Monday, January 30, 2017

Sewing is my passion

I love creative challenges. Sewing was my passion for about three years until my youngest came along and time became very scarce. But every once in a while I'll get so inspired by a design that I'll carve out time and start sewing.
This was one of those rare times.

I came across a brand new pattern by an amazing designer behind E&E Patterns. 
I rushed to the local library, got the pattern printed and started working on it right away. 
When I began trimming, folding and taping pattern pieces together, I almost hurt my brain while figuring out where each page was supposed to go and how to align lines and curves that didn’t want to be aligned. Turned out it was not the fault of the pattern. 

To my horror, I realized that I was missing a set of pages and to further complicate the process, the prehistoric Adobe Acrobat that was installed on the library computer where I had printed out my copy, had decided to omit some of the much-needed lines illustrating the width of the sleeves and side panels. So, there I was, staring at my pattern, which resembled a large jigsaw puzzle with some pieces that had faded away and some pieces that were lost altogether, and realizing the hopelessness of the situation. 

Deciding on the right fabric was not an easy task either. While I had one specific plaid wool blend in mind, I couldn’t find it for the life of me. So, I had to settle for a sweatshirt fleece. I’ve once learned that fleece requires a certain type of needle, but it had been too long to remember which one, and even if I did, I doubt I’d be able to find it in my stash. 
To make things even more devastating, once I laid out this incomplete pattern  onto this second-choice fabric, I came into realization that I had merely enough material for ¾ of the dress. 
I’m guessing most people would have given up at this point.

But I am not ‘the most people’ when it comes to creative challenges. 
Situations like this get my creative juices flowing. 
At that decisive moment, I felt rush of adrenaline in my body, as if energy was pumped into my veins, my brain went faster and faster until every worry or thought in my head was muted, and all that mattered was my mission to design a gorgeous little dress.

The dress fits my oldest like a glove. 
It's got my favorite princess cut bodice and interesting godets in the skirt. 

I was so inspired, I couldn't resist adding lots of details and twists that are not part of the original pattern. My daughter loves her new dress and I couldn't be happier!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Project Run & Play: Season 10, Week 2 - "Hand-me-down"

I started with two beautiful fabrics from two very ugly button-down shirt. 
I have a dress in mind, which I want to create based on Caroline Party Dress pattern, but first I wanted to see the fit. So this little number was created. 

The top part is exactly according to the pattern 
(size 3T measurements turned out just right for my 4 year old). 
The skirt is much shorter and much narrower with gathers at the side and back. 
At the top of the gathers I attached patent leather straps with buckles reporposed from old flip flops!

Underneath the dress is a little blouse (Burda 9/12, Mod. 150; size 104/4T that fit very well). 

And here is the before:

And after:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Project Run & Play Finalist!

OK, not a final finalist, but a finalist for a spot in the next season's group of designers! Pretty exciting, but if I'm  actually going to be voted in then that will be a true adventure!

Vote here:

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Matinée Dress and Peplum Top Pattern Tour

My definition of happiness:
--- this little girl - in a gorgeous little dress - playing with the waves - so happy & carefree ---

N's definition of happiness:
--- running, playing with the waves, jumping, being comfortable, running, playing in the sand, jumping ---

Shooting these photos has been pure happiness for both of us.

So many 'first-times' in this post: 
first time photographing this spectacular scenery, first time participating in a blog tour, 
first time presenting a dress that isn't hot off the sewing machine.... unbelievable!

I've been given an honor to participate in the Matinée Dress and Peplum Top Pattern Tour!
The pattern is designed by Jenn of A Jennuine Life & Jennuine Design Pattern Shop
Such a unique little dress!

But before I go into details of this pattern, a little side note is due:

This is the first time I'm officially reviewing and promoting a pattern online.
I'm a self taught sewist (I've noticed this is a word now, so I'm gonna go ahead and use it). 
I started to sew when my daughter was born and have learned everything I know from store bought patterns and online tutorials. There are no words for how much appreciation I have for those people who spend time and effort to create tutorials and provide advice to all of us for free. 

I don't self-indulge myself on lots of patterns, but whenever I do, I want to be sure it will produce a  well fitted garment. So I search for reviews. And for the most part, these reviews, especially the ones with photos, provide insightful feedback as well as inspiration. 

