Monday, April 30, 2012

Amy Butler Lotus Top Sew-a-Long!

Anyone interested in sewing another Amy Butler pattern with me? Actually, my friend Cara from My Little Lady Designs and I will be sewing the Lotus Tunic Top week with our own sew-a-long!! Cara and I were college roommates and even though we live in different states, we are having so much fun sewing "together"! :) It's not often that I sew just for myself, but I'm on a roll and loving it!

Here's the proposed timeline:

Mon May 7: Trace and Cut Pattern
Tues May 8-Thurs May 10: Sewing
Friday May 11: Finishing

I even made my first Flickr group so we can share our photos: http://www.flickr.com/groups/lotuspattern/!

My plan is to sew a shortened tunic with sleeves using these two fabrics...
Amy Butler Sandlewood in Tangerine and Lodge Lattice by Joel Dewberry

I might even try to sew a second top along with this one if I can scrounge up some fabric to use in my stash!! Can't wait to get started and the share the process with you! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Amy Butler Shower Curtain!

It's no secret that I love Amy Butler. I guess it was only a matter of time until each of the rooms in my house had some kind of Amy Butler fabric in them! A shower curtain seems like such an easy project, right? Well, stick with me and I'll give you some practical tips to help you sew a new shower curtain of your own.

A little less than a year ago, I picked out her Arabesque in Ivory for a nursing cover that a friend made and left it hanging in the bathroom.

 "Hmm," I thought. "That looks good in here!" It even went with our existing bath towels. Although we have a teeny-tiny powder room, there's no reason it can't look great! This the view from inside the doorway:
 A close-up of the edging I used to add visual interest and a little bit of weight to the bottom:
 A shot of the curtain top, with a grand total of TWELVE buttonholes!
Looks really nice with our pearl grey paint color and white beadboard walls! Wish I could get you better pics, but it's not easy with such a skinny room! Believe it or not, we actually had an even more miniature bath in the first apartment my husband and I had in Minneapolis...so, to me, size doesn't matter as long as it's pretty. And when we start shopping for our "forever" home later this year, I'll just be happy to have more than one powder room!! :)

The finished size of this curtain is about 73"x73", just a tad larger than a standard shower curtain measurement of 72" x 72". To make this curtain, I purchased 4 yards of fabric cut into 2 yard sections. Then I put the two 2-yard pieces right sides together and peeked between them to see if the fabric designs lined up, which they didn't. Sigh! I had to pin and then check the alignment...pin and check...pin and check...until I was fairly pleased with the pattern match-up. Obviously, this wouldn't be an issue if you used a solid colored fabric.

Once I had my sections pinned together properly, I trimmed off the excess fabric leaving about one inch of a seam allowance. You could easily do less of a seam allowance, but I get nervous and like to leave myself with plenty of room! Then I sewed the two pieces together using a french seam because I don't have a serger. Here's an easy tutorial if you want to try out a french seam: How To Create a French Seam. You could also finish your raw edges with a zigzag stitch or serge it, then press your seams open.

After that, I took my excess pieces of fabric that I cut from the seam area earlier and decided to use them as edging around the top and bottom areas of the curtain. I cut each piece to the same width as the finished curtain and then folded each piece horizontally, right sides together. Since the plan was to sew buttonholes along the top for the shower curtain hooks to go through, I figured it would be best to use a double thickness of fabric for that area. I'd suggest adding light interfacing inside the edging/buttonhole area too, if you are so inclined.

The next step was to sew my edging pieces to the main body of the curtain. I lined up each piece right sides together, raw edges together, and sewed it with a 1/2" seam allowance. I finished my raw edges by trimming them with a pinking shears and then sewing over the edges with a small zigzag stitch. The final step was to hem the sides of the curtain. For this, I pressed the edges under twice and then top-stitched. Here's more info on how to sew a basic hem: Sew a Simple Hem.

Since I had twelve curtain hooks, I needed to sew twelve evenly dispersed buttonholes on the top edging of my nearly finished shower curtain. For this, I used my old curtain as a guide for where to place the holes, and then marked the placement with a chalk pencil. Some of the first buttonholes I ever made are on this curtain, and it was shockingly easy!! (If you can guess...I did a few test buttonholes on scrap fabric just to get my bearings!

My Singer came with an automatic buttonhole foot, but very skimpy directions on how to use it. Here is the video tutorial I found that really helped me with my automatic buttonhole foot: Sew a Buttonhole. I also suggest reading this excellent article on sewing buttonholes from Sew for Home if you're also new to sewing buttonholes.

I still can't believe I'm all done sewing this shower curtain! I'm totally loving it. In the end, each panel measured 36 1/2" wide and edging pieces were about 2"x73". I think it took me about 6 hours total to sew up this project, but I could definitely make it again in less time. What do you think? Ready to start your own shower curtain?? Please contact me if you have any questions, I'd love to help!! :)

Here's a sneak preview of two new projects I currently have on deck! First, Iris Shorts from Colette Patterns.
So far, I just have my paper pattern pieces cut out. This will be my first time using Colette Patterns, and I'm hoping to write a review once I'm all done! Now, if I could only settle on a good fabric to use!

