Ruffled Kyoko

Today is picture day at Miss L’s school, which meant I felt compelled to sew something for her to wear. As luck would have it, Sarah mentioned last week that she needed an updated Kyoko sample for the shop, so I decided to knock out both tasks with one dress.

I’ve sewn several of the Kyokos and the pattern continues to be one of my favorites. I love the style and fit, as does Liesl, which certainly helps things. Of course, having sewn it so many times, I wanted to see if I could mix things up a bit. I vaguely remembered seeing a version with ruffles and decided to try one myself.

The fabrics are a new line by Alexander Henry and actually weren’t the first choice. Initially, I’d pulled the same fabrics in a colorway that’s more “me” (aquas and pinks) but decided to go with more Fall colors instead. I can’ really explain why I did it but looking at the dress tells me I was right to make the switch (although I’ll probably grab some of the other fabrics to use for another outfit).

The bodice is lined and I skipped the neckline binding, instead adding a 1/4″ seam allowance and sewing the lining and exterior together. I understitched the lining to the seam allowance so no topstitching shows on the neckline.

I again skipped the binding on the hem and sleeve edges, replacing it with ruffles. Oh, how I love those ruffles! They were worth all the math and measuring to figure them out. The ruffles are finished with a rolled hem, which I’m only meh about: I didn’t have any brown Wooly Nylon on hand so just used regular serger thread and it doesn’t have the fullness I wanted. Not really a big deal and I doubt the majority of people will even notice so I’ll just keep quiet and live with it.

The obi is probably my favorite. I was on the fence about which fabric to use and Sarah suggested I make it reversible. Brilliant! Liesl asked to wear the apples today but the reverse is the same yellow fabric used on the ruffles. Overall, I think it’s one of the tamer Kyokos I’ve made but, oh, how pretty it is!

By the way, I’m teaching a Kyoko class (which will include tips for modifying the pattern like I did) on Oct. 9.

A Spring-y Set

Do not adjust your computer screens. The outfit you see to the left was intentionally sewn big. LOL!

My final sample for the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo and Greater Atlanta Shop Hop is the Flora Tunic & Twirl Skirt by Sew Liberated. I have long admired Meg’s aesthetic and was so excited when Sarah started carrying her patterns. This makes the third one I’ve sewn, I think!

Because this was made as a shop sample, I intentionally made it too big for Miss L to wear right now. She’s a pretty skinny size 5 and I cut out the size 6 for both the top and the skirt, thinking she’d wear them next year. Unless she has a massive growth spurt and goes straight to an 8 in the next year, I suspect she’ll get two years out of this outfit.

The top is made from more of that gorgeous Anna Maria Horner voile. I think I need to make a dozen shirts out of this stuff for me. It’s just so soft and divine to feel. *swoon*

It’s a raglan style top with elbow-length sleeves and a neck facing, which came together pretty quickly. I think I’d like to make another closer to L’s current size so she can wear it this spring and summer. It’s just a nice basic top that would go with pretty much anything.

For the skirt, Sarah and I picked out a pretty Alexander Henry home dec fabric plus some of Patty’s Mezannine line for Michael Miller Fabrics. I think it makes for a sweet, Spring-y outfit that’s a little dressy and a lot comfortable.

I followed the directions for the skirt, more or less. The directions have you cut the skirt pieces perpendicular to the grain, so if you’re going to follow them, I’d steer away from an obviously directional print. The pattern recommends home dec fabric for the main skirt and mid-weight fabric for the hem band and waistband. In the future, I think I’d use all quilting cottons. The home dec fabric just fit when gathered to the waistband but the 1/2″ non-roll elastic wasn’t strong enough to pull in the waistband (that’s why Liesl is holding up the skirt). After I took the picture, I ripped out the elastic and replaced it with 3/4″ non-roll elastic and it made a huge difference (although it was a tight fit to get it through the casing).

I did do all machine sewing on the skirt; the directions call for handstitching in two places but I’m just too lazy to do it. I might be more inclined if I were using fancier fabrics or going for more of an heirloom-sewing look, though.

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I’ll be a the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo this morning, working the Intown Quilters booth, so come say “hi” if you’re in the area!

It’s a Mish Mash

Sarah, Taffy, Patty and I had a blast picking out fabric at the Alexander Henry booth when we were at Market last October. When these great bird prints arrived at the shop last week, Sarah called to let me know and I immediately started thinking of something fun to make with them.