However, it is hart to not notice that overwhelming number of pattern reviews out there are mere appraisals. Very seldom, if at all, I've found reviews that point out flaws and problems of a pattern. Problems with instructions are easy to bury, but flaws with the fit - not so much. So when I see an obviously ill-fitted garment with the caption of a gushing praise, it saddens me.

So I plan to be honest and sincere about my experiences with any pattern I review, and I hope my feedback will be useful for the sewists just like me who depend on online reviews to make up their minds about purchasing a pattern.

Phew.... wasn't so 'little' after all... now back to the business!

 I absolutely love the silhouette of Matinée dress. It is so different from most other little girl dress patterns. 
N has lost her toddler belly not too long ago, so the fitted dropped waist looks adorable on her.
However, if I was sewing this same pattern last year, when she was wider at her belly, I would have thought twice.. and if I did go ahead with the pattern, I'd try the looser fit for sure.

If you look at my other sewing projects, you'll notice that I love a fitted garment vs. a loose or over-sized one, even if it means she'll wear it only during one season. But one problem I've noticed with the patterns I've drafted myself before and now with Matinée as well, is that when a bodice is fitted, it will often bunch up at the chest when she's sitting and wiggling a lot. I wonder what could be the reason and if that could be avoided without compromising the fitted part.
Either way, if that's the price I have to pay for a fitted garment... I'm ready to do so.

Matinée Dress passed many tests N has put it through – building sand castles, rolling on the beach, blowing out birthday candles, and posing for birthday photos. 
I’m happy to announce that this dress is as comfortable as it is gorgeous!

For this project, I upcycled my own dress that I never wore.
I loved the fabric and thought it would go nicely with Matinée.

I knew I wanted two layers of ruffles, yet I was limited in terms of fabric, so I made it quite short.
And I love it! I love this proportion of skirt in relation to the bodice. Personally, I LOVE short skirts on little girls and this is no exception. It looks absolutely adorable on the beach over some bloomers.

I adjusted the width of the shoulder when cutting my fabric, I probably subtracted 
about an inch at the top but left the underarm part intact.
But enough about shoulders and skirts, the best part about this dress is the back!

For this version, I raised the scoop by 6 inches mostly because I had fallen in love with the very first Matinée (see here; also featured on the pattern cover) and it seemed to me the scoop was shorter on that one (Jenn explained that the overall torso length on that version may have been a little shorter). 
For closure, I used three snaps instead of two buttons.
Instead of a sash, I added two bows that hide two additional snaps inside the loops (in other words, there is no tying necessary). 
Quite ingenious, if i may say so myself... I felt pretty proud when I came up with this closure!

  N is a slim and tall 4 year old.
Her measurements placed her in two different sizes: 2T width and 4T length.
I followed the recommendations and blended these two sizes easily; the fit turned out perfect.

Instructions were very clear, yet the best part was the graphic illustrations (vs. photographs) with all their simplicity and clarity. I wish more patterns were this way. 
And you should see the dress from inside out - it is just as clean and pretty!

N has worn this dress a lot already, and I know it will be loved dearly throughout this summer.

Finally, I wanted to show the versatility of my Matinée by pairing it with leggings. 
I think it looks just as adorable!

Be sure to check out other participants of the pattern tour to see some amazing versions of
Matinée Dress and Peplum Top Pattern!

If you want to sew your own Matinée, you need to grab the pattern here now, because Jenn is having a 20% off sale during the tour with the code "matineetour20".

And more good news! 
You have a chance to enter and win some amazing prizes, just use the raffle copter below!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Project Run & Play: Season 9, Week 4 - Signature Style

Signature Style Challenge is definitely my favorite.
(Here is a description of my style from last year.)
I try to tackle the most challenging sewing projects during this week. 
But this time it almost turned out to be MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - Almost!

 I started sketching and drafting this trench 4 or 5 weeks ago. 
Wow, this was a labor of love (and hate)!

If I was gonna draft and sew the whole trench coat, it had to be a real deal, 
nothing short of an adult Burberry trench :)

When I started searching for the fabric, I didn't find anything that I liked in the local stores. 
So I had to improvise. 
I hit the thrift store and got so lucky when I found a man's large trench in an excellent condition. 
I cut it up into fabric pieces. I thought I'd have enough for two 3T coats, but boy was I wrong.
I had to get really creative to accommodate all my pattern pieces.

