Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Week #21 The T-shirt Circle Skirt

For my final t-shirt project for the month of May, I wanted to make a clothing item for Elle Bean. She is a pretty hard to fit pre-teen. We struggle finding clothes that fit and flatter her ever changing frame. She loves that we have made clothes for Lily Bear and the Princess P from up-cycled T's and wanted me to try and do the same for her. We decided on a simple circle skirt. 

Challange: Make Something for the Hard to Fit Pre-Teen from T's
Project: The Circle (Twirl) Skirt

A circle skirt pattern is a very simple to figure out using geometry. I am no longer in high school and don't want to do geometry. As such, I was lazy and let someone else do the math for me. As Ashley at Lil Blue Boo is my go to for knit patterns, I let her do the calculations and bought her Twirl Skirt pattern. Thank you Ashley for saving me from myself.
I don't have any pictures of Elle Bean in her new skirt. She tried it on and loved it, but it has been raining and windy and a rather blustery week here in NoCo. She is visiting with her dad and won't be back in time for the post. I will try to add an addendum to this post with a picture of her in the skirt.
Wow, I really need some help in taking pictures. 
I used two women's T's for the skirt and a tank top for the waist band. I found them at our local thrift store. I have to stay away from the thrift stores because even at 1/2 off prices, I end up spending way too much money every time I am there. 
The waist band, where we usually have problems with Elle Bean, is so soft and comfy. It works great for her. She wants me to make another skirt and make it a little longer next time. I think I can manage that for my Elle Bean.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Week #20 the T-shirt Hat

Challenge: Make Something for Everyone with a T-shirt
Project: The T-shirt Hat
This is definitely going to need to be a tutorial soon. I was hoping to have one done by the time I posted, but it is not to be. I will try to get it out in the first week or so of June. Promise. Pinkie swear.

I wanted to make something this week that everyone could wear.  I thought, "hey, we we all have heads", and so the T-shirt hat was born.
It was super easy and I can make two hats from one large or xl T-shirt. The only other supply needed for the project (aside from thread, of course) is some super heavy weight interfacing for the brim. 
I love the raw edges and how flexible the hat is.
The hat is so soft and it stays put with out becoming a vise on your head. I did make one for myself, but I have not yet mastered taking a picture when I am the subject of the photograph. 
I had Princess P and Elle Bean model their hats for me. 
Such good and patient children I have. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week #19 Converting the Stained T with Tutorial

So I cheated a little bit. I did make a dress for Lily Bear, but it was not the same kind of T-shirt dress that I have been making. That counts right?
Challenge: Using the Stained T
Project: T-shirt Dress with Cotton Skirt

We have an 11year span between Lily Bear and Elle Bean (our second youngest) and as such, we had next to no baby gear when we found out we were expecting Lily. 
Elle Bean is a big sister!
We must have timed it just right because we had baby items thrust upon us from every direction from friends who declared definitively that they were, capital D O N E, done having kids. I think the only thing we bought was the changing table (okay my dad actually got that one for us, thanks dad). 
Along with the equipment came the piles of baby clothes. Wow, all I can say is wow. I probably really won't have to buy anything for Lily Bear for years to come (not that that will stop me from sewing some things here and there). 
As happens with baby clothes, some of them came to us with little stains. Some  items were so cute, it hurt to not figure out something to do with them. 

Case in point:
This shirt came to us from our friends Karl and Natalie and their daughter Clara (they had twin boys born two weeks before Lily Bear was born, so we got all their girlie stuff). It was so cute, but had a stain just above the belly button.
The sheet I found at a garage sale. 
Let's put them together and see what we get. 

First I cut the shirt above the stain.

