Of all the holidays, Halloween has always been my favorite. And of all the silly things that Eddie and I have been excited for about having a baby, dressing up for Halloween was one at the top of the list. which is why i decided to make two costumes this year. Which is slightly insane. I'm definitely the person who ends up finishing a costume on Halloween night, if at all. But I couldn't resist aiming high! And believe it or not, I finished them both. Before Halloween! It's a Halloween miracle!
The first is a costume for all three of us. Finn is going to be the president, and Eddie and I will be his secret service bodyguards! We haven't tried it all on together, so I don't have a family picture yet, but here are some of the props. I made a cardboard podium, and sewed a little tie onto his little onesie. I'll definitely add pictures when we get them!
The second costume is just for me and Finn (sorry Eddie!) because I wanted to make something slightly spookier. After finding some awesome inspiration photos of spider and web baby carrier costumes, I decided I would give that a try. But I wanted to make the web something that I could wear by itself too, so I decided to create a web skirt instead of just a web of string for a costume.
For the skirt, I used a free pattern from Lila + June that I'd been wanting to try. It's a simple and beautiful full circle wrap skirt. Cute enough that I would wear it again, but easy enough for a quick costume. I found an old black sheet in my stash to use for the fabric, and could just squeeze the size 12 pattern pieces out of it by slightly shortening the length of the skirt, and being willing to join the waistband from a few pieces. I love the way it turned out, and considered just keeping it without trying to paint a spider web on it, in case I screwed it up. But in the end, I figured it was such a quick make that it would be simple to make another one (or two or three!) if I messed this one up.
The next step was trying to figure out how to add the spider web to the skirt. I had some white paint laying around, and after testing it on a scrap, thought it would do just fine. I used tailors chalk to test out the spacing of my web, and then painted one of the lines. And it took FOREVER. And really, as I sat there looking at it, contemplating the hours and hours it would take to pain the whole thing, I decided that the chalk looked just as good as the paint and would be much faster. So I whipped out a chalk marker I had laying around, and simply drew the lines for the web. Super simple and super quick.
For anyone who wants to recreate this skirt, here's what I did for the web:
Vertical lines: Drawn on every seam, and also equally dividing each section into fourths (I just folded each section in half, marked it, and then folded the halves in half and marked them again at both the top and the hem).
Horizontal lines: I measured and marked 2" down from the waistband for the first line, and then gradually increased the spacing between each layer of the web going down. 3", then 4", then 5", then 6". Then I freehanded the curves between all the marks.
I also created a little spider stencil for myself, and chalked in some spiders dangling from web on the ends of the belt pieces. Which might be my favorite part of this skirt.
So the fact that I used chalk may have you wondering if this whole web is going to disappear the first time I wash it. I have no idea. I thought about this before I went for the chalk, but if it does disappear, I'm fine with redrawing it. But I'll just find a paint PEN to do it next time. No way am I gonna try a paintbrush again. If you have any suggestions for fabric paint pens let me know!
So here it is: the finished skirt! I'm so happy with how it turned out! Initially, I worried that the skirt was too full to really show off the web design, and considered trying to find or make a petticoat to fluff it out. But after a few days in the time-out corner, I decided I loved the way it looks. This happens with about 90% of my makes. I finish it, hate it, walk away from it, and then when I come back I love it!
Web down, now I had the spider to go. I realllly wanted to make a furry spider after seeing some of my inspiration photos, and luckily I had some furry remnants in my stash that ended up being perfect! I cut a simple circle for the body, large enough to cover most of my infantino baby carrier, and then cut 8 strips for legs. I whip stitched the legs closed around some pipe cleaners to help give them shape, and then safety pinned it all onto the baby carrier. Super simple! The one downside is how much furry fabric sheds when you cut it. It looks like I killed a small animal on my workroom floor.
The Final Result:
I love it! And I am so proud of myself for actually finishing these costumes two days before Halloween. It's a new personal record.
For those of you who are new around here, I live in Indiana. And I love where I live. Soooo I tend to create a lot of fun little projects that use the shape of Indiana. And I recently realized that Indiana makes a perfect tote bag shape!
For those of you who are NOT new around here, this newest creation will come as no surprise. I'll admit, I am slightly obsessed.
This tote is super simple, and yet manages to be cute as well, especially with the leather and rivets for straps. I started with my classic Indiana pillow shape, and tweaked it for this new project. I made indiana a bit wider, and got rid of the dip of Lake Michigan at the top.
Just like in the Indiana stocking, this bag is fully lined, but sewn in a way that all the layers are sewn at once, so I only had to sew around the squiggly bottom edge once. Then I clipped it, turned the bag right side out, folded down the top, and topstitched it in place. A few rivets to hold the handles in place, and voila! the bag was done! It's even reversible, since the inside seams are completely hidden as well. I just made sure to hammer on the straps in a way that would look finished either way you flip the bag.
I'm definitely going to put this in my shop as a pattern, and maybe even offer it in kits too! And if you are local (let's face it, pretty much only local people are going to be interested in this post) then look out for these puppies at the Yelp Bazaar this December!
A few weeks ago, in the midst of a lot of long term projects, I got the itch to sew something quick and simple. So I looked through my bin of patterns and pulled out Butterick Fast&Easy 3383.
It's a really boxy, oversized t-shirt pattern with three sleeve length options, a pocket option, and the option for side seam slits. I'm not usually a fan of really oversized t-shirts, and I considered altering the pattern from the get go. But I wanted to see what it was going to be like without alterations, and figured oversized was exactly what sewing for my bump called for.
