the 90’s.  So now I’m mentally gearing myself up to finish up these projects  once and for all and get started on some new ones.  Please tell me I’m not alone with this problem.  Do any of you out there also have some unfinished projects taking up space and taunting you whenever you see them?
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Here are some Seersucker shorts that I made for my son.  The pattern was one of the most difficult I’ve ever done (thank goodness for friends with such great knowledge of pattern language!).  There are fancy pockets, belt loops, a zipper and way too many buttons and button holes.  I learned a lot of great sewing techniques from these shorts.  But I will never make them again in my life.  Now I just have to motivate myself to hem them.  Hemming is always my weak point.

20130430-143759.jpgOne day I holed myself up in my sewing room (about 8 months ago) and sewed up all of these fabric leaves and circles.  I never really had a solid idea of what I was going to do with them but I was confident  it would come to me sometime.  It still hasn’t come to me.  Any ideas for what to do with these out there?

20130430-143906.jpgMy mother-in-law and I started these dresses above during her time here at Easter.  The pattern is from my newest sewing book Stof Voor Durf-Het-Selvers by Lies Bottermans and Griet De Smedt (as far as I know it’s only available in Dutch).  They are absolutely lovely and so close to being finished.  One needs a zipper installed (not my favorite job) and they both need to be hemmed.  In any case, I’ll make sure they’re done by summertime.  Maybe my Mother-in-law should return to finish them with me (hint hint).

20130430-144044.jpgA little summer sleeveless top made with Max Mara fabric.  I’ll be finishing it up with my sewing group this Friday.  So at least I can check that one off my list right away.  It’s a start!

20130430-144350.jpgThis is the project that I started about 18 months ago.  I made about 8 of these purses for Christmas gifts and I guess by the time I started this one I just couldn’t bring myself to finish yet another one.  It’s made with black linen and a soft  thick cotton.  I think I’m finally ready to finish it up and make a few more.  If I can remember the pattern of course.

So wish me luck on finishing all of these projects and making room (mentally and physically) for some new projects that I’ve had simmering in my head for a while.  And if a few of you harassed me every now and then to see the finished products  I’d really appreciate it.

Tutorial: Small Fabric Basket

19 Mar

{Here’s  little simple sewing project from the Jillian In Italy archives.  I think this would be a great project to do for Easter for the kids or even with the kids.  I can just imagine a garden full of these sweet little baskets filled with Easter eggs and candy.}

Here is a very basic tutorial that a good friend of mine designed for a very sweet little fabric basket.  Very quick and gratifying.  I used oilcloth for the outside and a cotton for the inside but it would be possible to use only cotton as well (or even nicer would be linen).  If using cottons or linens I would recommend using interfacing to make it stiff enough to stand up on it’s own.  The paper clips are used to avoid getting little pin holes in the plasticized material or oilcloth. Please let me know if I wasn’t clear on any of my instructions (I know the corner part is a bit hard to see in the photo).

Read on to get full tutorial. Continue reading

Cucito

5 Mar

For some reason I’ve been really busy at my sewing machine lately.  Every day I find myself holed up in my sewing room with little bits of  thread hanging from my hair, on my clothes and pretty much all over every surface in the entire house.

Once I start on a project I seem to lose my sense of time and what else needs to get done around here.  In other words, we’ve been living off take-out pizza and canned tuna  for a few days now and the house is looking a little worse for wear (not yet squalor state yet though!).

Here are a few finished items from the last week:

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I’m trying to bring the funky back to smocks for the little ones.  Oh yeah, it was never there.  But seriously, I’m going to change the way the world sees smocks.  I have big plans.

Unfortunately I had some issues with this MaxMara fabric running (see the little white lines coming from the bias?) due to the stretch in the fabric.  Any tips out there on how to avoid this?  Thinner needle perhaps?

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I’m in the process of taking a creative map making course over on Skillshare and I decided to step away from the computer and do something handmade.  I printed off a map of Europe on some cotton muslin and embroidered our first trips as a family.  Now I still have to figure out whether I make it into a pillow, or something to hang on the wall etc.  Any ideas?

1-IMG_6816Last week I finished making up a few wallets in our sewing group.  It was always one of those projects that seemed too advanced and complicated but in the end it was actually quite do-able.  There are a lot of pieces involved and three weights of interfacing but I didn’t have a breakdown…not even once.

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Look!  A zipper pouch, credit card pockets, and a snap closure! What more could you want in a sewing project?  Pattern from 101 Fabric-by-Fabric Ways To Sew a Metre by Rebecca Yaker.