I loved the Pink Fig Mish Mash Skirt pattern because it provided the opportunity to use all the fabrics — and more — in one fun and funky piece. While the pattern calls for 10-15 fabrics cut to 5/8 yard, Sarah and I figured out that I could get away with fat quarters instead (although we did opt for a 1/6 yard cut of fabric for the waistband). When the pattern called for a longer cut of fabric, I just divided up the fabric and sewed up the pieces to make the longer strips (this was needed for only two fabrics, BTW and pretty much used up each of those FQs).

In addition to the great AH fabrics, we mixed in some solids, a few Kaffe Fasset prints, a little Henry Glass (Bubblegum Basics), some Robert Kaufman and a touch of Lecien Mini Miu. The underskirt is Erin McMorris’s most recent line with some tulle I had on hand.

I did find the cutting and measuring a little intimidating but I just sketched out the skirt layout and planned each piece before I started cutting. I think that really helped me make sure I didn’t have fabrics of the same color or print next to each other, as well as plan the pieces so I didn’t run out of anything unexpectedly.

I neglected to double check each measurement before I cut so I did end up with some pieces that were shorter than others. After I pieced all the non-gathered strips together, I just evened up the bottom. It really was no more than 1/2″ and obviously is still plenty long.

If I had to do it again, I think I would adjust the gathered strips so they are not gathered within 1/2 inch of the top and bottom. I think this would help the rolled hem look a little neater, as well as help with the sort of balloon-y look of the gathered strips where they meet the waistband.

The instructions called for a lot more embellishing and topstitching than I did, and I think I’ll give those a whirl the next time I make this skirt. I think I’d really love to make it with a less diverse color palette for some variation. And I’m eager to try out the embellished tee the next time, too.

For reference, this skirt is a 5T and plenty long to get worn for a couple or three years. Liesl is a skinny size 5 (and only about 42 1/2 inches tall). I made it as a shop sample and didn’t mind it being a little big, since it may be a while before we get it back.

Tomorrow: The Sew Liberated Flora Tunic & Twirl Skirt!

ModKid meets Alexander Henry

I’m not lying when I say that I love Patty‘s patterns. The styles are so fun and hip, and the clothes sew up so nicely. I’m never disappointed by the results and Miss L always loves wearing them.

About a year ago, I tried to bring home Patty’s prototype for the Sydney hooded tunic but was foiled. Lucky for me that I can now make one whenever I want — and I’m expecting there to be plenty in L’s closet before too long.

Now, this particular Sydney was made as a sample for the shop but I did let my sweetie wear it before I dropped it off. The two main fabrics are by Alexander Henry and I have to say that I love them just as much now as I did when Sarah ordered them at Market in May. Bright, fun, bold — all the things I love. The green dot is actually one of Paula‘s from Summer Soiree. A few of those prints actually look really good with the AH line but the dots won out for me. Why? Because I have a polka dot fixation. (The green corduroy pants, BTW, were a Carter’s purchase and a perfect match.)

I did make one change to the construction of the tunic and that was sewing the front facing over the hood so that the front edge of the hood ends up between the facing and the tunic. I think it makes for a nice, clean line in the front of the tunic and no serged seams to show if the neckline flips open. If you want to try this yourself, follow the directions for attaching and turning the facing but skip topstitching the opening as well as basting the facing to the neckline. Then when you attach the hood, pin the facing so the hood is between it and the tunic, with the wrong side of the facing on the outside of the shirt. Clip the corner and turn the facing back to the inside of the top before topstitching around the hood and the shirt’s V.

I don’t think it took me more than two or three hours to sew it up, and part of that was because I got caught up in the TV show I had on while I was sewing. (Shhh! I have an unhealthy addiction to the SoapNet’s repeats of Beverly Hills, 90210!)

More, More, More

People tend to give me the crazy eyebrow when I tell them I sit on a massage stool when I sew.

It wasn’t always the case. I previously used a big ol’ office chair with arm rests and a high back and everything. What I found was that the arm rests got in the way and I never sat far enough back to take advantage of the back rest.

A massage stool just made more sense for me. But it was kind of … boring. Plain.

Not anymore.

As part of the big studio re-do, I decide to make a little slipcover for the stool. It took virtually no time at all to make. The biggest challenge was making sure my measurements were right (and the attention to detail paid off because it was a perfect fit.

I measured across the top and then drafted a circle 1/2″ larger to account for the seam allowance and any mistakes in measuring. I cut strips 2″ longer than the depth of the stool to give me enough width for the seam allowance and also to create a casing for the elastic drawstring that holds the cover to the chair.

