Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Sewing & Hazel Pattern Review

Wow, so here it is, Christmas Eve. And not only am I just now finishing my final gift, but I managed to take a bunch of pictures so I can do a review of the pattern. Talk about multi-tasking!

Before I continue, I must say, that Twitter (my name is @restitcherator if you'd like to follow my tweets) is just about my favorite thing in the world these days. After I post pictures or talk about doing one pattern review or test, I get a request to do another one! It's like heaven! I follow quite a few fabric designers, pattern creators, sewing book authors, but also a ton of other crafters and sewistas like me.

My most recent project was from the very talented and wonderfully friendly Trish Preston, of Two Peas in a Pod Designs. She also has an Etsy shop where you can buy this great pattern for a hipster bag.

The pattern comes with multiple variations, pockets, no pockets, smaller, larger, etc. I made the basic version as a purse for my cousin for Christmas. She hates to carry big, heavy purses, so I thought this would be perfect for her. I used Sandi Henderson's new Meadowsweet fabric, which I think is absolutely GORGEOUS. It was everything in me not to keep the bag and get something else for my cousin!

The pattern was very well written, with great "tips" along the way for important notes to remember. One of the things I liked the best, was that there was a blank line between each of the numbered directions. And the font was a decent size. So often I get patterns that have tiny print on a page that's folded up 10 times and I flip back and forth and get myself confused.

Trish's steps were easy to follow, and I am super pleased with the results. What do you think?

I will most definately be making more bags with this pattern. It took me maybe a total of 3 hours including cutting, pressing, and sewing (and even the pictures). And I will be looking at Trish's new patterns when they come out too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Annual Christmas Trip to Beantown

It's actually become and annual tradition..we started going four years ago when we were just getting to the "serious dating" stage. We take a trip to Boston for some great food in the North End, some Christmas shopping, and a quick little getaway in the chaos that is holiday time.

This year we stayed at The Langham, Boston. It's right in the heart of the financial district. The room was very nice, but no free breakfast. A pretty big drawback in my book! We decided to walk to dinner, although it was pretty windy and cold, and saw this along the way, and I just loved it.

We got to dinner, at Trattoria di Monica on Prince Street in the North End. It came pretty highly recommended, and being the research geek I am, I read tons of online reviews. It was exactly the type of restaurant we love. Small, great atmosphere, romantic (ok, that's my favorite, not Rob's), and amazing food. Very cozy on a cold wintery night.

Even though it was tiny, Rob managed to snap a few pics, and caught me smiling at the amazing choices. At least this time I wasn't tweeting, or updating my Facebook page, which is what he usually catches me doing.

After dinner we stopped at Mike's Bakery, on Hanover Street, which was actually rockin' at 10:30. There were literally throngs of people going in and out. Some sitting with coffee, some taking boxes of sweet deliciousness home. That I did manage to tweet about.

I got a decaf cappucino, and about 8 different chocolate treats. Giant peanut butter cups, giant chocolate dipped pretzel rods with toffee crumbs on top, coconut clusters...oh lord. All of them were amazing, and we actually have a few left.

When we got back to the hotel, the concierge actually managed the truly rare and elusive photo of Rob AND Rebecca. These don't happen often, so I was glad it came out as well as it did.

The next morning we went to Sowa Holiday Market, which is a fantastic show featuring 80 amazing artists and craftspeople. I tell myself that I'm there to buy gifts and then manage to come home with presents for myself! My favorite artist was there, James Polisky. He designed my logo.

He has an amazing perspective. He manages to show the darker side of people, kids, animals, you name it, with what to me feels like a beautiful, funny overlay. For some reason, his work just speaks to me.

As we were eating lunch on Newbury Street, I was looking out the window and saw all kinds of people in Santa hats run by one block up. As luck would have it 5 minutes later, the Speedo Santa Run went right past us. I had never heard of it, but I guess it's to raise money for a few local charities. Needless to say Rob got TONS of pictures, but just to give you a flavor...these people were CRAZY.

As always, it was a wonderful, memorable trip. We will most definately be going back next Christmastime.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pattern Test for Patty - Flora & Fauna Blossom Pillow

Once again, thanks to Twitter, I was given the fantastic opportunity to test a new pattern for fabric/pattern designer Patty Young.

Patty launched a new set of patterns this week, and I was asked to test one of the decorative pillows from her "Pillow Trio" pattern. This time around Patty sent me her new Flora & Fauna fabric, and a suggested layout for the fabrics.