1-IMG_6814And last but not least, today I whipped up this little bag  (similar to this one from a few weeks ago).  This beautiful cotton fabric is Point of Sail by Michael Miller.

Echino Purse

15 Feb

The other day some good friends and I got together for our weekly sewing morning  and we decided to try out a pattern from a new sewing book I received my mother called 101 Great Ways to Sew a Metre by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins.  The book is full of patterns for various bags, purses, clothing, toys and other household items and no project asks for more than a metre of fabric.  The patterns are all really well explained with clear instructions.  I have to admit that the spats (cowboy boot covers) found on page 147 will not be made by me though.

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We decided to sew the Scrunchie Bag (page166) because it’s a big and roomy casual purse that we thought would come in quite handy.  I decided to use a gorgeous fabric with vintage typewriters on it by the Japanese brand Kokka (Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Shining).  For the inside of the bag I used a spotted linen that I purchased in Japan last year.  The two fabrics compliment each other perfectly.

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We loved the fact that there were rings for the strap and that the top was elasticized.  Both new sewing techniques for us.  We cut and finished sewing the bag in less than three hours.  My kind of sewing project.

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I’m quite in love with my new typewrite purse.

(here’s my last sewing project using Echino fabric)

Embroidery With Kids

6 Feb

 

The last ten days have been a little rough around this household.  A few kids caught an evil virus and were laid up with high fever for over a week.  I don’t remember the last time any of my kids were so sick.   And I had forgotten what it’s like to be house-bound for OVER A WEEK.  But we survived.  And we had some lovely moments together over the past ten days.

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At a certain point I was fed up of playing Connect Four, Phase 10 and Ingenious so I went and started rummaging through my sewing room for some ideas of something creative to do with sick kids.  I found an old box full of wooden embroidery rings, a roll of old burlap, large needles and some colourful yarn and thread.  A perfect activity for kids who don’t have the energy to get off the couch but are bored and in need of something to do with their hands.

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Using burlap to teach kids embroidery is ideal because it’s so easy to get the needle and thread/yarn through the largely woven fabric and even possible to reverse if a mistake is made.  And the contrast of the earthy textured brown material with brightly coloured thread  is absolutely lovely.  One little piece of advice would be to always zigzag the edges of the burlap beforehand to reduce fraying.

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I quickly showed the kids the basics of embroidery and then left them to create whatever pattern came to mind.  We all sat around the living room with the fire blazing and listening to classical music playing in the background.  So cozy and slightly Little House on the Prairie-ish.

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After the designs were done we made them into little miniature pillows using different coloured velvets for the back.  The kids are so proud of their creations.  Their mama as well.

 

Folkabilly Apron #3

29 Jan

And another folkabilly apron has been made!  As some of you may remember, last year I received a stack of vintage apron patterns from my grandmother and I have a goal to slowly make them all.   This is the third pattern I’ve tried (others are here and here).  These patterns are relatively easy to follow and have the bonus of having all the pattern pieces pre-cut (amazing how much time that saves!).

This is a really pretty half-apron that is actually really flattering when on.   My sewing group and I decided to sew the red version seen on the pattern envelope below.

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The pattern involves some patchwork, rickrack, bias edging and a shaped high waistband.  So feminine and pretty.
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I used some cotton fabric my mother had brought me in the fall and the floral/stripe combination ended up matching beautifully.

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If I had had more rickrack on hand I would have included at least two more rows of it. You can never have too much rickrack on a vintage apron my friends.

1-IMG_5653I’m going to send this apron to my grandmother who just turned 91 years old.  She may not cook too much anymore but I think she will appreciate it just the same.

Bag Lady

13 Dec

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Bag Lady…that’s me.  I have a thing for purses, sacks, bags and wallets of any kind and apparently I was born this way.  My mother tells me that when I was a little girl I had a mountain of purses that were filled with bags that were filled with wallets.  And I can honestly tell you that it is still the case and that I have one daughter who seems to have inherited the same fixation (better than booze or drugs, no?).

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 Last week I finished up sewing my first messenger bag.  It involved a pattern of approximately 30 different pieces in three different materials (not including the interfacing).  It took me over three hours to just cut it all out!  The bag is completely reversible and has 8 pockets.  I used a polka dotted linen that I bought in Japan last spring for one side and a striped canvas from Max Mara for the other side.  It’s gorgeous. 1-IMG_4633Considering I put 6 hours into making this messenger bag I’m not sure how many I’ll be sewing up in the future.  Here is a great tutorial for a simpler version of a similar messenger bag (without pockets).

