Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vogue 1395

I am often drawn to Rebecca Taylor's designs when new Vogue patterns are released. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, especially after several versions and reviews of it started popping up! My friend Jenn picked it up for me during a sale and in the same box she sent that, she sent this awesome polka-dot rayon she'd texted me about when she was at JoAnn's once. I asked for three yards and knew it would be perfect for this dress!

 Lots of reviewers had some issues with this pattern. Most said the armholes were low and almost everyone said the narrow hems on the ties were impossible. I didn't have a problem with the narrow hems, as Vogue's method is the one I almost always use anyway, especially on curves, so I've had lots of practice with the method. As for the fit, when I tried this on, I thought it was a wadder. The shoulders slid way backward, my bra showed through the arm holes and when I shifted it all forward to where it was supposed to be, the ties no longer covered the elastic waistline! Oh and the sleeves stuck straight out because they are bound, not just hemmed. But I tried it on again the next day and ended up just taking extra chunks out of the shoulders/sleeves (big chunks, I pinched over an inch out of each one.) This fixed all the problems completely. I think it'll be a new favorite for sure.
 The construction is different, but I do think the instructions were written with beginners in mind, although I still think beginners would need help on some of the techniques. Some things you just don't understand 'til you've done them. Just follow directions and you'll be fine!

So while this dress might be a new fave, I'm struggling with what to do with my old faves!! Some of the handmade dresses in my closet are ready to be phased out, but boy, is it hard to get rid of handmade things!!! Some of them I'll try to refashion or at least use the fabric for smaller items, if not clothing. My style has evolved quite a bit this year and some of those dresses aren't really the current "me". Time to let go, but it is hard to give away my hard work!

Oh, and you totally wanted to see a picture of a snail before I left you, right??
You're welcome :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Simplicity 1887 ... Second version

Sometimes the stars aline and the idea, the fabric and the pattern for something just fall right into place without trying. This is one of those! I had pinned a couple of polka dot skirts (this one and this one) on my Pinterest Style board. Shortly after that, I stumbled on a great polka-dot cotton twill(ish) fabric at June's and right after that, I made this success of a skirt. I knew right away I'd use the same pattern for my own polka-dot skirt.

I really love this. I think it's very on trend and can be worn in many ways. I've seen similar skirts worn with button down tops, which I'm wanting to make more of anyway, after my whale shirt turned out so great. I underlined it with white cotton, which was sufficient enough for the see-through factor, although I still wear nude unmentionables with it.  (FYI, many women think white undergarments must be worn with white bottoms, but this is not the case! White can still be seen, it's nude colored undies that's the key. That was free advice, you're welcome ;)

I omitted the pleats on this version by simply folding them out of the pattern piece when I cut out my fabric. Other than that, no changes were made and I really love this pattern for all the same reasons I listed with my first version! The elastic in part of the waistband, the pockets, the casual Summer length. Love it!

I have a turquoise twill and am debating yet another skirt from this pattern. But I just made a pair of orange shorts that turned out pretty great too so I'm debating another pair of those with the turquoise. What to do, what to do?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Casey's on the mainland for a couple weeks, wah! He's be gone so many times in the past, but it's actually been awhile now since the last time he was out of town, so I'm out of practice. I'm still new here too, so that doesn't help. We're all fine, though, keeping busy and having good days.

Right before he left, I had him help me take my vanity apart so I could paint it! My dad bought this vanity for me at an estate sale (or something) when I was a young teenager and spent weeks hiding out in the garage in the evenings, painting it and making it nice for my birthday. It's one of my favorite things!

After so many years, several moves (still shocked the mirror is still in tact) and spending 6 months in Layla's room in Virginia, the paint was in such rough shape. Proof:
 It wasn't a matter of just cleaning it because the oil based paint just stained so badly.
 Once I got it in my head to paint it, I assumed I'd just repaint it white. But, we have white walls and probably always will, as long as we are in the military. So I thought painting it a color would really help it pop out from the wall and make a statement!
 Here's an in-progress shot:

and here it is all finished:
This last photo is very true to the actual color. I LOVE how it turned out. It may seem like an odd color choice, but it really fits in with the rest of the room (you can sorta see in the mirror) and I think it's spectacular. A huge improvement and no longer a wall flower. It certainly stands out now! I'm sure my Dad is having heart palpitations knowing I painted over his hard work. Sorry, Dad!