I measured the width (a) of the new bottom of the shirt and multiplied (a) x 2 for the width of the skirt then multiplied  x 1.5 to add fullness to the skirt.   (I AM GOING TO CHANGE THIS TO x2 NEXT TIME, I WANT IT A LITTLE BIT MORE FULL) So the width of the skirt = a x 2 x 1.5

I then  took one of Lily Bears dresses that I liked the length (b) of and used the skirt measurement. I took (b) + 1.5 inches for hem and seam allowance. So the length of the skirt = b + 1.5 inches
After cutting the skirt, I hemmed the bottom and sewed up the side seams.
Next I sewed a long stitch (4 on my machine) around the top of the skirt; a gathering stitch. Pulling the bobbin thread, I gathered the skirt to be the same width as the shirt.
I then pinned the skirt and the shirt right sides together and sewed them together. 
Turn the dress right side out and: ta da, the stained shirt is now a cute dress for Lily Bear.
I made a little head band from some of the left over T-shirt and the fitted part of the sheet.
Lily Bear was much more interested in the flowers than a photo shoot.
"Purple round puffy thing. . .  my favorite."
"I am sure I can reach it if I really stretch, and give mom a heart attack in the process"
"Now I have two pretty round puffy purple things. Yea!"

Friday, May 13, 2011

Week #18 T-Shirt Tunic

Challenge: Make Something for the Teen with T's
Project: The Pieced Tunic

I don't know about you, but my teen (The Princess P) has way too many t-shirts. I really lucked out because her favorite place to shop is the resale store in town and compared to some of my friends' teens, I spend next to nothing on clothes. However, her pile of clothes (usually on the floor) is massive. She sorts occasionally, but she has a hard time giving up her favorite t's even when they don't really fit anymore. 

Solution: The Pieced Tunic

I bought the pattern from Ashley at Lil Blue Boo

Ashley is the reason that I started this obsession with up-cycling t's in the first place. My inability to get rid of any old knit clothes is all your fault Ashley!

Princess P and I picked out four shirts and we went to town.

The pattern is really easy and it has sizes XS to XL. P wants me to try and extend it to make a dress next. She loved the way it turned out (she was a lot happier than the sitting down picture shows, I swear) and wore it to school the next day. Apparently I got a lot of compliments on it (from actual teenagers!)

Lily Bear wanted to get in on this photo shoot too!

We already have several more tunics in the works. What a great way to use what we already have to make something new.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May: The Month of T's

I started this year long project of sewing every week to find and express my creativity while I take a break from acting.
Portraying Zillah in  Bright Room Called Day

I have really enjoyed it.

Throughout the last four months of sewing, I seem to have hit on to something that really is in sync with my personal philosophies: re-purposing fabric to make new items. I love making something new from something old or even something that is going to be thrown away.

 Don't get me wrong, I love beautiful fabric, but I find I get really excited when someone says how cute something is and I can tell them what each piece of fabric use to be. (I really should just learn to say thank you to a compliment instead of giving away all my secrets and coming off looking like a crazy person).

I have made quite a few dresses for Lily Bear from t-shirts and they have gotten rave reviews from Lily and her admirers. 

I love re-using t's to make Lily Bear dresses, but I want to branch out a little bit. So every week this month I am going make something from re-purposed t-shirts, something other than a dress for Lily Bear that is.  I have a pretty crazy project for this summer that I think I need to work up to using t-shirts. I will fill you all in on it in another post. 

So here is to May and the plethora of T's!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week #17 Make Something For Myself/Epic Fail

Challenge: Make Something For Myself/Shirring
Project: Shirred Scarf
The Princess P modeling the final, end result scarf. I know I need to model some of my own things, but  it is so much easier to bribe the girls to do it for me :)

As the months have progressed I realize that I have made things for everyone except for myself. I have especially avoided making anything for myself to wear. I know that I need to get out of my comfort zone and finally create something wearable for myself. I think that I cheated a little bit by deciding to make a scarf because it is kind of a one size fits all, no alterations necessary clothing item, but hey, it is start. 
I had seen a few cute scarves out there that were shirred, a process of sewing with regular thread and elastic thread, and I wanted to give it a try. I even considered doing a tutorial on my process. 

Laugh along with my hubris here.

Here were my materials:
Regular and elastic thread, dress maker's chalk and a 1/4 yard of voile fabric (Anna Marie Horner Innocent Crush Voile First Impression Blush) .

First I hand wound my bobbin with elastic thread. Not pulling the thread taunt as I wound it, but rather an even winding, neither too loose or too tight. 

