Friday, March 20, 2015

She Stitches Snappy Stuff

Blue Eyes got a sewing machine for Christmas (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!). This one, in fact. I love that it's a real sewing machine and not a toy. She loves it because it's Hello Kitty and is of the opinion that there's pretty much nothing better than that. Six year olds are awesome.
Diligently working on her very first project
Two projects have now been sewn with it. Blue Eyes first made a drawstring backpack that she gave away as a birthday gift for a neighbor. The second was a dress for this month's Project Run & Play

The drawstring backpack
The pattern for this month is the Knot Dress from Jess at The Sewing Rabbit. I decided to keep the pattern mostly the same because this was only the second sewing project ever for Miss Blue Eyes. I had previously purchased some Hello Kitty fabric so that was definitely the material of choice.

Red + Hello Kitty = a very happy Blue Eyes
Because she was the one who did most of the sewing, I'll let Blue Eyes say a few things about her dress.

I like Hello Kitty. This is my favorite dress and I made some of it. My favorite thing about sewing it was when my mom helped me with the twists and turns.

Aaaaaand that was all I could get out of her. Blue Eyes is six years old and not big on sharing much if she doesn't feel like it.

Back view
As for the changes that were made, I closed the back, traded the knots on the bodice for snaps, included a band at the waist, and just used the width of the material for the skirt rather than measuring panels.
The heart snaps are super fun. Just in case you were wondering
I was very proud of Blue Eyes for getting through the stitching of the top of the bodice with all the curves that went into making the straps. There were some pretty tight curves with the straps. I had to stop her quite a few times to help her get the seam allowances even.

Two snaps per strap to keep everything nicely in place Those curves really were deadly.
Blue Eyes stitched the side and back seams on the skirt, as well as the side seams and neckline of the bodice.  I can't say enough how impressed I am that she did such a good job attaching the lining at the neckline. She rocked it! I aided the project by doing the understitching, attaching skirt to bodice, and hemming. Blue Eyes would have done the hemming if I had not put the dress on the back burner for over a week before remembering the Project Run & Play deadline was looming. The final touch was adding the iconic bow.

I added fleece interfacing to the bow for extra puffiness
While I was pleased with how well Blue Eyes did with her dress, I'm thinking her next project will be sewing quilt squares together to make a pillow or a lap quilt. That was how I learned and it helps a lot with getting used to making completely even seam allowances.
She was more interested in playing on the tablet than posing for pictures
I think Blue Eyes has a great sewing future ahead of her. I'm so happy we can share this. The trick for me is trying not to hover and correct every stitch. She's doing great.

Rocking her dress and her new glasses

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Emily Culottes Blog Tour and Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to see my phone telling me there was a call to pattern test the Emily Culottes from Itch-to-Stitch patterns. Before doing the testing I was unaware that culottes are making a comeback. That may have been the best news I've gotten this year. Culottes give the coverage I appreciate from capris with the added bonus of the fullness for comfort and air flow. Even better was that I immediately knew which fabric I would use. I got some lovely eyelet for 75% off then hated every idea I had for what to do with it. The culottes were a perfect project.

The pattern comes with plenty of options for whatever makes you happy. I opted for the welt pockets and lining to eliminate the peekaboo factor of the eyelet. I already had some knit fabric for the lining that matched beautifully.

My lighting is off...which is to be expected I use my phone for pictures. Which is always.
Working with the Emily Culottes pattern was a pleasure. Several digital patterns I have used in the past left something to be desired. I didn't feel this way about the Emily Culottes. Not even a little. The pattern is sized well, the instructions are clear, and the sewing techniques are professional. I was very impressed with the quality of the pattern. It was plain to see that a lot of care and skill went into its creation. Coming from me, that's saying a lot.
I always lean against the wall on my porch; don't you?
One portion of the patterns that is pretty great is the welt pockets. The welt pocket instructions were different than I had used before, but every bit as effective. I was able to squeak out just enough fabric from the unembroidered selvage edge to make the welt flaps. Pants without pockets are pretty useless to me so I was glad they were available. Patch pockets are also included in the pattern.

Some of the other options I used were the front pleat and lengthening the culottes. I added five inches to the length so they will be appropriate wherever I go. We're putting in our backyard this year and I look forward to going outside to play with the kids. With the culottes I'll be able to horse around with them while still looking pretty and keeping my underwear covered at all times. And that's to say nothing of the bike rides I have planned for our little family.

I love the drape and flow of the culottes. It's so feminine and comfortable.
I'm very happy with the way the culottes turned out. They are comfortable, cool, and pretty while allowing me all the movement I need as a mom of four. I already have another pair cut out in denim and just waiting for the serger to come back from a tune up. I'm fairly certain I'l be living in culottes this summer. And I'm okay with that.
I mention summer in the text yet I'm still standing in the snow. In my sandals.
Kennis from Itch-to-Stitch is giving away a copy of the Emily Culottes. Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! If you're not feeling particularly lucky or just want to get a jump start on your spring and summer wardrobe, the Emily Culottes are on sale for 20% off. Grab a copy, get sewing, and spend the summer wearing culottes. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recent Projects

I have a new obsession. I mentioned it briefly in my post about Pink Blur's new dress. It's the Girl Charlee KnitFix. You get six different fabrics in two yards cuts, all in a tote bag. And the fabrics are all a surprise. My fabric tastes are so specific that I wasn't interested in buying something I might never use. Then I discovered the KnitFix Facebook group and saw that people buy, sell, and trade their KnitFix fabrics there. So I went for it and bought two bags. I'm not sad. These are the bags I received.