I kept the metal knobs because Dad actually found those in my Grandpa's treasure-filled garage after he passed away and brought them from California to Colorado just for my vanity. I love that about them.

Some of you understand, once you have the paint bug ....

I was sitting in this rocking chair across from my vanity admiring my work, thinking how much better the chair would look with a makeover. I have this fabric in my stash. But I think it would look amazing if I painted the wood black, don't you?
What do you think? I know painting and recovering these things can be a pain. I texted Casey and asked if he thought I could spray paint my rocking chair and he said, "I have no doubt you could, lol".  It feels good that he has such faith in my skillz. Hahahaha!

Monday, July 21, 2014

McCall's 6702

I bought this gorgeous print cotton lawn at June Fabrics. It's from Japan, I was told and it's just so super pretty. I had been looking for a pattern that had this half placket type thing for a few weeks and I must have overlooked this one a bazillion times because the version on the pattern envelope is just SO BAD! So bad. Luckily, I spotted a made version on a blog (I can't remember which now, I'm sorry!) and ordered the pattern when they went on sale. I loved the rounded collar detail and the awesome cut-out back.

Mine turned out pretty great!

I changed the hemline because I don't like how hems cut shorter and straight across the front tend to make me look squat, whereas shirt tail hems tend to elongate. Everything else is right out of the envelope, although I should have done a swayback adjustment, as you can see below. I almost always do and I don't know why I forgot on this one! 
Just proof that the envelope version is really bad:

In other news, we made a desert in a pan today at school time. We went outside with our pan and cacti to dig in the dirt and all the little neighborhood girls wanted to help. It was so fun. We made some little clay snakes to put in there once they dry and we can paint them. But, anyway, check out this cactus flower!! It's SO cool, I just can't get over it. It has a donut center and zebra striped petals! It bloomed the day we brought it home. What a creative God we serve!

Friday, July 18, 2014

McCall's 6928

I got a yellow striped knit at my June Fabrics last weekend. I took the girls with me because they were just dying to see it and after they'd each chosen an Aloha fabric for a doll dress (in the first 3 minutes) they were ready to go. I took my sweet time, but it was not the same as shopping alone, so I only came home with one fabric and some lining.

I had ordered McCall's 6928, thinking I'd make the bow version, but view B caught my eye for this striped fabric, so I gave it a try.
I like the slight hi-lo hem and the pocket. I think the fit could use some work on my next version. Maybe take it in a little so it doesn't look quite so boxy and possibly lower the neckline. And I'll add length too, at least in the front. But this is still wearable and I like it.
 It's really comfortable, though and I think I like it. Casey said it looks like a cabana tent (I think he meant that in a good way, ha!) and Natalie said it looks like a clown shirt and that I should make some polka dot bottoms to go with it for Halloween. McDonald's might have also been mentioned. Or mustard? Hmmmm.

I think I'll try this pattern again in a smaller stripe and I also think it will be great for wovens too since i'ts loose enough.

I'll leave you with this photo from my balcony last night after it rained. It's so beautiful here. I'll never get tired of these views. Hawaii's skies are just the best you'll ever see. What Oahu lacks in wide open spaces, it makes up for in glorious skies.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

how I make time for sewing

I must share my new sun visor with you! Some of you may have seen this on Instagram, but the pattern is so great that I just have to share a link to the free tutorial. I set out looking for a pattern for this because I tan super easily and I try not to tan my face at all. I wear good sunscreen on my face, but it still tans and I was getting raccoon eyes from my sunglasses and my skin just wasn't looking pretty. I wanted a visor, not a hat because I wanted to be able to wear my hair up and hats always fit awkwardly with buns or ponytails.

It didn't take much searching to find this free tutorial. It's great because it's wide brimmed and covers the ears too!
Here's how mine turned out.

I can't wait to make a few more! I think I black linen one would be classy and nice. Especially once I find a fabric to try the Bombshell bathing suit pattern!

I was asked in the comments recently to possibly write a post on how I squeeze in so much time for sewing. I have thought about that questions all week!

