Friday, June 16, 2017

Stuffed Flannel Cat

  My niece loves cats right now, so something catty was in order for her 3rd birthday in April. I did loads of searching for a stuffed cat pattern, but everything I found was too one-dimensional or cartoon-ish. I finally came across this super-cute pattern, but at 17" long it was almost double the size I wanted. I might buy and make that one at some point anyway, but it wasn't right for my niece.

  Eventually, I gave up and made my own pattern!

 Trying to make this pattern definitely stretched my drafting and 3-dimensional thinking skills! I referenced the book "Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction" by Abigail Patner Glassenberg (affiliate link), and it had lots of useful information, but my first version still turned out laughably bad... too wide in the neck, too skinny in the legs and tail, with a very splayed-leg stance, and tiny crooked ears. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it!
Photo from my Instagram. ;-)
  At this point I was pretty sure I would have to resort to a gathered skirt with cat-head shaped patch pockets, but I re-drafted it and tried again, and the second version was much better!

  I was originally planning to hand-sew the little footpads (this cat is only 9" long, so the footpads are about the size of a quarter each) but my hand-stitching isn't as sturdy as I'd like it to be, and this was going to be a gift for a 3-year-old, so I decided to machine-stitch them. I didn't even think of hand-basting before stitching though, and I really wish I had because trying to wrangle these little pieces around with 10 or so pins in each was no easy task! And they didn't end up as even as I would have liked either.

  I ended up modifying the underbody gusset shown in the book (it's also on the author's blog, here) because I wanted the gusset to extend up to the cat's chin/ mouth area. I also went with totally separate pieces for the inner legs, instead of darts, because for some reason that's easier for me to sew. I left a pretty big opening to stuff the cat through, and ladder-stitched it closed.

  I used grey and pink flannel for this... I'm really not sure how well it's going to hold up. It doesn't feel as sturdy as quilting cotton or fleece, although it is pretty cuddly.

  I embroidered the eyes and nose with brown, green, black, and pink embroidery floss. I really wish I'd canted the eyes more, and it would have been a lot easier to embroider them before sewing the entire cat, but overall I'm pretty happy with the face. The cheeks and nose were another really fiddly, difficult part to sew!

  The underbody gusset extends to the base of the tail in the back:

  She also has a head gusset, with a dart across the top and extending into the side face for inserting the ears. I think just a bit wider on the head gusset would have been better.

  I'm really happy with the way this turned out!

  I think the pattern could still use some tweaking but for only two drafts I don't think it's bad at all. =)

  My cat-obsessed little girls begged for one of their own, but since they already have 4 or 5 stuffed cats I haven't sewn one up yet... although it would give me a chance to try some more tweaks!

  Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, June 9, 2017

Marshmallow Shooters

  This isn't what I was originally planning to make for my brother-in-law's birthday in March. Unfortunately, my first plan ended up totally not working (after I'd spent several days on it...), and since I was already making one of these for his younger brother's birthday a week later, I decided they could just use them together!

  I've seen a lot of different versions of marshmallow shooters, but I mostly followed the directions for this one, which is just PVC pipe and fittings. I added a length of pipe to the top fitting for the mouthpiece, because it was a bit awkward to access without it, and I painted all of the fittings with Rustoleum Universal Metallic spray paint in Dark Stainless Steel before assembling everything.

  I wrapped the pipes with black and camouflage patterned Duck tape.

  I divided a bag of marshmallows between two plastic sandwich bags, wrapped the tops with some of the camouflage patterned tape, and stapled on a quick tag made with some black cardstock and silver embossing powder for the ammunition:

  These were a hit... my husband (who cut all of the pipes for me) had to test them out before he let me gift them and didn't want to give them up! They have a surprisingly long range, and are pretty accurate for shooting what basically amounts to tiny pillows. ;-)

 They were better than my first plan, for sure! =)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Arches Skirt

  For my sister's birthday in March, I decided to sew up the Decades of Style 1940's Arches skirt that I'd picked up on Black Friday last year. I didn't have a fabric that would be suitable, so after some searching I ordered some twill from Style Maker Fabrics

  I love the style lines on the front of this skirt! I'm hoping to make one of these for myself at some point:

  The back is just a simple, darted a-line with an invisible zipper:
  This fabric is pretty heavy, so I was worried about sewing those darts but they worked all right!

  I had bought some skirt hooks to sew in the waistband above the invisible zipper, but they were quite a bit too wide for the narrow waistband, so I ended up using a sew-in snap:

  The front arches are sewn with a lapped seam, and I really wasn't sure how to finish them... I considered a lining, but this fabric is thick enough that I didn't want to add even a lightweight lining, so I ended up doing a sort of facing for the front only:

  I converted the front of the skirt to a darted a-line shape using a tip from this sew-along and cropped it to just cover the tops of the pleats, then basted it to the front before sewing the side seams and waistband, but after sewing the lapped seams and pleats.

  I don't have a lot of lightweight lining sort of fabrics, so I used this brown, and serged the rest of the interior seams with brown to match. I realized later that the lining fabric was slightly discolored, which was disappointing, but fortunately it's not visible on the outside! I had used a blue wash-out marker to mark everything, and washed it out before taking photos, which is why the skirt is a bit rumpled-looking! 