The fun part is that my finished test pillow gets to be in the actual pattern once it's printed, and Rob's great photos of the pillow get photo credit in the finished pattern too!

Overall, the pattern was super simple to complete. Something a new sewer could make with ease, and get some super immediate gratification. All of the pillows are a finished 18", so they really look fantastic and stand out on a chair or bed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Super Duper Tote with a Zipper (& pattern review)

Unfortunately, more than one of the projects I've worked on the most lately have been TOP secret. So I am very happy to be able to share this one.

It came as a special request from Rob's cousin. She asked me if I could make a tote bag with a zipper. She said she was looking for something that she could carry snacks and drinks around in, but that could pass for a handbag. My two kids are ALWAYS asking "what do you have to eat?" and oddly enough, there's usually something rumbling around in my purse. But I love the challenge of custom requests, so I started hunting.

I asked my fellow Tweeps for suggestions on a pattern to use. I figured that I at least needed a place to start. Melanie, (owner of Above All Fabric) who has now pretty much become my "go to" fabric/sewing resource suggested this book:

It looked like it had exactly what I needed so I ordered it right away. I decided on the tote from the back that has pink and purple stripes and black buttons, but I knew that I was going to choose a single fabric so I thought it would be pretty straightforward.

Well, pretty straightforward. I am a huge grosgrain ribbon fanatic. So I try to put it on just about as many things I make as possible without it looking silly. After two other fabric choices which ended up getting cut and then re-folded and re-stashed (that's a whole 'nother story!) I found this Joel Dewberry Tiles fabric and knew it was the right choice. I have the most awesome huge amount of siler/grey ribbon in a few different sizes, so I dug in.

The pattern was pretty clear, and well written, but as with many other patterns, it was really important to read through the whole thing a few times and have all of the pieces they told you to cut, ready. I tried to skip right to the directions, without being properly prepped and it didn't make any sense at all. Once I got into the meat of the pattern, it was easy to follow.

I will say that because the fabric was home dec weight, by the time it had a front, back, lining, and padding, it was pretty thick. I broke not one, but TWO needles going around the outside edge to finish it.

But finish it I did and I love the end result. I worked very hard to line up the sides,

and outside of the zipper...

and the inside is lined with some pretty plain, tonal cream color paisley fabric. It does, however, have a pocket made from my precious stash of Pussy Willow fabric from BariJ's Full Bloom line. These birds just make me HAPPY, so I fit them in where ever I can.

I am totally thrilled with the finished product

although it is much more than the quick bag I thought I was going to throw together. I realize with my horrid photographic skills the grey grosgrain actually looks like reflective tape! But I promise it's not.

Now I just hope Jessica likes it!

Next up, I"m going to do a little show and tell about my day of Serger School on Thursday. It was fantastic...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Biggest Etsy Shop Update Thus Far...and News

So, it's pretty exciting, now that I've had a few more Etsy sales, to keep adding things to my shop. It's really motivating to actually finish things that I've had lingering on the table, or worse yet, just waiting for pictures. So here the new things are, with more to come this week I hope!

Felted Baby Block

Super Luxe Cashmere Scarf

Cloth napkins from repurposed vintage tablecloth

Potholders from repurposed vintage tablecloth

And, because I've done a few test patterns now, I'm getting asked to do more! Which I love. One pattern for a designer who I've done one for in the past, the amazingly talented Patty Young. And the other is another Tweep, Trish, of Two Peas in a Pod. So much fun to test patterns, because it's almost like a challenge, and it makes me what to get right to work as soon as the pattern arrives in the mail (or email as the case may be!) and not come out of my sewing room until it's done.

Thanks for your support everyone! I can't wait to blog about my new pattern tests. Happy Fall!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pattern Review- "The Ruffled Chef" from Indygo Junction

I wish I had some better pictures to go along with this post, but if I wait for pictures, I'd post even less than I do now!

I've had this pattern for a while, and was looking for a reason to make it. Then I got a request for a special order from one of my West Coast cousins for a full length apron for her daughter, and we agreed on this one. I always love an excuse to try a new pattern, and this is the first garment I've made with an Indygo Junction pattern. (Although I have more patterns, just haven't used them yet!) So here's the cover...