I think there are a few things in my favor, such as being home most of the time, not having a busy schedule (I am extremely selective about extracurriculars for the kids and commitments for myself because I do not thrive on being overly busy), as well as being a pretty fast sewer. I've been afraid before that if I post too many sewn things, people will think I just ignore my kids and sew all day. Ha! That's obviously not the case. I think there are a few deeper reasons that I get a lot of sewing in too. My kids self-entertain really well. I think this is true of many homeschoolers, just because of our lifestyle. We do school in the morning hours, run an errand maybe, and then afternoons are free time. I exercise in the afternoons, get some sewing in if I want and then clean up the house and start dinner. That's our loose routine. I get more sewing time on the weekends, which again, we work hard at not booking too full to enjoy. Also, I enjoy good health and when you're not tired all the time, like many Americans these days, you have energy for things you like to do. I really think the reason people don't invest in hobbies is more that they're exhausted than that they don't have time!! So when they do have time, they can only veg out or sleep! If you feel like you never have energy for the things you want to do, I'd suggest taking a look at your health habits and make some small changes to your lifestyle. Lastly, I have a super hard time sitting around, that's just how I'm wired! Casey laughs because I can't even watch TV at night without some hand sewing or a crossword puzzle. It's a gift ... and a curse ;)

I've love to hear from some other women, working moms maybe, or people whose lives are different from mine about how you squeeze in time to sew!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bedroom redo and window tricks

I mentioned about awhile ago that I was wanting to give our bedroom a new look. So every week with my fun money, I bought a piece to replace an old piece. First I spotted the perfect bedspread and the rest all fell together in my mind after that. It's too pricey to do it all at once, though, so I just went back with my allowance every week or two and added the next thing. I'm loving how it looks now! My tastes have definitely evolved in the last year! I guess that's the fun part about moving a lot. You get to start from scratch with your decor if you want to. White walls aren't quite the nemesis I used to think them either. It helps that white walls are in style right now, just ask Pinterest ;)

 The bedspread, curtains and pillow shams are all from Target. I love Target. I'm so glad I have one here!! It's so pretty in there. Not like that other big store-that-shall-not-be-named. I think this is the first time ever that I have bought curtains from a store and not made them. (Actually, I found some Pottery Barn curtains at a thrift store once, if that counts.) I made the Virginia pillow out of a t-shirt Casey had bought me when he was training in Virginia several years ago and the Star Wars pillow case on his side, I made. Because I made a lot of novelty pillow cases for lots of kids for Christmas last year and he was totally jealous of the Star Wars ones. So I put one in his stocking :) It doesn't *go*. But we don't care. Ha!

Our bed is on a wall with a window. But there's a door to our lanai on one side that opens in, so the bed cannot be centered right under that window. Before we got curtains, it looked bad--so off-kilter. So I bought the floor-to-ceiling curtains, knowing we could fix this. Rather than framing the window with the curtains, we framed the bed, if that makes sense. You can see below that off-centered window and then see above how the curtains hide it. The curtain on the right is mostly covering wall, while the left curtain covers more of the window. Ta-da! Tricksy.

There are a few more things I'd like to do in here. I want to get those guitar photos printed and frame them up. And I have a beautiful white vanity that is in desperate need of repainting. I'm going to be brave and paint it a color so it will stand out from the white walls. It's going to be fabulous! Maybe a paint project is in order for when Casey leaves town next week. I just need him to haul it down for me first. And then I need to drag the kids to home depot for paint. And they will whine. Blerg.

Monday, July 14, 2014

a whale of a good time! hehe

I finished my humpback whale shirt and wore it to church yesterday with the skirt I just made. I really love this fabric, but I think I love the shirt so much because I made a button down that looks professional and fits awesome. I've made a button down shirt before, but the fit of that pattern wasn't quite right for me and I don't ever wear it :-/

I know soooo many people really love the Grainline Archer pattern, but before spending the money for an indie pattern, I wanted to try some that I had in my stash already. I made a muslin of McCall's 6436 and that's the one I ended up using.