Second...
Yep, that's me stenciling with fabric paint onto burlap! Eventually these hunks of burlap will be accent edges on our living room curtains. Can't wait!! Have a fabulous week!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cabo Halter Day 4: All Done and Pattern Review!

It's been just a blast doing the Amy Butler pattern sew-a-long via the Living with Punks blog! Big thanks to her for arranging this and getting me sewing something just for myself! It's been so enjoyable and motivating that a friend of mine and I have decided to do the Amy Butler Lotus Tunic pattern together next!!! Check out her blog: My Little Ladies.

You can revisit the details of my progress with the Cabo Halter at the links below:

Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long Intro
Day 1: Cutting Fabric
Day 2: Sewing the Bodice
Day 3: Zipper, etc. 

For even more pics of everyone's projects, click HERE to see the Sew-a-Long Flickr group.

Here are photos of the completely finished garments! 
After sewing two of these Amy Butler Cabo Halters, I feel ready to write a little pattern review for you! First of all, I would definitely use this pattern again. In fact, I already have plans (and fabric!) to make another halter for my sister. :)

If you've used paper patterns before, this pattern won't give you much trouble. I made two of these halters in a little less than 4 days, during evenings and my kids' naptimes. I found that the pattern pieces were very fully and accurately labeled, which made assembly a little easier. Amy Butler's step-by-step descriptions were largely adequate and assembly was very straightforward. It would have been nice to have a few extra drawings about how to construct the dart, especially for first-timers, but it wasn't an issue for me because I had sewn them in previous garments.

The Cabo Halter pattern was pretty much true to size for me. After comparing my measurements to the pattern instructions, I chose to sew a size large and I'm glad I did! If anything, this pattern runs a tad small in the bodice. If you are more well-endowed, I'd suggest cutting the bodice pieces a size up from your body pieces. Actually, this pattern call for a 1/2" seam allowance throughout, which is more than generous to allow for extra sizing tweaks. On my second halter (Temple Garland), I made the bodice pieces using a 3/8" seam allowance, but kept the 1/2" allowance for the body. I think the fit of that garment worked out best for my body type.

Another note about the bodice...I decided to add a few stitches where the two bodice pieces cross over just to minimize the cleavage effect. I even added some lace to the yellow halter's bodice area to obtain more coverage. For more details on how to make this top more modest (so to speak!), check out some ideas from the Living with Punks blog HERE.

Finally, I would suggest using muslin for lining the bodice pieces so you can save on fabric. I've heard that Amy Butler patterns call for way more fabric than necessary, and that is definitely true for this garment. A size large calls for 2 yards of fabric, but I needed about 1 1/2 yards for each garment. Absolutely good to know when planning to sew this pattern!! :)

I better run! Feel free to contact me in the comments if you have questions about sewing this pattern. I'd love to help out with whatever you need! Have a fabulous day! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cabo Halter Day 3: Zipper, etc.

Wow, it's been busy couple of days doing this Cabo Halter sew-a-long! All my kids' afternoon nap-times and plenty of my evening hours have been devoted to sewing these days, but well worth it. Just to catch you up, I'm participating in an Amy Butler pattern sew-a-long via Living with Punks. You can revisit the details at the links below:

Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long Intro
Day 1: Cutting Fabric
Day 2: Sewing the Bodice

Here are some pics of my progress from Day 3! All is done except the hem on my Temple Garland piece!!!

Most of Day 3 involved sewing the body pieces and attaching the zipper. I had to rip and re-sew my seams a few times on the yellow shirt I completed first. I just couldn't get the side seams to match up exactly the first time around! I had the fabric pieces pinned okay, but I guess I nudged it out of line somehow while sewing. Oh well, I compensated accordingly on the Temple Garland halter and no problems arose.

There are tons of tutorials and videos online about sewing zippers, but I use a method I learned from the Sew Mama Sew blog. Click HERE for her tutorial. It's basically in line with what my mom told me, but fuses the zipper directly to the garment before sewing, eliminating pins and any wonkiness. I love it!!

Day 4 is up next, devoted to finishing up the garments. I'm going to install my hook and eye closures, do some ironing and then call it a day! :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cabo Halter Day 2: Bodice

Day 2 of Living with Punks' Amy Butler Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long is here and I'm almost done with both of my garments already! Man, I am getting so speedy at sewing now that I rearranged my sewing nook and I can leave all of my projects out to tackle whenever I have a spare moment. Here are some shots of the bodices I finished last night, but check out the Flicker group to see more pics of everyone's work so far!

I'm making two halters simultaneously, just because I know I'll get sidetracked and never go back to make more with this pattern later!
I thought they were so cute when I draped them to check the fit, and I'm really excited to finish up!! Check out my original post HERE for more details on this Sew-a-Long.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cabo Halter Day 1: Cutting Fabric

Have you joined Living With Punks' Amy Butler Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long yet? I'm so glad I did, because this sure is fun! Check out the Flickr group for lots of fun photos. The first day was devoted to tracing and cutting the pattern pieces. The Sew-a-Long's host has a great post on how to tackle that part of this pattern HERE.

