WWWHHHAAATTT!?! – The Minions – Part 2

DSCN2582I had already spent the appropriate amount of time worrying about making this minion shirt so it was easy to get started on it.

I really wanted this shirt to sew together without any problems, so I decided to take my time and think things through carefully. So after laundering and ironing the fabric , it was time to start cutting.

I cut very carefully and added the alterations that I wanted to the pattern as I cut. I was quite selective about the interfacing I chose to use and I went ahead and cut it out too.

DSCN2584As I started to sew, I realized that I did make one cutting/design error, well not really an error, but a small change to the design. In my mind, the shirt had the minion fabric on the right and the blue on the left, but I had cut the left front from the minion fabric and the right front from the blue fabric. Mmmmmm, was this going to look ok? After much thought, I decided it would look fine, and maybe better because the buttons would be on the solid blue fabric instead of lost in the the minions fabric.

DSCN2581The sewing when smoothly. I took my time and tried the shirt on after each step. I also ironed each seam carefully as it was sewn. As I serged the edges of the sleeves, preparing them to be hemmed, I did not notice that I I was running out of thread on one of my loopers. Once the looper ran out of thread, my serged edge was ruined. Luckily, I had debated about cutting 1/2 inch off the length of the sleeves and had not done so yet. So, I cut the 1/2 inches off the length of the sleeves ridding me of the bad serged edge, threaded new spools of thread on my loopers and serged the new edges.

With the sewing on of the final button, I declared the shirt done and tried it on. The fit seemed to be good, but as I looked at myself in the mirror, the shirt needed to be something else. The right blue front was just that, blue. I grabbed some scraps and started adding to the blue front piece.

DSCN2493At first, I wanted to add a stripe of minion fabric down the blue front, but that was too much of an accent. I thought about digitizing a minion embroidery design. But since I was too excited about wearing the shirt, and it would take time to perfect the design and I wanted to wear the shirt now. My next thought was a pocket. This would not be a functioning pocket, just something for show, so it would not have to be any certain size or style. I decided to make a temporary pocket and see how it looked pinned on.

DSCN2496To make the pocket, I cut out two squares of fabric and then rounded the corner on one end. Next, with right sides together, I sewed completely around the two modified squares. Next, I made a small cut in the fabric that would be inside the pocket. I turned the pocket right side out through this slit. After a lot of pressing, with a little seam to seam, I mended the cut that I made in the pocket to turn it inside out. This worked well and I had a finished pocket. Since I will not be putting anything in this pocket, I am not worried about the seam to seam mending holding up with wear and tear.

Placing the pocket on the blue front, I liked it, then with another look, I did not, then after a few minutes, I liked it again.

Argh!

DSCN2498I turned to the husband for his opinion and he said that he did like the pocket, so I sewed the pocket to the front of the shirt. I am still up in the air as to wether I like the pocket or not but it is sewn to the shirt for now.

The shirt has passed the “wear” test and I really like it. My alterations seem to be good. This shirt is fun to wear and is very comfortable.

It also makes me crave bananas for some reason…

Until next time, sew forth and banana on!

WWWHHHAAATTT!?! – The Skulls – Part 1

Despicable-me-minions-480x477Its what I want for Christmas. I told the husband that all I wanted for Christmas this year was a minion. Now, not one of those little ones from McDonald’s or a plush one, or even one of those plastic ones that talk. I wanted a really live, living, breathing minion. And, of course, I don’t want my minion to be lonely while I’m at work so I had better have a couple of minions. The husband said he would see what he could do but in the meanwhile I decided to satisfy my minion need with some minion fabric.

When I saw the minion fabric at Walmart, I knew that I just had to have it. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to make from it, but I just knew that I must have some. I purchased 1 yard and brought it home. The fabric sat on the cutting table while I debated what I wanted to make from it. I thought about all kinds of fun kid’s clothes that I could make from it, but instead I only wanted it for myself, so I decided to make myself a shirt from it.

Because let’s be honest here… Who doesn’t need a minion shirt?

