Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's My Party and I'll dress like my daughter if I want to!

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Do you remember when 30 seemed OLD?  I do.

But I didn't want my 30th to be sad & depressing.  My life is wonderful and so blessed, and I wanted to celebrate 30 fantastic years.

In fact, I decided to celebrate the BIG 30 with a party.  A huge party.  We rented a gorgeous house in Port Douglas and invited friends & family from all over the world.  

And my daughter's 1st birthday is 2 weeks after mine, so we joined forces and celebrated our births on the same day.

Of course, Cate & I needed something to wear to our party.  A friend gave me this dress that was too small for her:

I saw it and thought, "That's it!  I'll refashion matching dresses for me & Cate!"  I used to think that parents that dressed like their kids was weird (probably around the same time I thought 30 was old), but now that I have a little girl, I thought I'd embrace the weirdness and aim for cuteness.  

And it's my party and I'll do what I want to, right?

This dress had a seam about knee-length.  I simply unpicked the stitches, and put the top piece - my dress - aside while I made Cate's dress.

First for Cate's little dress:

Find a dress that fits and lay it on the material to gauge the shape to cut it.  I used this cute red striped dress as a pattern.  Note there is a frill on the bottom, and I want to use that again.  Here you can see I flared the red dress out so get that cute girly shape.

Turn the fabric inside out, fold it in half (to make symmetrical front & back) and, using chalk, draw a straight line from the shoulder to the bottom of the frill.

 Cut arm holes (again, chalk is great!  I use chalk from my son's chalk board.  I've heard of specific sewing chalk, but I'm not sure what it is...??).  Again, make sure the fabric is folded so your dress is symmetrical.

Turn the arm holes under and stitch.  I love zig zag stitch and use it all the time.  It gives the clothing character, I reckon.

Fold the back over twice towards the inside of the dress.  Leave enough gap for the shoulder ties.
Don't forget your clothing tag...
Repeat for the front.

I need straps to thread through the front & back for the shoulder ties.  I cut off a 2' thick strip from the extra fabric and, using my bias tape maker, I ironed & sewed 2 fabric ties.  Use a safety pin to thread through the holes on the front & back.

Cate's dress is done!

And for mine...
The only thing I had to do was add a matching ruffle on the bottom edge.  I thought about tailoring the dress to make it more fitted, but I don't know how to do that, so I'll just stick with the ruffle.

Using a straight edge & rotary cutter, cut 2 strips of fabric from the extra piece (leftover from the baby dress off-cut).  Sew them right-sides together.
Measure the length of the bottom of the dress.  As you can see, mine was approx 27 inches or 69 cm.  But remember this is only the front!... so I need a ruffle length of at least 54 inches or 138cm.

The standard rule of thumb for a ruffle is 2.5x longer than the main piece, but Cate's ruffle wasn't too ruffled and I wanted them to match.  I went for 1.5x the length of the fabric (54 inches x 1.5 = 81 inches, or 207 cm).
I sewed a looong straight stitch on the 'ruffle' piece and slightly pulled on the bobbin thread, gathering the fabric to form a ruffle.
So now I had a long ruffle piece and my dress.
I first thought I'd pin it all together, but I was afraid it would shift around and I'd get an uneven ruffle.
So, I took the pins out and started sewing at one end, matching the end with the side seam of the dress.
If you can, try to sew below the looooong straight stitch you did earlier because I'm going to remove it.
Sew slowly.

And press with an iron.  An iron is your best friend - it makes everything look neat & tidy.

And that's it.

The party was fantastic and I LOVED that people loved our matching dresses!  "What a great idea!", they exclaimed.  Yes, I know, thank you!

Mother & daughter matching dresses: (that's the real color of the skies - no photoshopping, I promise!)

 Sweet baby girl
 I loved our cakes!  My friend Justine made them: a pink 30 and a teddy bear.  The other kids are drooling  patiently waiting for their slice of cake.
 My family (anyone else have a hard time getting a good shot of ALL the people in the photo at the same time???  No?  Just me?)

The love of my life, Jesse.  He's a wonderful husband, father, and BBQ master:

I love the time of night when the kids are in bed & we can relax...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Patchwork Stocking from Scraps via Crazy Quilt method

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One of my favorite memories of Christmas as a child is going through the stockings that Santa left for us.  And now, as a mother with 2 small kids, I've enjoyed buying little 'stocking stuffers' for them that I know they'll love.