I used some great pink cupcake fabric, along with a stripe and a dot. I had orignally chosen another pink pattern, instead of the stripe, but after starting to assemble the apron, the colors just didn't do it for me.

One challenge I always have is when there are directions and notes on the pattern pieces about numbered sides, or something to that effect. The two triangle tops of this apron had that, and I sewed them on backwards the first time around. The only other thing that I didn't like about the pattern was the width of the ruffle around the neckline. I found it really difficult to get the ruffle to lay the way I wanted it to, and it was almost like trying to sew a bias tape (which usually results in me cursing up a storm).

Other than those two small nits, overall, I think the pattern was very well written. Directions were clear, and easy to follow. Steps were separate enough that I felt like I made real progress, moving from one to the next. OH! And the pattern recommends that you serge most of the edges of the fabric. This made for a really well-finished look to the apron when I was done.

Poor picture and all, here it is.

I'm 5'4", and it was actually really long on me, past my knees. So it would be a good apron for someone who is quite a bit taller than me. Also, the ties are really nice and long, so you can either tie it in front, or in back and make a nice size bow. One final note, the pockets ended up feeling nice and substantial. I was afraid that they would feel flimsy, as the seam allowance was small on the bottom, but they were a pleasant surprise when I was done.

I'm hoping Laura loves her apron, and I'm looking forward to making more Indygo Junction patterned items soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Super Double Top Secret

There are no pictures with this post. I would LOVE to...but I can't! I've been sworn to secrecy. Now doesn't THAT sound exciting??

I did my second pattern test for a fabric designer for the last two weeks. It's a pattern that will be in a book that she's working on. It was different than anything I've ever done, and I was thrilled with the results.

I'll share pictures as soon as I'm allowed!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ally gets featured and I won a gift certificate!

An online fabric store where I buy quite a bit of my fabric is called Above All Fabric. The owner, Melanie, has a flickr group, where she asked people to share pictures of things they've made with fabric purchased at her store. After people posted, Melanie chose some to write a blog post about on HER blog.

Well, not only did one of the first try pics of Ally in the Julia outfit make it onto Melanie's blog, but I won a $25 gift certificate! Talk about feeding someone's habit. Melanie also has a new feature at her shop where you earn points for all of the fabric you buy, that can be used, or saved and used towards future orders. Wowee!

I'll post what I buy with the certificate, but in the meantime, I'm making more upcycled napkins and some special order baby blankets for my Etsy shop.

Oh yeah, and check out my new banner in the shop...I'd love to know what you think?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ally in Julia

Originally uploaded by restitcherator
I am totally addicted to Twitter.

One afternoon as I was driving, I saw my phone light up with a Tweet from designer Patty Young. She was looking for new pattern testers for her new girls' clothing patterns that are coming out at the Fall Quilt Market.

Needless to say I jumped at the chance. It's a two layer skirt with a shirred drawstring that shows off the underlayer, and appliques put onto a purchased top.

I used fabrics from Patty's Mezzanine fabric line. Maybe it's because I'm a child of the '80s, but pink and green as a color combo just make me smile.

I got to use my new Pfaff overlocker on this pattern that I got for my birthday. And I got to use that great dark green large rick rack that I bought during my first Shop Hop.

The pattern went together like a breeze, and Patty's pattern was laid out beautifully. The fabrics from Michael Miller are a very nice quality. Over all, more fun than I think one sewer should get to have!

P.S. Fabric was purchased online at Above All Fabric.

Originally uploaded by restitcherator

Originally uploaded by restitcherator

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weekend project - cloth napkins upcycled from vintage tablecloths

So, it seems like forever that I've had this giant Rubbermaid tote full of vintage tablecloths that I've managed to accumulate over time. Lots and lots of them have small holes, or thin spots. Some of them have great patterns or images on them. Most of them have those gorgeous vintage color combinations that you just don't see anymore. Pretty much all of them had some stains. But I found one at a Goodwill store recently and it reminded me to pull them out. I made a huge batch of bleach and water to soak them in, and started cutting.

The first set had these great roosters, chickens, and farm houses. It also had lots of tiny pea-sized holes. But once I was done with them...

They are double sided, and not 100% perfectly square, but they are all intact, and what I did use is in wonderful condition. And who can beat that pattern?? Best of all, they are super Earth friendly, eliminating paper napkins, and re-using something that would have been in the landfill. They are absorbant as all get out, just to make them that much sweeter.