The only fabric I kept from this one was the top middle. It's a rayon blend jersey. There were also two cotton/spandex fabrics, a ponte knit, a hacci sweater knit, and a french terry.

From this bag I kept the top left (Hubs wants a polo out of it), top right (Pink Blur's dress), and the bottom left. I either sold or traded all the others. I ended up getting an extra cut of the bottom left to made a cardigan for my brother's fiance and a baby hacci knit for myself. That one is a work in progress. The last I traded for was a large chevron ponte that I made into a maxi skirt. Rather than go into detail on each piece I'll just give the pattern and fabric under the picture.

This is a Simplicity pattern that is pretty far out of print. I used it once before here. I can't find the pattern number immediately but I'll post it later. I brought the sleeves in quite a bit from elbow to wrist.

This is the cardigan for my future sister in law. Her birthday is in a couple of weeks and this is her gift. The pattern is Butterick 5793 and the fabric is a boucle hacci sweater knit. I'd never worked with a sweater knit before, so that was a learning experience.

This is just a quick snapshot of the ponte maxi skirt. I almost didn't trade for it and now I'm so glad I did. It begged to be a maxi skirt and I used this tutorial from Miriam to make it. I love it.

That does it for the KnitFix fabrics thus far. I'm not receiving anything for talking about KnitFix (though I certainly wouldn't mind!), I just had a lot of fun with it. I'll be doing it again. Back to the fabrics, once the Hubs is done losing weight I will make him the polo shirt he wants. My own cardigan is sitting in my sewing machine box waiting to be finished. The pattern is apparently also out of print. I picked it up at JoAnn's rellocation sale when they were clearing out all their stuff rather than move it. $1.99 Vouge patterns? Yes, please! I bought...a lot.

This final picture is just another quick shot. Obviously, Video Game was not very pleased that I was taking a picture. Actually, it was just the tie. He screamed when I put it on him. The pattern is the Max & Matilda button-up bodysuit. Next time I make it I'm going to make the collar a size bigger around the neck and wide enough to cover his tie better. The fabric was just a plain woven white I had in my stash.

I have several other projects in the planning or construction phase. I was also thinking of doing a tutorial about working with sweater knits because those are a different beast altogether. And tomorrow I'll be part of a blog tour for a new pattern I recently tested, so come back again soon to see it. There will be a giveaway too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let's Talk Weight Loss

This is not the first time I've been in serious weight loss mode (see the Losing It page under the header) but it will hopefully be the last. No more babies will be adding pounds to me so that excuse is gone. It's all on me now, which is a little scary. I want to write about it in the hopes that I can be even more accountable and make better choices. Slipping up is so easy. And so delicious.

The picture above was taken the day after Thanksgiving 2014. Video Game was one month old. I expected to gain weight because I have always gained weight while nursing. This time around I've had enough breastmilk supply to keep the baby happy. That's a first. Anyway, I hoped to keep off as much weight as possible. After Video Game turned two months old the Hubs and I started on the Take Shape for Life program. He is doing their regular program and I'm doing on that's modified for nursing mothers. We started in conjunction with a five week health challenge. It went really well and I'm posting the before and afters.




In the five weeks I ended up losing 15 pounds and the Hubs lost 25. Pretty awesome, I think. But now that five weeks is over and we're two weeks past that. And I'm slipping a little. Right now I'm very close to being down 20 lbs since starting Take Shape for Life. I haven't gained anything back but it scares me that I might. I'm not being as careful about my eating as I should be. There's a lot going through my mind right now. Am I exercising too much for the amount of calories I'm eating? Am I really producing enough milk for Video Game? How do I strike the correct balance to be the best at this for the baby, myself, and my husband? 

I bring all this up on this blog here for several reasons. 1) Making it public should help keep me 2) Writing helps me work out my thoughts. 3) If I keep sewing stuff, the has to change with my changing body. 4) I plan on sewing things as my reward fr losing weight. Documenting it here will show my rewards for accomplishing my goals.

All of this is hard for me. I've lost a bit of my self control and it comes back in fits and starts when I hear someone compliment me on the weight loss. Now I guess the best I can do is to accept my strengths and my struggles and try to work with them. I don't love opening up about all this but I hope it will help me and/or someone else. So here goes.

I can do this. I've done it before.
The Hubs is doing this with me. Helping him also helps me.
The food is convenient. Remembering the cost should help me stay on plan.

Being home with the kids all day opens up a lot of possibility for eating things I shouldn't.
My brain and my body fight over who's in charge.
Part of me doesn't believe I'll get down to my goal, which I haven't clearly defined in the first place.

If anyone has any other thoughts or tips for me, feel free to share. I just finished eating several balls of frozen cookie dough so any help is good.