The fit could not have been more perfect and I made no alterations! It helps that this is a pattern with cup sizes, of course.
 I used a darker turquoise thread that really adds interest to the top stitching. I almost went with orange buttons, but the whales are pretty whimsical in themselves. Orange buttons might have taken it to clown level, haha!
I'm excited to make more of this pattern. Button downs are so in style right now and I think if I make a few with sleeves they'll be a great alternative for cardigans this winter in Hawaii ... in the evenings when it drops below 70 ;)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

simple top and school room rescue

I think my clean sewing room has made me a sewing fool this week! I can't stop! Having some fabrics in my stash helps too, of course, thanks to Jenn's iPhone shopping and my new fabric store. Speaking of which, I snapped this iPhone pic when I was at June Fabrics. This is the gist of it. There's more behind me and lot more to my right. There is a huge shelf of lace trims and at the register, there are about a hundred peanut butter jars filled with buttons. Ha! In this pic, you can mostly only see Aloha fabrics, but there is so much more! Such a great place and the family who owns is is so nice and helpful and friendly, which is actually the reason I don't like going to the other fabric store in town--they are NOT nice, friendly or helpful. You wonder if they read their Yelp reviews, because I am not the only person who's scared of the people who work there, haha! Fabric shopping should be relaxing, am I right??
Anyway, I had a soft pink rayon knit in my stash from one of Jenn's boxes o' fabric. I finally made it up into my favorite knit tee, the same I used for my favorite feather tee, out of this pajama top pattern.
I think my neck binding turned out spectacular, if I may say so myself ;)

I'm wearing it here with a sweatshirt knit pencil skirt I made last year. So soft and comforable! I like to wear pink, I'm trying to buy more colors that make me feel pretty. Pink is surprisingly tough to find, though, unless you want sweet or floral prints, which I haven't been gravitating toward lately. 

In other news, because my main gig is actually NOT sewing, but is really homeschooling, believe it or not, I spent a few hours making our dining room school space more functional yesterday. 
I was using this little bookshelf for most of our school books and it was just flat overflowing! The shelves are too short to fit books upright, so everything was stacked and it was not working! 
 I knew I needed a bigger shelf, was fine with the super cheap kind, but Target has been out of the white ones ever since we moved in here! They finally got more in so I was able to change this out for the little one. (I think the message on the chalkboard is too cute.)
Under that bench is our record collection! Still so fun. A cheap, educational family hobby :) 

Added bonus, I now get to use the old shelf in my sewing room closet so my fabric has a home, hooray! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

where I'm sewing these days

I just realized this is my 800th post! Aw. I've never actually noticed any of these milestones before, ha! That's a lot of blogging. I started when I was pregnant with Layla, now 7 year old. A blog can become quite special to a person, no? Especially when one's hard drive erases all the backed up photos she felt so responsible for putting on it. That happened to me several months ago, but no worries ... all my faves are on the blog anyway :)

I thought I'd share my sewing room today! I rearranged and orgainized it over the weekend because Casey bought me a little smart TV for up there as an anniversary present. Our anniversary isn't for three weeks or so, but he's leaving town for the mainland for a couple weeks soon and thought it would be nice if I could spend my evenings up there watching Murder She Wrote, sewing and yapping at my kids to get back in bed ;)

Here's what it looks like for now:
 Some of my fabric, cottons and kid fabrics, are under the table in easy-view bins.

 Everyone needs a mirror in their sewing room!
 I have a walk-in closet!
 Yeah, I could use some shelves. These are my clothing and home dec fabrics.
 And this is the ginormous box that my girls have free reign over. I cleaned out my fabrics and was *this close* to donating this box, when the girls spotted it and went nuts. So it was kept and moved and I'm SO glad they have a pile of fabrics to use without having ask me if it's ok. Our upstairs landing ahs a built-in desk where we set up their sewing machine so they have a space to create too. They come up with some pretty great things!
 And I couldn't exclude the view out that sliding door. You can see some tiny tall buildings on the left edge and that is Waikiki. In case you're wondering.

Since we were offered a four bedroom house here, Casey pretty much insisted the girls share the huge fourth bedroom so I could have this little one for sewing. One of the girls in particular was not happy about this at all and I would have given in like a big softie, but he held his ground and I am so glad he did that for me! In the past my sewing spot has bounced around from guest room, to living room, to basement, to right inside the front door, so having a room of my own is a special treat, especially since our downstairs is basically one huge room and the noise levels get pretty up there!