  I was pretty pleased with the pattern- I would definitely be willing to buy another from this company! And I'm happy to report that the skirt fit my sister!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lace Angel-Sleeve Top

  Last year, I bought a few yards of a beautiful royal blue stretch lace from LA Finch Fabrics, thinking I'd sew myself something from it. Then, in March, my mother-in-law had a birthday! And of course, being in the habit of using my personal fabrics for gifts, I made her a shirt from said lovely lace.

  I used Jalie 2805, and starting with elbow-length sleeves, flared them to add some interest. I hemmed the lace on the sleeves using some tips from Sew Fearless, and they didn't turn out too badly! I used a single needle for this, as the sleeves have enough fullness that they don't need to stretch.

  I lined the whole shirt with plain white knit, and since I've never seen the recipient wear anything sleeveless, decided she might like the coverage of some cap sleeves under the lace sleeves. I wanted the lining separate from the lace at the underarm seam and side seams, so I sewed both sets of sleeves separately, then set them in the round once the body was sewn.

  I left off the neckband, but didn't raise the neckline to compensate. Since the neckline of this pattern starts out quite high and tight that didn't cause any issues, and I really think the slightly wider and lower neckline looks better with this fabric. A little top-stitching around it would have helped to keep things in place, but clearly I didn't do that!

  I hemmed the white layer just shorter than the lace with a twin needle, and used Wonder Tape and wash-away stabilizer to try to prevent the lace layer from tunneling when I twin-needled it. It worked until I soaked the stabilizer away, then tunneled, so next time I think I'll try to find some sort of sheer knit that I can leave in the seam to stabilize it. It looked a little worse in real life than in these photos, but it still looked better than a lettuce-edge or rolled hem would have.

  I did my best to line up the lace 'stripe' along the side seams.

  I have no idea if this one fit or not... I really hope it did! Isn't that lace pretty?

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Isla Dress And 7 Years Old

  All the way back in March, Booper turned 7!

  We didn't plan a party for her this year, but I did make her a dress and a cake! I'd been seeing all kinds of cute versions of the Simple Life Pattern Company (SLPCO) Isla's Infinity Tunic and Dress around, and just loved the heart in the back- but I knew Booper wouldn't be comfortable with an open back.

  However, I won a giveaway that Sweet Red Poppy hosted on Instagram for a pattern of my choice from SLPCO, and decided that a closed back wouldn't be so hard after all, and chose that pattern!

  I sewed this one size up from Booper's chest measurements, in hopes that the shoulder width would work for her, and added an inch to the straight bodice length (and wish I'd added another!) and a lot of length to the circle skirt hem. I added a third layer in the back so I could keep the clean finish around the heart while closing up the back. I used the elbow-length sleeves with a bit of extra length, and added the flutter sleeves.

  I used this beautiful cotton spandex knit, a print from Sincerely Rylee last year called Eden, to sew it- I was hoping to use a piece of Art Gallery knit that I'd bought earlier this year, but I didn't have nearly enough. The coral is from Girl Charlee, and I used it for the lining, pockets, and flutter sleeves.

  The pattern wasn't fantastic... things aren't trued, the shoulder is consistently too narrow (not just for Booper, but in quite a few of the pattern listing photos), the armscye is very long and narrow, and the shoulder seam is pushed toward the back quite a bit to make the sleeve, which is identical front-to-back, work.

  That being said, the instructions were pretty good... the method for sewing the heart cutout results in a very clean, pretty finish. I did that part differently though, to add the third layer... I sewed the heart as instructed, then turned it right side out and treated those two layers as one for the rest of the bodice construction, with a third layer acting as the actual lining. I was a little concerned that Booper's sisters would decide the bodice back was a pocket and stretch it out of shape, but that hasn't turned out to be a problem at all, although I did have to hand-stitch a portion of the heart back together after some of the stitches popped in the wash.

  Booper loves the pockets- I used the coral in an effort to save as much of the expensive print as possible, but I kind of wish I hadn't, as they are very visible!

  I hemmed the main sleeves with a twin needle, but used a lettuce-edge for the flutter sleeves and hem.

  Needless to say, Booper was delighted with her new dress, and it has become a staple in her wardrobe since I made it!

  It's kind of hard to believe she's already seven... most of the time she's very mature and people often guess her age as a couple of years more than it is, but it hardly feels possible that she's been a part of our family for so long already!

  She's a quick learner, and in addition to beginning her first real year of school last fall, has started taking piano lessons and is really enjoying them.

  She's a great reader, and goes through chapter books in just a few days. She loves to play pranks and surprise people, and comes up with as many jokes as her humorous little self can!

  Booper is very responsible, and is diligent in getting her chores and homework done each day, without complaining. She loves games of any kind, and spending time playing them with just about anyone is one of her chief joys.

  We are so happy that she is a part of our family!

  Her favorite colors right now are mint and pink- I was very happy I had some fabric that included both! I also made the cake in mint and coral!

  I bought some Russian Piping Tips from Craftsy in their Black Friday sale last year, and finally got a chance to use one of them on this cake. They definitely take some practice, and some very stiff frosting! Mine was a little too soft even after adding several extra cups of powdered sugar, so the flowers are a little droopier than I'd hoped, but I think the cake turned out lovely anyway.

  I also used a drop flower tip, a leaf tip, and a small round tip. I just did a basic white cake with basic buttercream icing, and didn't worry too much about getting the base layer of frosting perfectly smooth. I had a lot of fun making it!

Thanks for stopping by,