DSCN2591Before I could cut into the minion fabric, I found myself fabric shopping again when I ran across this banana fabric. Seriously, it was bananas! BANANA! So of course, I needed some banana fabric to go with my minion fabric so I purchased one yard of the banana and headed home. Once I was home, I placed it next to the minion fabric on the cutting table. And I thought I was all ready to go. But, before I could cut into the minion fabric or the banana fabric, I found myself scoping out Walmart’s fabric department again, only to find a different minion fabric that I liked better for my shirt than the first minion piece, so one yard of this second minion fabric made it way to my cutting table as well.

DSCN2586Finally all set and before I could go fabric shopping again, I decided it was time to design and make my minion shirt. I quickly decided to make one front from the second minion fabric that I had picked up, the collar and sleeves from the banana fabric and then to find some blue in the stash for the other front side and the back. After laundering and ironing the fabric, I pulled my sloper pattern from the closet, only to remember that I was in the process of altering my basic sloper.

Augh!

I did not want to cut into my precious minion and banana fabric with a pattern that needed it’s alterations tested.

DSCN2585So, I folded up my minion and banana fabric and pulled some fabric from the stash to test my alterations on. I like the colors of this fabric a lot but it has not become a shirt till now because it is very thin. I was skeptical of how it would wear being so thin, but I decided that since this was a test shirt, I would go ahead and use this fabric to give it a try.

So I cut out my altered pattern and I started to sew it up.

The sewing went smoothly. I was afraid that my machine would argue about sewing this thin fabric but all went well, and soon it was time to sew buttonholes and buttons. Sitting on the top of my button box was some sugar skull buttons that the husband got me awhile back when I needed skull buttons for the girl’s cross back tops. I laid the buttons out on the shirt. They did not really match but they looked fun, so why not. Again, this was just a test shirt.

DSCN2589Rather than picking out just one design of sugar skulls, I sorted through the pack of buttons and picked five different designs. When I sewed the buttons on, each button had its holes in a different spot. One button’s holes were vertical, one was horizontal, and the others were at a variety of angles. This presented a challenge to sew the buttons on straight. I had to measure and turn the fabric every which way to keep the skulls on the buttons right side up. Luckily with some patience and time, I got the buttons sewn on correctly.

DSCN2590I have had a chance to give this shirt a “wear test” and it passed just fine. There were a couple of small alterations that are needed to the armscye and button placement but I had solved the fitting problem at the neck from my last shirt made from this pattern.

But the good news is that I feel good enough about my alterations to my pattern to start the minion shirt as my next project.

Until then, sew forth and BANANA on!

Silly Rabbit! Crocheting is for Long Car Trips!

DSCN2318What better way to whittle away the time of a long car trip than to work on a crochet project? Since I had a long car trip coming up, my next amigurumi project needed to be something that I could crochet in the car. This meant I needed a project that was larger in size than I normally do. A project who’s pieces could be crocheted now and stuffed later and wouldn’t need any stuffing during the crocheting process. A project with a simple count, not a lot of increases and decreases to keep count of or to loose count of when distracted. And, a project that was made from just a few colors so there would be less yarn to carry. After a bit of searching, I came across this bunny pattern. And since it seemed to meet all of my criteria for a car crocheting project, I was soon all packed up and ready to go!

DSCN2324As I crocheted the pieces of this amigurumi, it did meet the needed criteria. The pieces were coming out a nice size while crocheting with my favorite G size hook. The pieces did not need to be stuffed as I crocheted them which was nice. And except for the soles of the feet, and the increases in the head for the cheeks, the piece’s counts were even and it did not take a lot of concentration to keep the count correct. With just two colors needed, I only had to work with two skeins of yarn to crochet all the pieces. Plus, the opening of the head was large enough that I could complete the crocheting of the head and still get the safety eyes and nose put in later. This was truly a great car project!

