Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweetling Refashioned Summer Outfit: Dress Section Completed

After working diligently for the last week with whatever spare time I could fine (and several nights of staying up too late and getting up too early), I completed the Summer outfit's dress.  I was going to try to rush through the jacket, but decided better not to.  The first entry of this outfit, which shows the original romber this dress is made from is HERE.

I made several changes to the pattern I was using given the limitted amount of cloth and how I wanted the dress to look.  The skirt is just long rectangles, eeking as much useable material from the original romper's larger leg pieces.  I didn't have enough for the fullness I had hoped ot achieve, so I dug around to find some extra cotton cloth that could act as a panel.  I figured white or pale pink, though I nearly ended up using a bright yellow when I couldn't find my stash of plain cotton broadcloths.  Luckily, I looked in one last bin that I uncovered just before I started laying out the yellow, and behold!  My pale pink cotton!

Unfortunately, the pink cotton was quite a bit thinner than the romper cloth, which would probably not cease to bother me.  I decided to double the cotton and embroider the pieces together, using the block-stamp design of the romper cloth as my guide.  The pink cotton was thin enough that I traced the design on one panel.  After the two pieces were embroidered together, the heaviness/thickness was perfect.

Hand embroidered front skirt panel.
A few other changes I made were that I added a gathered ruffle (three LONG pieces of pink cotton folded over for a nice puffy ruffle) and had a center seem in the back which allowed me to not bother with the extra steps the pattern called for.  (If I do make this pattern again, which I plan to, and do it with new fabric or a long piece, I may try following the pattern instructions word for word, just to see how different it would turn out.)  Of course, as can be seen, I also added a flower, which was free and slightly damaged in the center.  No worries there for me, since I was going to pop off the plastic center anyways.  :-)

To show fullness, the skirt is over her Bumbo Seat.
 Most of the time I used to make this dress was spent unpicking the original romper, figuring out how I was going to lay out the pattern and what alterations were necessary or desired, and then hand embroidering the front panels together.  The rest was fast and easy.  The dress is a little loose, which is exactly what I wanted so that she can continue wearing it for at least part of the summer.

Criss-cross back.
Though I have the jacket, hat, and diaper cover to make for this (the hat and diaper cover will be in the pale pink cotton), I am going to have to take a break from this outfit to make something for my son.  I'm hoping to make him something to wear to the Maryland Faery Festival, but am uncertain as to what.  After that, I jump back into finishing off the jacket and then the additional two pieces.  :-)

She was so sleepy.  :-)

The flower was perfect; the center is a sparkly button that matches the ones in the back.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sweetling Refashion Summer Outfit: The Beginning

I recently joined the Refashioning Co-op to help get and keep me inspired.  So far, so good.

As I go through my clothes and my children's clothes, I'm making a pile of items to make into other things.  Donating is great and all, but some of the items have small stains here and there (from the kids or from the previous owners) and most donation places would just toss them, so why not remake them into something else that we can use?  So I'm working on various ideas and how to impliment them... and figuring out what the chance is that I'd actually follow through on some of these ideas.

Right now, I'm working on a summer dress for my daughter.  I took a romper that was a hand-me-down from my oldest sister (who received it as a hand-me-down from her neighbor for her own daughters).  Honestly, I found it very... clownish.  My sister apparently did to, since she mentioned that she never had her daughters wear it either.  But I did see some potential in it.  (I apologize for the images in advance.  They are a little dark, but we can't find the cords for our good camera in order to download the images.  I may tinker with these images to get a better idea of the colors, but for now, it they will have to do.)

original Romper (front and back)
The main material is a bright white with block stamp style butterflies and tulips (and a few dirt marks that I will Oxyclean out later).  I figured it would make a cute Spring and Summer outfit.  The collar, cuffs, bum ruffle and bow are all a very cute pink with polka dot cloth.  I plan to make a white dress using those as detailing.  I am a sucker for polka dots.  Below are the pieces, including the elastics and some of the longer pieces of thread.

broken down to pieces
(pieces of similar shape, like the legs and torso back, are placed on top of each other)
I plan to make a light jacket, dress, perhaps a hat and diaper cover.  As a base for the dress and hat, I'm using Mccalls 4424 infant dress and hat.  I've loved this pattern since I first saw it (long before I really thought I'd have kids) and I figured this was a great opportunity to test it out.  The jacket will be from the romper's original torso design with a few modifications and the diaper cover will be figured out later (whether I choose to use this pattern, another, or just forgot it all together).
McCalls 4424
I don't have enough of the main fabric for the dress torso lining and the skirt, so I dug through my cloth stash and found some thin pink broadcloth and some bright yellow cotton.  I opted for the former, though I may have to bulk up the cloth a little to make it appear less thin (the romper cloth was a bit heavier a cotton).  I also have the original romper's buttons that I'm debating to use for the jacket and a huge pink flower I found that I will use as added detailing.  I chose to buy some transparent pink ribbon in two shade I may turn into ruffles for addition softness.

I'm not using the pattern for the skirt, instead just cutting rectangles (two in the printed romper fabric and one in the pink broadcloth) and will be adding a large ruffle in the pink broadcloth as well.  Sorry if all of this isn't exactly clear, but it will make more sense when the dress is done.

My goal with this outfit is to have the jacket and dress done by Easter regardless of whether we choose to have my daughter wear it for the Holiday or at some point that weekend.