Cut everything out, finished the raw edge of the rectangle, sewed it into a circle, pinned it to the top, sewed it, then made the drawstring casing and boom! Done!

In Progress

I feel as if my studio revamp is taking something only slightly short of forever. I’m not typically a piecemeal sort of girl but that’s exactly how I’ve been dealing with this re-do: One little bit at a time.

It’s making me nuts.

And while it’s still not done, it’s getting closer to being exactly what I want. Fun. Bright. A little girly. Very much me.

My older son’s bedroom is downstairs and he’s groused a bit about the girling up of the public space outside his door. I was quick to remind him that he’s heading off to college in the very near future and will be gone nine months of the year, so 1. he won’t have to look at it that much and b. it’s my house and I can do what I want.

I’m thinking he most objects to the giant pink futon. I picked up the frame on Craigslist and forced asked him to sand it down for me so I could prime and paint it, a nice shiny white. I would loved to have left it stained but that dark wood just doesn’t work in a room that gets minimal natural light. The bright pink cover was a great find, a floor sample on clearance at the futon store where I bought the mattress.

The finishing touch would be the pillows. It was love at first sight with this Alexander Henry fabric (Sew Now Sew Wow). I mean, love love love love LOVE. I’ve been accenting it mostly the the AH Perfect Pattern fabrics (black, white and pink versions) but also some aqua and white polka dots from my stash.

The small pillow (top) is just a basic slipcover over a 16″ pillow form. I inserted a ruffle between the front and the back to fancy it up a bit.

The larger pillow was inspired by the cover project from the Spring issue of Stitch. I kind of did my own thing with the blocks (which are foundation pieced, unlike the magazine’s instructions) but I absolutely love how it turned out. It’s big and bold and bright and just perfect.

My Getaway Bag

I’ve been working on the My Paris Traveler’s Bag by Fig Tree patterns for about a week now, mostly because I haven’t had the time to sit and finish it.

I decided to use some gorgeous Alexander Henry Sew Now Sew Wow fabric that I bought in Richmond, Va., at Quilting Adventures. The main print is home dec weight and I’m totally in loooove. (I’ve got more things to show off that I’ve made with the quilting weight version of the fabric, but I’m not quite ready to share it.)

I used a red and white polka dot from Joann’s for the handles, some red binding for the pocket and three of the Alexander Henry coordinates — Perfect Pattern in white on black, black on white and white on pink — for the gusset and lining/lining gusset.

OK, I totally love the bag and am so glad I made it. It’s HUGE. My 6+ foot son is holding it in the photo and I’ve got it stuffed with three pillows to fill it out.

The pattern has problems. The instructions call for the gusset and lining gusset to be cut 42″ long but there was a strip of paper inserted into the envelope that corrected it to 38″. Guess what? The gussets were both too short. I ended up making corner pleats in the body and body lining panels to make it work. I just checked the Fig Tree web site and it corrects the gusset length to 40″. Wish I’d checked before I cut but I thought the insert WAS the correction. I also found the cutting instructions a little confusing. I ended up cutting the main lining pieces sideways because of the way the measurements were presented in the pattern.

Overall, I thought the bag came together fairly easily, even with the 24″ zipper and off cutting instructions. And it’s a great size for an overnight/weekend bag, so I’m sure it’ll get a lot of use. Plus I totally love the fabric and think the bag is very “me.”

A Test Drive With Patty & Frida

Days Two-Four of this week’s pattern-testing binge is all about the new Mod Kid Sewing Patterns by Patty Young. Of course, I’ve only sewn two out of three things and have been laid up today with the rotten cold Miss L shared with me, so Day Four may be Friday. Or Saturday.

Anyway …

I broke my personal fabric-buying rules when I picked up the Sprites of Tillbrook: I had no idea what I was going to make with it, but I bought it anyway. When I started looking through my stash for fabrics to use when pattern testing Frida, I just knew the Tillbrook would be awesome. And I think I was right!

Do you know how it is when you get an idea for something and then make it, and it’s even better than you’d imagined? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about this dress. I am so happy with how it turned out! I’m working on the headscarf (it’s about half done) but I used the same floral fabric from the bodice for it and I think I’m using the mushrooms for the ties.

I like how easily the pattern comes together and I’m happy with the fit. I sized up a tad bit so Liesl could wear this all summer. I think I might make the next dress a little longer, just because she’s so tall in proportion to her girth.

I’m already plotting what fabrics to use for the next one of these I sew. I think I’m going to do the tunic with a pair of shorts. And definitely more pockets — the little miss loves her some pockets and these are a nice size for holding all of her treasures.