I cut my fabric so that I had two sections approximately 9 inches wide and sewed them together end to end to make one long piece of fabric. I used a French seam so that it looked cleaner. I did not hem the sides or bottom of the fabric because I was going for a shabby chic look. 

I then marked two lines along the length of the fabric three inches from each side of the fabric.

My intent was to have two lines of shirring three inches apart. I set my machine to a longer stitch (4) and followed along the line of chalk.

My first line of shirring went great. The fabric was gathering. I finished by back stitching and started on my second line. . . things started going wrong. It wouldn't gather.
I tried shortening and lengthening the stitches, but nothing worked. Frustrated I decided to do a sewing cheat. I finished the line but did not back stitch. I "hand shirred" the fabric basically by using a gathering technique and pulling the elastic thread tighter. It worked but I wasn't happy about how I got the results.

I finished the scarf. . . but I really hated what it looked like. (This picture does not accurately show how yucky this turned out, go figure, most pictures don't show how great things actually look!)
It was way too wide and the ends were boxy. I tried to force it by wearing it to work the next day. I felt like I was buried in the scarf and the ends were so boxy they wouldn't lay nicely. I hated it. I wanted to give up and throw it away as well as give up on this sewing thing that I obviously am no good at. 

Sheesh, melodrama much?

I was frustrated about how the shirring worked on the first line but not on the second and I couldn't get it out of my head, so I did some research. I found this blog and I was justly rewarded. I didn't change my bobbin casing tension since it had worked once before without doing so. However, I did figure out that after my first line I just started sewing the second line with out re-threading the elastic thread and it wasn't "linked in" to the bobbin casing. This caused there to be no tension in the elastic thread and thus no gathering. Yea! 

I wanted to remake the scarf, but I wanted to fix what I had. . . the fabric was not cheap. I took a look at how Dana crated her scarf over at MADE and made some adjustments.

(I didn't take pictures of the process because I was so disheartened by my last attempt. . . wish I had now.)

I took out one line of shirring with my ever present friend, the seam ripper. Then I cut the fabric down to six inches wide. This made the line of shirring that I had left in, centered on the fabric. I then re-threaded my bobbin and sewed another line of shirring approximately 1/4 inch from the existing shirring line (worked this time!). So I had two lines of shirring basically in the center of the scarf. (This would be so much easier if I had just taken pictures!) I also hemmed the bottoms of the scarf with a curve to get rid of the boxy feel. 

It worked! I actually wore my scarf to the Zoo for Mother's Day (but didn't manage to get a picture) and I really am happy with how it turned out this time. I even made one for the Princess P out of the 3 inch wide fabric I cut off. I shirred two lines down the center and now she has her own scarf too. 
Lily Bear and Princess P modeling the scarves, it was really windy.

It wasn't a complete fail and I managed to salvage it, but it was so much harder to recover from than I thought it should be. I had so little time to sew last week and when the one project I found time for didn't work, it was so depressing. Like I wasted my only opportunity for 'me' time on something that turned out horribly ugly. However, as frustrating as failures can be, they are probably our my best learning tools. I learn more from the things I don't succeed at that the things I do.  

Lesson learned.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day at the Zoo

Yesterday for Mother's Day I wanted to do something with all the girls, but going out to breakfast doesn't really appeal to me, I don't particularly like breakfast foods. Late Saturday night I had a brilliant idea. Sunday we packed up Lily Bear, picked up Angel at her dorm, drove down to Denver to get Princess P and Elle Bean (who were visiting with their dad) and headed to the Denver Zoo. 

I have not been to the Denver Zoo in over seven years and Lily Bear, being only 9 months old, had never been at all. 
It was a great day.
The kids got along.
Daddy carried Lily for a lot of the day.

The girls explored.
Lily loved the apes and monkeys.
They even got to feed some birds.

And lots of monkeying around!

Best Mother's Day Ever!
This also is serving as a Mother's Day gift of pictures of the grandchildren for all of my mothers. Aren't I tricky???

Love you Mom, Barb and Pat. Thank you for making me a very lucky daughter to have all of you in my life.