My favorite pattern and color combo of all time was in this cloth...the red white and blue (but more like teal). Best of all, these are 15 1/2" square, which is nice and big. Just the most gorgeous shabby chic looking napkins you'll ever want to see.

Both sets are now in my Etsy shop, with many more to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thinking Fall...and Purses!

Wow. Can it be? Almost six weeks since I posted? Clearly I need to get a better routine going. I've made all kinds of stuff, but haven't had the foresight to take pictures, let alone post about them. I made a gorgeous Amy Butler halter top for myself, that's been worn and washed already. I'll definately post about that later.

Most of my very favorite projects are usually things that I sort of dream up, and wing as I go along. I find that with a pattern, I have this preconceived notion about what stuff will look like, and if it doesn't, I'm never quite as happy with it as I want to be. This project was one of those organic started with some great lucite handles I bought at Mood in January. They were really reasonable and I have another pair of light grey ones. Since this bag came out so well, I'm sure I'll be making another with those shortly!

The result was this...

I've seen these types of purses a lot of places, and wanted to make one with a simple shape, but as interesting a pattern as I could find. Something I might be able to use a lot. So, of course, it's black and white. It's made from an upcycled, felted Fair Isle cardigan, and some awesome Michael Miller Disco Dot for the lining.

It's not very big, only about 7" square, with about a 1 3/4" width. I've seen people with these really overstuffed, and the sweater just stretches out and the handles I thought if I made it small, it would be harder to overfill.

The handles are sewn on with the cuff edge of the sweater, so the color matches perfectly. I was so thrilled that it fit through the opening on the lucite handles, it seemed perfect. I did stitch the sides closed again, I wanted them to be as strong as possible.

I LOVE it...but I am promptly putting it in my Etsy shop. My first sale really got me motivated. It's already time to start thinking about the holidays and gifts...where does the time go???

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Are HERE

My kids never seem to have a shortage of great, new, creative ideas. This project was no exception.

My son, for some crazy reason, has been asking for a pillow with the state of Connecticut on it. He does love maps, and we do live in Connecticut...other than that, who knows why.

So I showed him some of the stuff from my ridiculously growing stash that I thought he might like for the back. He ended up choosing some very cool Echino that is black with pigs and cobwebs.

For the front, I used a grey base from a reclaimed men's wool sweater, and then I cut out the state freehand from a reclaimed men's black wool sweater. Thank GOD we live in a relatively easy state to cute out! Can you imagine if we lived in Virginia, or Alaska...EEEK. But here's the final result.

The whole project took me maybe an hour or so, and he LOVES it. He slept with it last night. I used a 12" x 16" pillow form and slip stitched the opening shut. I am thinking these might be a cool thing to offer in my Etsy shop? What do you think?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Amy Butler Placemats in Lotus

Wow...these made up super quickly and easily. The pattern is from Amy Butler's book "In Stitches". I bought the Lotus fabric from Above All Fabric, a wonderful online fabric store. The owner Melanie offers super quick shipping, an amazing selection and top notch customer service.

I love when I actually make the projects out of the MANY books I own.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All aprons, all the time

So, when I get into something, I really get into it. I started out making two more of Jona's "Apron in an Hour" from the free PDF on her blog/fabric website Fabritopia. I'm spreading the fabric love around though, because the fabric came from Close to Home in Glastonbury, CT (super nice staff) for the pink and green preppy one, and Lisa's Clover Hill Quilts in Berlin, CT for the mum and purple one.

I had gone to both shops to check out how close they are to me, because they're both participating in the 2009 CT Shop Hop (my first one!). I figured it would be good to scope places out before I had to visit all 18 in such a short time. I'm really looking forward to it!

The last one is for my dear friend/coworker Kari (you can follow her on Twitter at @KPlavcan13), for a belated birthday gift. She is a talented cupcaker extraordinaire, and I figured she needed a cup-cakey apron for when she's working her magical goodness. The pattern for this came from Bari J, an amazing and talented fabric designer. Her pattern has great tips, and I can assure you, I needed all of them! The fabric is a very cool mix of Joel Dewberry Aviary (pink) and some of Project Runway Season 1 winner Jay Carroll's Woodland Wonderland fabric line.

I'm getting much better with my new machine, and I'm looking forward to making some more actual garments. I made a skirt this week that came out just god-awful. So bad, there's no pictures!

Until next time...