I have great plans for this space to make it even better! I plan to paint the chair green and recover the seat part in a fun fabric. And recover the ironing board also. And hang some floor to ceiling curtains. We are going to mount the TV on that wall at some point and I'd like to buy some fun art from Etsy that I love, but wouldn't really fly in other parts of the house.
Like this Nancy Drew print! LOVE! (source)

And this Jane Austen quote: (source)

Among other such literary loves of mine. I am glad to have that closet so I can keep the room relatively uncluttered. I love looking at great sewing room ideas on Pinterest and I've found my favorites are those that look clean and don't have wall-to-wall bookcases of fabrics and notions (although that can be so pretty too!)

Put your best sewing room organization and storage tips in the comments! What are your favorites thing in your sewing spot?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

how many of the same pattern can you make before people notice?

My friend Jenn went iPhone fabric shopping for me again and one of the things she sent was this lovely gray twill. I really wanted to make some casual shorter skirts and shorts and especially something to go with my whale shirt (buttons arrived yesterday!) so I got to work on this gray twill right away.

I chose Simplicity 1887, view E
I've had this pattern for a long time, but I remember reading reviews about the shorts having way too much ease and looking rather clownish so I'd put it aside. I pulled it out and thought I'd give the skirt a try and you can see that I did modify it a little:
 I REALLY love how this turned out! It was surprisingly fast to make because it doesn't have a zipper. More on that at the end.
 This fabric has the perfect amount of stretch for a casual skirt and the length is great for my lifestyle here. I have definitely had to rethink sewing functional clothing here in Hawaii because one day can see me at a lunch with Casey's work crowd and hiking a mountainside without a change of clothes. Also, layers, linings, pants and camis are OUT! It's too humid for any of that and the weather remains pretty consistent year round.
 So about those pleats. The pleats in the front and the elastic in the back really made the skirt sit funny. It ballooned out in front and then pulled the hemline up in the back! So I started by sort of pinning and topstitching 4 inches or so down those pleats. That helped a little, but I still didn't like how it ballooned away from my body, it looked weird from the side. So I pinned and topstitched those pleats all the way down to the hemline.  And it worked!!! The fit is beautiful now and the stitching added great detail to a solid skirt. I have plans for another one of these out of a polka dot fabric, for which I'll just fold those pleats out of the pattern piece completely before I cut it out.
 The main reason I love this is because of the elastic, rather than a zipper closure. It's only in the back and side fronts, which makes it still look nice and flat in the front. It made the fit so easy, it was fast to sew, no hand sewing, etc...  And I got to use a little bit of my leftover camera fabric for the facing! We'll call that white serger thread "contrast" instead of "too-lazy-to-change-it" ;)

So, back to my original question, how many of this very skirt pattern can I get away with before people notice that I keep wearing the same skirt in different fabrics?? Cause Jenn also sent me a teal twill that it begging to be sewn up too!

Lastly, since I bragged about the sunset from my lanai, I took a picture to prove it. Unedited! Isn't God glorious?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

epic slip and slide

Well, thank you all so much for all the encouragement after my last post! I already feel more excited about blogging after those comments. It's nice to know others are thinking about those things too! I've added several of your suggested blogs to my reader and followed several of you on Instagram, so that's fun! What I've always loved about blogging is the community part of it and it felt like I had lost that for awhile. So thanks again!

I have to share these photos with you because they're too good not to. We had a block party here on July 4th. We've never been a part of anything like that before, but military housing has its perks and one of them is automatic community with your neighbors. Another one is Halloween ;)

I looked out my lanai window in the afternoon of July 4th and saw this:
 The biggest, soapiest, most fun slip and slide EVER.

 Then you walk up the hill and get the soap sprayed off your face:

 The dog piles at the bottom were so funny. Watching dads go down and fly off into those trees was even funnier. It just never got old.

 These are our new friends from church, also our neighbors now! They're newlyweds. Aw :)

Since our neighborhood is on a huge hill (it's so high that my ears pop every time I drive down it!), we can see the fireworks from a clearing on our street. We watched the ones over Waikiki and then went home and the girls could see the ones over Hickam air force base from their bedroom window. The kids say that was the best day ever, which makes me happy because July 4th has always been one of my very favorite days too :)