Only problem: I don't have stockings for them!

And I refuse to buy them.  Surely they're not that difficult to make?  I'm a new sewer, but I've realized that making things is much easier than I always thought.  (BTW, there are some great youtube videos for stockings - heaps of styles & techniques.  This one works best for me because it's easy.)

So I had a look through my fabric stash and had all kinds of holiday designs: red & white stripes, green & red plaid, red & white snowflakes... but I live in the tropics and didn't really want to do a 'cliche' red/white/green design.  I mean, there's no chance we're having a white Christmas in north Queensland.

Then I thought, "Why not make a non-typical colorful stocking?"


I made my daughter a quilt earlier this year (my first sewing project & inspiration to buy my own sewing machine!), and I had some scraps left over from it.  

I read about 'crazy quilting', and thought I'd give it a go.

Start with a 6-sided piece of fabric.

Get another piece and line it up with one of the edges.  Sew them right sides together, and using a straight-edge, cut off the excess material.

It should look like this:

Keep doing this with your scraps, and check your stocking template (I made one from newspaper) for size.

Keep going...

It's getting closer!

When you're all done with the sewing, pin the stocking front to the template and cut around it to get the stocking shape.  HINT: It's easier to have your pieces overhang the template & trim them to shape rather than forming them to the stocking.

*Optional: If you're going to embellish your stocking, do it now.  I didn't embellish mine, but maybe you want to add buttons, ribbon, embroidery, etc.  Do it now before you start putting pieces together.

Using another bit of scrap, cut out the stocking back.  I had a white cotton shirt that was perfect.

Sew the front & the back together, right sides together.  Trim the corners (little fringes) so that the stocking will lay nice & flat.  Leave the top open (don't stitch the top closed).

Now you're going to attach the part used for hanging the stocking (hanging tab?).  Using ribbon, or scrap fabric, or whatever, sew it to the front of the stocking on the seam of the front/back, sewing it as close to the top as possible.  Make sure it's facing DOWN, as pictured. 

Again, the stocking is right side out.  Set aside for now.

Stocking lining: This is not optional.  Not only does the lining make the stocking look & hang nicer, it also allows you to hide the seams.  If you have a better way, please let me know :)

Again, using scrap (I used a XXL mens dress shirt), cut out 2 sides & sew them together, right sides facing.  And make sure you cut the edges on the lining, too.

***Very important!*** Do not sew all around the lining.  Leave the top open AND leave 4-6 inches opening on one of the sides.  This is to flip it all through at the end!  Trust me... I forgot this and had to unstitch.

So now you have the outer stocking turned right-sides out.  And you have the lining turned inside-out.

Stuff the OUTSIDE stocking inside the lining, making sure the toes face the same direction.  Sew around the top about 1/4 inch or so.

From the opening in the lining, flip the lining right side out.  Sew the opening closed, and stuff the lining into the outside stocking piece.

Hooray, you're finished!

Hang it up,

And admire your finished stocking.  Like I said - it's easy!  Now i just have to do a few more....

Parents blogs

Boka Hotell

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to transform adult shorts to kid shorts

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A friend gave me her too-big shorts when she heard I sew.  (This seems to happen a lot.  People give me their clothes they don't want anymore - and I'm grateful!)

They were in great condition except the elastic waist was stretched out.

I didn't really know what to do with them...

And then I wondered: could I cut them up & re-sew them into shorts for my 2 year old son???

I loved the plaid, and they had 2 front pockets & a back pocket, which my son would love.  I thought I could easily put some elastic in the waist (some elastic that wasn't too stretched).  In my head, it was perfect.

Plus, I rarely find something cool to make for my boy.

So I cut the shorts into 4 pieces along the seams & cut off the elastic waist.

I used a pair of shorts that fit my son, and traced around them to get the pattern for the new shorts.  I lined up the existing hems on the bottom, and made sure I used the front/front and back/back pieces so I'd have 2 front & 1 back pocket on the new shorts, too.

Cut out your 4 pieces (2 front legs, 2 back legs), and sew them together.  Fold the top down and insert elastic.  Sew.

And you're done!

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.  I used to be intimidated by shorts - they seemed so difficult to make! - but in reality they are very easy.  These were especially easy since the pockets were already made.  

And best of all, my little man LOVED his shorts.

Have you done this before??  I'd love to hear what you think about this refashion project!