Sunday, June 30, 2013


My boys both have birthdays in June within 8 days of each other. While we have always combined their parties into one, I do make each boy his own cake. The rule for birthday cakes is that I have to be able to find a cake pan for whatever they're wanting. We have had a fire engine, Lightning McQueen, a puppy, a pirate ship, an octopus (!), a guitar, and a Darth Vader head. This year Daniel rather randomly chose Bugs Bunny (he's not a big Loony Tunes watcher) and Nathan chose a golf bag because he's going to golf camp this summer and is excited about it.

I know Bugs is suppose to be light gray. It was late when I was mixing the frosting with the gel food coloring and I accidentally put in too much. I thought it would lighten up when it set but nope. Nobody cared. My star frosting tip got bent out of shape by the time I got to the insides of the ears so they look rather messy close up. Nobody cared about that either.

I had to run to the cake supply store the morning of the party to get a new tip and my sister kindly helped me finish frosting this one as our other few guests arrived. Nathan turned nine and Daniel turned seven. They were both excited about their cakes even though Nathan looks rather annoyed in the picture below. He's my introvert and doesn't much care for the spotlight and being sung to. Daniel's face is priceless. He loves me so much.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Simplicity 2314 - Black & white bias lace skirt

I have wanted to try this type of chevron effect for several years. Stripes are fun to be creative with but sometimes challenging to sew. This wavy lace from Mood Fabrics wasn't difficult at all, though, because it's a medium weight and kept its shape when sewn in bias form. It also had the cutest wavy black edges that I wasn't able to use for this garment.

The pattern I used had straight grain arrows on the paper, so first I had to draw in the bias grainline that I wanted. I did that with a drafting triangle left over from a college blueprint class. Then I determined where I wanted my center front - in the middle of one of the black zigs - and lined up my newly drawn grainline. I didn't want any tiny bits of black or white to show up in the corners. After the first piece was cut I flipped it over and used it to cut a mirror piece for the other side. I cut my back pieces the same way, being careful to start the center back in the same spot as the center front. The sides match up horizontally but not completely vertically because the side seams are at a slight angle.

Obviously, being lace, I had to have some sort of lining or underlining. Fortuitously, I happened to lay the lace over a beige skirt I needed to iron on my ironing board. Black, white and beige go together so nicely and it doesn't distract from the skirt design. I used a thin cotton blend bought locally and cut it out using the original straight grainlines printed on the pattern. All the lace pieces were underlined before being stitched together.

I had intended to use an underlined piece of lace for the waistband as well, but none of the lines matched up and I didn't like the effect. Instead I used a piece of 2" petersham grosgrain ribbon from my stash. It was stitched along the bottom of the ribbon to the inside of the skirt, then folded over and carefully stitched to the outside along the same row of stitching.

I chose not to line this skirt and finished all the seams with my overlocking foot. The black tab of my invisible zipper disappears into the black of the lace at the top side seam. For the hem, I cut facings from the beige underlining. Since I needed to attach the hem by hand in order to not catch the outer lace, I used hem lace at the edge of the facing and whip stitched. I find my whip stitching always looks nicer with hem lace.

Here are a few more dressform pictures of the front, side and back:

I used Simplicity 2314 for this project. This is a simple pattern with a waistband, which pattern companies strangely don't seem to include on most skirt patterns.

I like my new skirt a lot! Black and white is very trendy right now, but it's also a classic color combination. I have a large remnant left over so you might just this fabric again soon!

Photo bomb!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vogue 1233 - White + silver Pamella Roland shirtdress

It has been a busy month around here with little time to sew. I feel like I have been working on this dress forever! (Really it's been about 4 weeks.) Now that it is finally done I am thrilled with the outcome:

This pattern came out in 2011. I loved the oversized bias collar, the shirtdress styling, the pockets and little cap sleeves. I bought the perfect fabric online and then plopped it and the pattern into one of my many project bins and sewed something else. I don't know why I do this so often. Maybe I'm scared of ruining my perfect fabric or I don't want to make something very challenging. Whatever the cause, I am working on sewing some of those long-planned garments this summer, and this was the first up.

I cut my normal size 10 up top, tapering to a 12 for the waist and hips. Boy was that muslin tight!!! The pattern has 35" for the size 10 bust printed on pattern piece 1, but there is no way that is accurate. Probably it would have been a good idea to flat measure it with a tape measure but I almost never do that. At least I made a muslin to iron out the fit issues! Anyway, after I added 1" to the bust and 1.5" to the waist, the fit was excellent. (Although after viewing these pictures I probably could have added a bit more to the back waist.)

A review for this pattern on sighted that the lower dress placket opened up when the wearer sat down. I did not want this to happen in my dress, so I continued the buttons down the dress and omitted the hidden buttons. Speaking of buttons, I had THE HARDEST TIME finding any that worked with this fabric. The only ones I could find locally were either extremely cheap looking or the wrong shade of silver. I finally decided to order 3 different silver buttons from Mood fabrics, then settled on these you see here and got them with my June Mood money. I sewed them on with gray thread and used thread shanks to help the fabric lie flatter.

This fabric is a silk and linen blend with silver threads running throughout. The large collar is a fun design feature and helps to even out my small upper torso.

I almost didn't put these pockets on because I was worried they might make my bottom half look wide. However, this dress looked really plain without the pockets so I went ahead and sewed them on. The proportion seems to work because the skirt has some width to it.

Dressform pictures:

When I tried this on and sat down, areas between the buttons jutted out in an unflattering manner. I added 3 waistband closures to combat this, which you can just see in the picture below.  And just in case you were wondering, the second button from the top is not buttoned because my dressform is now slightly bustier then I am. When my daughter weaned herself at 10 months of age, I sadly became even smaller in that area then I was before I was pregnant with her.

I used ivory Ambiance that I had in my stash for the lining.

The directions for installing the sleeves with the lining did not make much sense to me. I simply stitched them to the dress fully lined, then used bias tape to finish off the edges, and only had to do a tiny bit of slip-stitching around the top of the sleeve where I couldn't get the machine.

The directions have you slip-stitching the bottom of the lining to the dress hem like you would a jacket lining. This made my outer fabric pool at the hemline. After ripping that all out, I hemmed the lining with a small 5/8" double folded hem and left it to hang freely from the dress hem. Can you believe neither of my local fabric stores carry any ivory hem tape?! I had to go looking amongst all the laces to find anything appropriate for a pretty hem finish.

This pattern is a Pamella Rolland design from her Spring 2010 collection, which you can view here if interested. It is a unique dress and a fun addition to my wardrobe.

Vogue 1233