Almost every seam has four lines of stitching 
(initial straight stitch, zig-zag seam finishing, and two top stitching). 

I started with a generic dress pattern to copy basic proportions of the bodice and then really went to town...
I created double-breasted front, princess seams, two-panel sleeves, linings, facings, gun flap, storm flap, wrist straps, shoulder tabs, belt loops (at the waist, arms and shoulders), collar stand, collar, belt, 
bound button-holes and what not....

I so hate my button hole maker foot, I was excited to try the bound button holes out. 
I'm very happy with the final result, but it was so much work!

I had to find 15 matching buttons, which turned out to be impossible. 
I bought what they had and thought I'd improvise. Luckily, it took me so long to finish this coat, my local store refilled its stock of these buttons, so I got missing buttons at the last minute!

 I wanted to add unique design elements to the classic trench, 
so I drafted the storm flap and pocket flap with interesting pleat details and added buttons at the center.

 I embroidered a little message & my logo onto the facing. 
I made sure to add strong loop for hanging the coat. 

It took me many hours of internet research and browsing through some odd patterns I own to figure out the lining+facing the way I wanted. LOVE the result!

I tied the belt at the back since it's much flattering that way on little kids.

I LOVE THE FIT of this TRENCH! Don't you agree it's spot on?!!

 OK, I think sewing an elaborate trench coat is worth a three piece outfit, but still, I couldn't help myself to create at least another piece for the look. After all, it is Project Run & Play Signature Style Week!

So I made a nice summer tunic. 

This is basically the same self-drafted pattern as the last year's signature style dress.
I elongated the bodice with its princess seams. Added length only to the inner side of the side panel and gathered at the shoulders for a new look. 

I added a mini pompom trim at the gathered shoulders and a twill tape to tie at the back.
The tunic closes at the back with a single snap fastener.

 And that's it.
Can't wait for the next season of Project Run and Play!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Project Run & Play: Season 9, Week 2 - Spring Break

I've thought about this week's look for weeks.
I had everything decided in my head and even sketched the designs in my notebook.
However it took me forever to finalize all the items and had to post a rough photo of the outfit at the very last minute to make the deadline.

Good news is that I kept my promise and was able to photograph the outfit at the daylight 
and here they are!

I've been dreaming about Key West, Florida vacation and
imagining all the beautiful sea creatures I'd see when scuba diving over natural coral reef formations.
These thoughts brought me to my inspiration for the today's look - coral reefs!

I love the colors of the sea creatures swimming over the coral reefs;
I love all the intricate shapes one can find under water.
Still, when it comes to the garments, I tend to levitate towards solid and understated pallets.
So when I found this beautiful coral color cotton (in Joann's!), which has coral shaped sheerness, I knew I had hit the jackpot!

My plan was to create outfit suitable for the trip to the beach. 
First, I drafted this simple silhouette swim suit cover up. It's such an easy pattern (a rectangle with neck opening and stitching lines to separate bodice and sleeves.

At the waist, I added buttonholes and created a simple fabric belt with crocheted coral-like details.
I just love mint and coral together!!

The neckline is definitely my favorite part of this tunic. 
The neck opening as well as the slit at the front are trimmed with continues ruffle piece and bound with a bias tape. It closes with a small clip hidden by the cute little bow.

The sun hat was inspired by ruffly cabbage coral. 
I used his adorable FREE tulip sun hat pattern & tutorial and added width and length to the petals making the hat more ruffly. I attached more crocheted coral, shells and star fish to match it to my concept for the week! 
This hat will serve so well during sunny summer days... if they every come!...

Next on the list was a new swim suit for my almost 4 year old. 

She is learning to swim and often wears a training vest in the swimming pool. 
With these vests, a rush guard is a must, otherwise delicate skin gets rubbed against the vest.
So I made her a rush guard with a twist  - a peter pan collar.
(The pattern is an adaptation of McCall's 6393)

For the bikini, I flipped a simple pattern to include cute little ruffles at the sides 
(The initial pattern is McCall's 6729 - highly recommend! I did go up a size for a little more roomier fit.)

The fit of both of these pieces is pretty spot on!
I get nervous when attaching elastic to the swimwear leg/waist openings, because it stretches so much.
But I had nothing to fear here!

Phew... I'm sooo glad I made it this week.
I had grand plans for the next week, but I double I have enough time...
So maybe I should start on the Week 4 instead.... We'll see if that happens!