Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Completed: Waste Free Lunch Bag

School starts next week! Our last couple of books are arriving this week, and the daily schedule is all planned. The kids range from excited to despairing depending on the day. Ha. They've had a great summer.

This year we're attending two co-ops: Classical Conversations and a fine arts program where they'll take Intro to Art and Intro to Violin.

Eliza and I will accompany the boys and hang out with the other families and young ones during class. Snacks are a requirement to keep both of us happy!

Enter the Waste Free Lunch Bag by Gingercake.

When Virginia invited me to sew up a bag, I chose this one because of the divider and interior pocket for napkins, wipes, utensils, etc. Now that we've outgrown diaper bags I hardly every carry a purse, and the little pocket will be perfect for my wallet.

The interior holds a couple of small plastic containers and a sippy cup. If I get around to sewing some snack bags, it would probably hold six of those.

The original pattern closes with a flap and velcro, but Virginia added a tutorial for finishing the bag with a zipper, which I prefer.

Lunches and snacks stay cold/warm because of a layer of thinsulate. There's lots of interfacing, too, for stability in the handles and divider panel.

The bottom of the bag is finished with a wide box pleat. One of the bags on Virginia's site had a contrasting panel along the bottom, so I decided to try that and added piping between the seams. Next time I'll add a larger contrasting panel, but I ran out of fabric.

This is the third Gingercake pattern I've sewn. The Crayon Folio for Eliza is still a favorite of hers, and I gave our niece a crash course in sewing this summer using the Modern Folksy Bunny. Virginia's pattern instructions are thorough, and her designs are practical and attractive. 

Some notes about my experience with this pattern:
  • The walking foot was so helpful when sewing through all the layers of interfacing. Also, a heavy-duty needle was a must.
  • I goofed up the zipper and sewed too close to the teeth. (Blame it on all those invisible zippers I've gotten used to sewing.) After taking these photos, I had to rip apart the whole bag and re-sew the zipper so it would open and close properly.
  • The crayon folio pattern and this one involve cutting one long rectangle for the main body of the bag. If you're using a directional print, be aware of the direction of your pattern. I messed up again on this one, but fortunately I had enough fabric and wanted to add that contrasting panel along the bottom. Either you'll need to buy more fabric so you can lay it out properly, or you'll need to seam things a little differently than the pattern instructs.
  • All my fabric came from JoAnn. I didn't have major coupons, and together things cost around $15 for all the fabric and interfacing. The thinsulate is expensive, so one way to keep costs down would be to exclude that part.
Until August 9th Gingercake's lunch box patterns are only $5! Virginia's generously offering a free lunch bag pattern to one of our readers -- just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for an opportunity to win. (Enter up until August 10th at midnight.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Completed: Mash-up Tank Dress

In the past few years I've taken to combining knit tops with woven skirts, and the result is my go-to dress. 

There are just more fabric options available with woven fabric, and I can't beat the comfort of a knit top. 

Here's my latest edition of this staple -- it's a mash-up of Simplicity 1358 and the Moneta Dress from Colette Patterns.

I've done a similar combination with the Renfrew top (Sewaholic) and a self-drafted skirt, but I decided to try a different bodice this time. It's a little too roomy in the top, so next time I'll probably return to the Renfrew.

As for the skirt, it was much easier to use the Moneta Dress's skirt portion than to draft my own. The length and width of this skirt is just right. I didn't add pockets because of the delicacy of the fabric.

I constructed the bodice of the dress in the traditional way -- it's banded and unlined.

I sewed the skirt lining and main skirt separately. The main skirt is constructed with French seams (it's sheer). Once each piece was fully sewn and hemmed, I serged them together at the top. Then I measured a length of 1/2" elastic (using my waist/comfort as a guide) and sewed it to the top of the skirt with a zig-zag stitch. Then I serged the bottom of the bodice and joined the skirt top and bodice.

it's got twirl factor!

Pattern: Simplicity 1358 (bodice) and Colette Moneta (skirt)
Modifications: lengthened bodice - based on waistline, cut and added 2" to the length (I didn't read the assembly instructions of this pattern.)
Fabric: lightweight organic knit from my stash (bodice), Bemberg rayon from Joann (skirt lining), clearance sheer blend fabric from Joann (skirt main)
I sewed the Colette Moneta last week in knits, following the instructions and making no alterations to the pattern. Originally it was going to be my "wearable muslin" and this was going to be my Main Moneta.

BUT, I didn't like the Moneta. The boatneck top wasn't flattering on me, and several things in the construction of the garment turned me off. Maybe I'll try it again with no collar and sleeves this winter. Maybe.

Overall I'm pleased with this dress. It's got plenty of ease in the waist, which means I'll likely wear a belt with it (which I would anyway). It's comfortable and practical. The styling options are pretty endless, too.


On blog photos: taking photos of finished projects for myself for the blog is so challenging. (That's not counting the actual writing of the post.) Finding a time of day, location with decent lighting, and getting made up -- it's a pain. My remote doesn't work unless I'm inches from the camera. This morning I figured out that I can put the camera on the tripod, frame things up, and Lee can stand behind the camera and press the button on the remote to take the photo. It's not ideal, but it works. I'm telling you this so I remember in 10 years how much effort this took and how helpful my kid was in the photo-taking part. :) 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tested: Claire PJs by Cottage Mama

This week The Cottage Mama released her newest pattern: The Claire Pajamas. I tested these a couple of weeks ago and want to share my (Eliza's) version with you.

Here's the pattern's description:
The Claire Pajamas are the quintessential classic sleepwear pattern. The pattern includes several options such as a full-length nightgown with long or short sleeves, as well as a two-piece pajama ensemble, including a top with long or short sleeves paired with pants. This pattern also contains a matching 18″ doll pattern for all design options.

I sewed up the short-sleeved top and pants option.

Sewing for Eliza is so hit-and-miss these days. I'm getting better at predicting what she'll like, but I'm still reluctant to spend copious time on an ensemble that I have to beg her to wear.

This time we went together to pick out fabric for her pajamas to allow her to feel involved in the process. It was a lot of fun. She's such a hoot, and listening to her "ooh" and "ahh" over trims and fabrics was super amusing. I told her it needed to be from the flannel row, and she immediately landed on the tiny stars. With a bit of help from me guiding her to all the coordinating larger-scale prints, she picked the rabbits. She also chose the flower buttons. Girl's got style.

Lindsay narrowed the shoulders, narrowed the width of the top, and shrank the bibs on the smaller sizes after testing. I sewed the 3T for Eliza (she was at the smaller end of the chart for this size), and the lengths were exactly what I'd expect. With the minor tweaks Lindsay made, I think the fit will be spot on in the final version.

Isn't this design adorable? Someone described it as "Little House on the Prairie-style." I know we'll use this pattern over and over, especially if Eliza gets an American Girl doll and wants matching outfits. (Oh, the cuteness possibilities. I die.)

My favorite parts: the tiny ruffle around the bib, the cuffs on the pants, the elastic sleeves, and the contrasting fabric inside the elastic waistband. 

As always, it was a pleasure testing for Lindsay. She designs adorable clothes, sure, but more importantly she is open to suggestions and truly appreciates the time and financial commitment of testers and those who purchase and sew her patterns.

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