Here's a pic of some examples of my pieces. I'm making two halters, one with Tanya Whelan Picnic damask (white and yellow) and the other more colorful one is Temple Garland by Amy Butler.

It took me an hour or so to trace and cut fabric for two halters. So excited to eventually wear these garments!!! The temps here have dipped down lately, but I still have summertime in sight! :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Show Me Your Fabric Stash

If you're anything like me, half the fun of sewing is building up a fabric collection...AKA "fabric stash"! I have loads of fabric that I totally intend of eventually using...I hope...but just haven't gotten the time. Me, and pretty much every other sewist I know, is in the same boat! :) Anyhow, here's your chance to show off that stash! Info below courtesy of the Amy Butler website:

"To celebrate the launch of my Gypsy Caravan collection I am running a contest so you can show me YOUR stash! The rules are simple, just upload one picture of you and your fabric stash to my new Flickr group HERE by May 15th. I will be randomly picking three winners from the photo pool for an exciting prize of Gypsy Caravan fabric, books and patterns."

Sounds cool, right? More details to be found HERE. I just uploaded a pic of my stash to the Flickr group this morning. Here's a shot of me in my sewing area, with my stash always nearby and at the ready!! I snagged my hubby to take a few pics yesterday after our Easter festivities, otherwise I wouldn't be so dressed up! ;)

 My desk is NOT usually this messy. Okay...yes, it is. Actually it's typically much more messy than this, but for once I cleaned up a tad after finishing whatever I was working on last.
 FABRIC!!!

Gotta run! Just a reminder that tomorrow is the start of the Cabo Halter Sew-a-long if you want to join in. Yippee! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Projects Complete!

How are your Easter projects going? For once, I'm actually done ahead of time. This never happens!! Just wanted to quickly post a few pics of the heirloom Easter dress I finished yesterday for my daughter, plus the coordinating accessories I made for my two boys. Everybody's going to look so dapper!

The fabric is Tanya Whelan's Picnic Damask and then I made an overlay with silk organza edged with three-tier lace. I also added a pleated eyelet trim to bottom edge of the skirt.
The dress includes lace butterfly sleeves and a long sash at the waist. I made up my own pattern as I went from mostly impromptu ideas. I really let my creativity loose on this one!! :)

Here are the matching ties I made for my sons. The oldest gets to wear the "daddy tie" and my baby boy will wear a bow tie this Easter Sunday. 
Can't wait to see my kiddos in their new finery! I just finished constructing some matching hair clips for my daughter and I, but haven't gotten a chance to take pics. Hopefully I can update this post later on with more photos! Take care and have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Dress Preview

As part of my mission to sew more clothing items for my daughter, I've been working on a very special Easter dress these past few nights. Here's a preview photo of the work in progress from yesterday afternoon...

This dress is made from Tanya Whelan's Picnic Damask fabric with a silk organza overskirt. I happened to have some fancy-schmansy organza in storage from wedding supplies I purchased a long time ago. Feels great to put it to good use! :) I made up my own pattern as I went along, but I'm using an old romper pattern from my youngest son's baptism outfit to guide me through. I added a three-layer lace as edging to the overskirt and did three levels of pintucks just above the lace.

Really, I think I deserve something so fancy and pretty too! I'll have to think of how to use some lace and pintucks on an adult garment...hmmm...

Hope all of your Easter projects are going great! My next step is to install the zipper on this dress and finally be done. Then I'm making coordinating accessories for my boys. I'm thinking of ties or belts?? Have a fabulous day! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long

It's my first sew-a-long, and I'm so excited! My good friend from My Little Lady Designs is participating and when she shared the info with me, I couldn't resist! Living with Punks, a great blog with so many cool sewing tutorials, is hosting the project. Here's the link: Amy Butler Cabo Halter Sew-a-Long.

It just sounds like so much fun to make myself a summer top (or 2) with actual timelines/deadlines to motivate me. Maybe (hopefully!) this project actually gets completed. ;) I haven't totally decided what fabric I'm going to use, but I have about 2 yards of Picnic Damask in Yellow by Tanya Whelan leftover from my daughter's Easter dress.
Otherwise, I also have a large chunk of Temple Garland in Clay by Amy Butler...
Hmmm...maybe these fabrics would look good together! We'll see. I have been trying to whittle down my giant fabric stash these days. I just gave my mom a big bunch of fabric with her promises to make simple peasant-style summer nightgowns for my daughter. Excited for those!! Otherwise, I'm hoping to use the whole month of April to work on a few outfits for my kids...shorts for the boys and dresses for my girl...plus a skirt or two for me. Should be fun!

Next week I hope to post some pics of my daughter's Easter dress! I'm making my own pattern for this and I'm still working out the details. All I know is that I have a lot of cute lace to use and too many ideas!!! Have a great week. :)

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