DSCN2322Upon arriving home, it was easy to start the stuffing and the stitching together of this bunny. The pieces stuffed nicely, and soon I was pulling the button joints. Button joints are becoming one of my favorite ways to attach amigurumi project arms and legs. I did have one problem with pulling the button joints. Some how I got a knot in the stuffing or yarn as I was pulling the leg joints. It left a small dent in the bunny’s belly where it pulled. I tried to undo what I had done but I couldn’t. I tugged and pulled the bunny’s belly, trying to work the dent out but I had little luck with that. I finally decided to just leave the dent and to learn my lesson of being more careful as I pulled the yarn for future button joints.

DSCN2327When it came to the smile, I tried several different styles, including an open smile with a top and bottom lip using two strands of yarn but a simple line with a little curve was the best. I opted for a fluffy white pompom for the tail rather than the crocheted tail like the pattern called for and I also left off the belly spot that the pattern had. The bunny in the pattern had a crocheted purple spot on his belly. I crocheted the circle but when it came time to stitch it on, I did not like the look on my bunny, so my bunny does not have a belly spot.

DSCN2329A name for this bunny never came to me through the entire crocheting and stitching process, but the husband quickly named the finished bunny Trix because it reminded him of Trix the Rabbit from the cereal, so this bunny’s name is Trix.

He was very fun to make and he turned out just adorable in the end.

He also made a long car ride much more enjoyable. I don’t have another car trip planned for the near future but if I did I would probably make another one of these bunnies!

Until then, crochet forth and ride on!

Invested

DSCN1372DSCN2485 (1)Do you ever have a pattern speak to you when you see it?

Me! Me! Me! Sew me next! Sew me next! Pick me! Pick me!

Well, this pattern did not just speak to me, it screamed at me!

The minute I saw this free vest pattern on the internet, I abandoned all of my other sewing plans. Since I could not ignore its request to be sewn next, a boy’s vest became my next sewing project.

DSCN2491DSCN2492What caught my attention about this vest pattern was the endless creative possibilities that it presented. From the fabric I would use to make this vest, to the type of pockets I would sew, to the embroidery and details I would stitch, there were dozens of designs decisions to be made.

First off, I picked the fabric. I choose some sport weight scraps for the outer layer of this vest and some flannel for the lining. I questioned using flannel for the lining. The smooth slippery fabric of a lining helps with taking an item on and off. Flannel is not smooth or slippery and would actually make it more difficult to pull an item on and off. But, since this is a vest, i.e. without sleeves, I figured the flannel would be fine to use. Plus, it would add a layer of warmth to the vest, and as an added bonus, I would be using some of the flannel hiding in the stash and most importantly, I could incorporate the print of the flannel with the embroidery design I would be sewing. So, it was not difficult to pick the dinosaur flannel fabric for the lining and a dinosaur embroidery design.

DSCN1364DSCN1365When it came to deciding on pockets, I liked the patch pockets that were used on the pattern so I decided to make them. The pockets are not just typical patch pockets so there would probably be something new for me to learn from sewing them.

I started the process by downloading the pattern, printing it out, taping it together, cutting it out, and then throwing it away. Yes, you read that right. I threw it away.

DSCN1373DSCN2488As I laid the pattern pieces on the fabric, I did not like the way they looked at all. I couldn’t get the shoulder seams to match and the armscye looked misshaped. I could see many problems occurring during the sewing process using that pattern and I did not want to waste my time or fabric on a doomed project.

I was disappointed to say the least.

I was so excited to make this vest and I had already put so much planning into it’s design that I did not want to just abandon the project. So I turned to my pattern stash. Lying right on top was a jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902.

Could I possibly use this jacket pattern to make a vest by just leave the sleeves off?

DSCN2487DSCN2486 (1)I did not know the answer to this question but I was certainly willing to find out. I began to cut out the pieces for this vest from it. Since I was going to use buttons instead of a zipper, I added an extra 1 inch to the front pieces. I also ironed on a strip of interfacing to this extra inch to strengthen it for the buttons.