There are a few concerns I have.  I worry that the dress won't fit right.  My daughter is 4 months old, but is the max for the pattern's size Medium, so I'm making it in a size Large (for 9-12 months olds!).  I also worry that it will end up looking less that what my standards dictate.  I have high expectations of myself.  And though I'm harder on my own creations than I am on other peoples, I feel a small sense of "what the heck" when I see people taking items and remaking them into subpar pieces, things I'm halfway sure they wouldn't wear or use, but rather threw together just to say, "Look what I made."  I'm not into that, and hope that my refashioned items don't turn out that way, because really that would make me feel like a huge hypocrite... and that would suck.  So, I guess we'll see how this goes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Creativity in the Works (aka. the Stitch-Itch)

Here's a list of projects I plan to work on as I get more situated and settled (and get my work stations set up) in my new apartment:
  • Set up a sewing/textile work station.  I'm thinking of using part of the "dining room" for this.
  • Set up a painting work area (though this may be a mostly "on the balcony" sort of thing.
  • Work on the commissioned portrait.  I need to find the supplies and reference materials, but that's covered in part by bullet #2.
  • Sort textile project supplies, which will also include items to be remade into other things.  Items needing to be mended will likely go here too, but in a "special" section to get priority (for the most part).
I am very inspired to by MADE of late.  Through that website, I also found Wardrobe Refashion, which is also inspiring, especially the challenge (with cute little button graphics to encourage you to stay on track).  And through that website, just as I'm writing this entry, I found Refashion Co-op which I hope to peruse more thoroughly.

I've wanted to remake various clothing items into new pieces for myself and my family, but kept holding back.  There were a number of factors involved: lack of space, lack of time, hesitancy for whatever reason.  But the urge has continued to increase.  Now I feel I can start.  And with the ideas on the sites listed above, I feel nearly ready.  The first project I might do, just to flex my "sewing muscles" is to transform a maternity shirt I have into a full outfit for my little girl.  I love that shirt because the cotton is soft and the color and fabric design is pleasing.  Stripes (which I'm a sucker for) in dark and medium blue.  So I am thinking about turning it into ruched leggings (using the tutorial from MADE) and a summer dress with ruffles for my daughter.  After that, I might make either a stuffed dragon for my son out selvage cloth, a shirt for him out of one of my old goth shirts, or a fairy outfit for my daughter's Faerie Festival dress out of a pink "special occasion" dress I have and only used a couple times.  Or... I can start piecing together a couple toddler quilts for both my kids.  As can be seen, I'm still a little undecided.  I also plan to make a number of cat toys.  :-)

As I posted on Facebook the other day, I've got the "stitch-itch" and I hope to get working on my projects soon.  :-)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Toddler Renfest Jacket: Finished

I've been so busy with life that I haven't had time to update here.  The pregnancy, then birth of my daughter, and my relocation for my job just ate up most of my time and energy.

Regardless, I did complete my son's Renfest "Elfling" Jacket.

Here are the pictures of the jacket when we made our trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival in early Fall 2010.  It was mostly complete, though the leaves still needed to be attached.  I was also going to add a cluster of keys to the hood's point but decided against it.  But the couching embroidery was complete and added a really nice touch to the jacket.  (Click here to see the jacket before the couching was done.)  Unfortunately, the weather was too warm when we went to MDRF for him to wear the jacket, but playing in my oldest sister's back yard the next morning was chilly, so he got to wear it then.  He had tried it on prior to this, and loved it, but this was an even better test run of the jacket.  He was very obviously happy and comfortable in it.  Warm on it's own but also roomy enough to layer on top of a hoodie or jacket for extra warmth in needed.  The range of movement it allowed was also perfect for a very active toddler.

And below is a picture from Halloween with him wearing the completed jacket.  I hope to find (or get) more pictures where the leaves are more visable, but you can see that the texture they added to the jacket.  They were very easy to make (each hand cut) and stitch on.  All the embroidery and each leaf was were handstitched.

The jacket was a hit, both with my son and with others.  My friend who owns Artifacts Boutique said I ought to make them to sell (both for Halloween, Festivals, and Christmas) and recommended I talk to one of her friends who owns a children's clothing store.  Yet I'm in no hurry for such things.  I used to make the wandcases for Mom Crosewl's Magic Shop at MDRF every year for several years while also working on various custom costume orders for a number of LARPers, Rennies, and Ebayers... It's nice to make things for myself and my family, with no real time limits except my own, no real pressure, on a whim and just for fun.  Accepting orders because I want to.

Another friend of mine thought I actually bought the jacket at a renfest.  Now... I tend to have mixed feelings about garments you find at renfest.  A few are places I recomment (like Moresca) because of the quality of their pieces, but most are not near my level of standards.  I know this may make me sound like a snob when it comes to buying costuming especially at festivals, but it's hard not to be when I know what to look at (in design, fit, fabric... quality and durability... straight stitches, clean lines, and properly snipped thread ends... and so on).  So when I sew, I try to keep my work well above what you would find at festivals.  Most of their stuff would be below the quality of my rushed prototypes.  We all have to have our personal standards, and this is mine.  That's not to say I don't give a lot of credit to people who sew, especially beginners... I just have a problem when it seems people being overcharged at festivals for what they are getting simply because the vast majority of shoppers don't know better.  But I believe that the comment was meant as a compliment, because for most people it is.  And that's how I will take it.  :-)

Now I'm working on figuring out some designs for other projects I hope to start and working out details on ongoing projects as well.  I will write about those soon.