1-IMG_4627Now off to wrap it up for my fellow bag-loving daughter.  I think she’ll be able to fit at least 6 more bags inside this one.

ps…I’m over on the wonderful Tasmanian blog The Brothers Trimm talking about Christmas traditions…go take a peek!

Smock

8 Nov

Today I sewed the most adorable little smock in the world.  So adorable it actually had me contemplating having a 4th child just so that I would have someone to wear it.  Little kid’s clothing is so sweet and small and gives me pain in my heart that my little ones have grown so long and lanky.  It’s true what all those boring adults said to us as kids about time passing so quickly (while pinching our cheeks).  I mean, it’s November folks.  November!  Sinterklaas (very important day for every Dutch speaking kid on December 6th) and Christmas are just around the corner.  Which means 2013 is upon our heels as well.  Deep breath.

So as I was saying before having that little panic attack, I made a gorgeous little smock from an easy Danish pattern my friend found in Denmark (it helps my other friend is an amazing seamstress and teacher and managed to figure out the pattern even if it was in a foreign language).

I used a beautiful fabric from Petit Pan and some great polka dot bias that I found at an Amsterdam market a few weeks back.  Unfortunately I was short a bit so I had to use some yellow bias for the neckline and armholes but in the end I like all the different colours.

I added a little polka dotted pocket at the front so that the little one can store all of their favorite treasures found on their path.  Emptying my kids pockets is one of my favorite things to do.  The things you find tell so much about their day and their personalities.  There’s actually an amazing initiative by some Dutch ladies that revolve around taking photos of zakschatten (pocket treasures).  Pop over here to read all about it and see some great photos of kid’s pocket treasures.

I’m going to be honest.  I would put my kid in this as a real dress with a shirt and leggings underneath.  It’s too sweet to be just a smock.  You’ve got to love the Danish design and French fabric combination.  Now off to make 10 more of these!

Sew Japanese

17 Oct

A few months ago I received some lovely Japanese sewing  books in the mail.  I’ve been admiring them for ages and I’ve finally made my first pattern from one of them.  This pattern is from the book Simple Modern Sewing by Shofu To Seikatsu Sha.  This is a great book that offers 25 different garments (including pattern pieces).

My Tuesday morning sewing group and I decided to start by making this lovely little sleeveless blouse with ruffle neck.  In the book it’s pictured in black linen but I opted for this very lightweight Max Mara cotton.

The original pattern has the ruffle going around the front and the back of the neckline but I opted to attach it only at the front.  For me a little ruffle goes a long way.

One of the main things that I noticed about Japanese patterns is how different they fit than the average “western” pattern.  They design much more loose-fitting and shapeless garments and I love how they look on the Japanese models in the books. For me personally I tend to look better in more fitted styles so I took this blouse in on the sides to give it a bit more shape.

I think a pattern like this is great because you can make it in so many different ways.  You can make it longer, shorter, with ruffle, without ruffle and change it drastically just be using a different fabric.  In the book there is also the option to make this particular blouse in three different ways: sleeveless (like the one I made) with cap sleeves or with butterfly sleeves.

So now all I need is some hot summer weather so I can wear this pretty summer blouse.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a while…

Folkabilly Apron #2

3 Oct

Last year I received some really beautiful vintage apron patterns from my mother who had inherited them from her mother.  I think they are from the 50’s and 60’s and I have a (long term) goal to make as many as I can.  Last year I wrote a post about an apron I made from the collection and it turned out to be very folkabilly (cross between happy homemaker from the 50′s, a folksy peasant lady and rockabilly).  In the end this latest one, in my opinion, turned out pretty folkabilly as well.

It seems like the type of apron one of the ladies from this amazing festa would wear.  Seriously, all those gorgeous people in the photographs look so unbearably cool.  I want to be them.

So my sewing group and I decided we’d kick off the year by making one of the vintage aprons.  We thought it would be a quick and easy starter project.  We decided on the pattern with the handkerchief skirt (bottom row, 2nd from left, red and white apron).  In the end it wasn’t a one morning project.  With all the bias and fancy edgings etc it took a lot more time than we thought.

Very pretty on the mannequin.  Pretty ridiculous looking on me.  From the pattern you can tell women had very different shapes back in those days.  Tiny weeny little waists and a full bosom.  Wow, I just used the word bosom on my blog for the first time.

I can just imagine a good 50’s housewife greeting the man of the house after a long hard day of work in this apron.  Maybe with a drink and the newspaper as well.  Oh my poor husband and the fact this scenario will never happen under my roof.

The back view of the apron.  Very fancy.  And difficult to put on.  There were obviously no housewives wearing sweatpants and crocs back in the 50’s my friends.  And that was a good thing.

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