My first step in the sewing process was to sew the pockets on the front of the vest. Embroidering the dinosaur design was next. Then I sewed the shoulder seams and collar. It was then that I realized I should have reversed these steps. The collar is slightly covering the top the embroidery design. If the design had been any bigger, it would have been hidden under the collar. Next time, I will sew the shoulder seams and attach the collar first and then embroider the design placing it so the collar is not in its way. Then I will attach the pockets last.

DSCN1368DSCN1369This way I will have no problem hooping the fabric for the embroidering without the pockets on the front, and after embroidering, I can place the pockets over the fabric that was hooped.

The original vest pattern had a bottom band. I liked the look of the band so I decided to keep it on this vest, so I cut the vest and lining 2 inches shorter than the pattern called for to accommodate the bottom band. Because of the bottom band, it was easy to sew the lining to the vest. With right sides together, I sewed around the vest and lining before sewing the side seams then turned it inside out and sewed the side seams. After a lot of pressing, I sewed the band to the front side of the vest and lining and then folded it to the back and stitched in the ditch to finish up the band.

DSCN1374DSCN2490 (1)The last step was to sew the buttonholes and buttons. I sewed vertical buttonholes so that my buttonholer would not have to move over the pockets. I don’t believe that vertical buttonholes will make a difference in how the vest wears.

In the end the vest turned out absolutely adorable!

I just love it, and it was so much fun to design and make that I can’t wait to make another one. I have not given this vest to anyone yet so I do not have a “wear test” to tell me whether a jacket without sleeves makes for an acceptable vest, but it looks good to me. I could always make the armscye a little bigger on the next vest to ease my mind and the fit.

So until the next time, sew forth and vest on!

The Sunflower’s Belly Button

DSCN2361Meet Sunflower the lion, my latest amigurumi project. Even though I have not had this lion pattern for very long, I felt that it met my current crocheting criteria of being a pattern that I wanted to make but that I had not gotten around to making yet. So, I picked this lion as my next project.

DSCN2363It was easy to pick the colors for this lion and soon enough I was crocheting away. The pattern called for paws to be made at the ends of the arms and legs during the crocheting process. I thought it would work better to save the paw making step for the end when stitching the arms and legs on after stuffing them, but I was incorrect. After stuffing and stitching the arms and legs to the body, I tried to pull the yarns to form the paws but I did not like the results so I took the yarns out and left this lion paw-less.

DSCN2333When I crocheted the mane, I forgot that this pattern does not count the magic ring as row 1. I had crocheted all the orange mane and had started on the brown mane when I realized that each of my pieces was missing a row. This explained why my mane was coming out so rounded instead of spiked like the pictures in the pattern showed. I did not like the rounded mane so I started again. I counted correctly the second time and soon had both an orange and brown spiked mane which I liked much better.

DSCN1222I thought that stitching the mane on would be difficult. But the pattern had nice instructions of where to stitch the mane, and it fit nicely where it was suppose to go, not too big or too small to fit around the head. This lion was named as I stitched his mane to his head. His orange and brown spiky mane on his yellowish brown head reminded me of a sunflower, so he was promptly named Sunflower. Now, I know Sunflower is not a proper name for the king of the jungle, and I tried to rename this lion to something more appropriate several times but nothing fit him quite like the name Sunflower.

DSCN1240Upon completing Sunflower, I handed him to the husband. After turning Sunflower around a couple of times, the husband handed the lion back to me and said, “He needs something.” Ok, what? The husband thought for a moment and then said, “Give him a belly button.” A belly button? Lions don’t have a belly button! That was crazy. Give the lion a belly button? What was the husband thinking? Ok fine, I’ll give him a belly button and it will look stupid. To prove my point, I stitched a brown belly button to the lion and see… It’s really cute.

DSCN2364Sunflower was a lot of fun to make. He turned out really cute, especially his belly button, but don’t tell the husband I said that. He did not take as long to make as I expected, but he was not a simple project either. Now, I just need to find him a good home.

Until then, crochet forth and belly button on!

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!