I picked out some scraps I had in a sturdy navy mystery knit, and some bias tape that I'd had laying around for ages (seriously, I think I've had it since I was like 12) and went to work! Of course, being scrap fabric I didn't actually have enough to cut the pattern out as it was intended. So I decided to split the front into two, and try to make it look intentional. To make it look more like a design detail, I used 1" seam allowance for the center front, serged the sides separately, and topstitched each side. I think it turned out pretty well!
Actually, the whole shirt turned out better than I expected. A lot of times when I jump into a project and finish it really quickly it ends up turning out pretty terrible for one reason or another. But this boxy look is indeed super comfy for being pregnant. And the slits in the sides help give even more room as I go into the last few months of my pregnancy. I really like the stability that the woven bias tape gives to the scoop neckline, and I love the pocket detail. The only thing I'd change for next time around is to make the sleeves shorter, since every time I wear it I end up rolling them up a turn or two anyway.
I can't say that it's my favorite make ever, but it was the perfect pick for a quick and easy project, and it's a great basic to have in the closet!
Oh! And p.s. this is my Retro Topknot Headband in case you were wondering :)
Sometimes it is so exciting to create a totally new me-made garment! That excitement can get other things pushed to the bottom of the list, like repairing the clothing I already have.
I'm pretty good at repairing anything me-made, I think because I really appreciate those pieces more. But I've been trying to get better at repairing, altering, and refashioning not just the things I've made, but the rest of the clothing in my closet as well. I've been doing better (see my invisible jeans mending post) but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I would say that about 80% of my closet is second hand clothing, which I love, but they often come with little things wrong with them that, if I fixed them, would make me love them even more. A lot of them are easy fixes too! But my intentions to fix them often end up leaving me with a pile of mending that sits there for months at a time.
Me Made May has been very inspiring for me in terms of finally getting these things mended and altered. I decided that since my me-made wardrobe is pretty limited while I'm pregnant, that I would include
wearing things that I've mended and altered as well as the completely self made pieces. And I'm loving it! It has really motivated me to do those
alterations, and to appreciate those pieces more!
Here are a few examples of my alterations:
The polka dot top:
I got this shirt at a second and shop, and I love the color and pattern, and the style of the shirt! Whenever I go swing dancing, it always pops into my head as a perfect little retro looking top to wear. The problem is, with swing dancing (as with many things in life) you have to be able to raise your arms with ease. And this shirt did not allow for that. What an easy fix! I just had to take off the sleeves, and turn under the raw edges. And yet... it sat in my mend pile for about a year before I touched it.
The Striped Dress:
This dress is another second hand piece of clothing that just wasn't quite right. It was a strapless dress, but had absolutely no support on top, which led to a lot of yanking up to make sure everything was covered. On top of that, the white of the bust area was not only slightly see through, but also had some staining in the pits.
Solution: take off the top!
This was another really simple fix. I seam ripped the top from the bottom, cut the zipper down, (safety pinned the zipper down so I wouldn't accidentally pull it off during alterations) and then hand tacked the zipper in place and a hook and eye at the top of the elastic. Voila! Skirt.
Altering the ready to wear clothing that I already have is such a quick easy sewing project. Sometimes it's nice to sit down and be able to accomplish an entire project in a half hour. I also feel like RTW clothing often gets the short end of the stick. I know the quality isn't always great, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be using all the discarded second hand clothing that already exists. Wear it out. And then repair it! RTW deserves to be repaired too! I just need to make it more of a priority....
I can't tell you how this pattern fits on a baby, if it is easy to take on and off a baby, or show you a picture of what the options look like on a baby. Because my baby won't be here for another 4.5 months. But I can tell you how easy the pattern was to use, how quick it was, and how much fun I had!
Simplicity 2291 came into my hands because a friend of mine was getting rid of some of her pattern stash. I immediately snatched up all her baby patterns. Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I knew I'd want to make at least one outfit for when little Stage arrives. This pattern was perfect because it offers great unisex options and we aren't going to find out what gender our baby is! I ended up making a unisex onesie, little unisex sweatpants, and a skirt (just in case!). It took so little time to cut and sew them all, and SO little fabric! I think I've discovered the perfect scrap busters! Now it's going to be even harder to part with my scraps...
I made a few adjustments to my little memades. First, I made the onesie short sleeved instead of long sleeved (since baby stage is going to arrive in the summer). Second, I adjusted the sweat pants to accommodate my lack of fabric. I made the legs a bit narrower at the bottom, and left off the pockets. I also cut them shorter than the pattern called for, but used extra scraps to create cuffs on the bottom. An extra little strip of fabric became a fake drawstring bow. I love the result even more than the pictured pants on the envelope. I didn't have any lace for the skirt, so I just left that out as well.
Now I just hope that these adorable little makes will fit well enough to be worn at least once!
While at my selfish sewing retreat, I ended up making myself a top from Simplicity pattern 1113. It's a tank top with a high-low hem, and a very flowy silhouette. I figured it could be a good maternity top for me!
Not intending to sew this top, I hadn't brought any fabric for it. Which meant that I ended up using fabric scraps from another retreater. But Whitney's fabric scraps are beautiful and relatively sizable. I found two coordinating fabrics (although one was woven and one was knit) and managed to cut just about all the pattern pieces out. I only ended up missing one of the back hem stripes. So I decided to just go with it, and adjusted the seams at the sides to make sure that at least the bottom stripe lined up correctly. I also had to piece together the banding for the neck and armholes. I really like how the color blocking ended up looking on this top! I also ended up with armhole banding that was significantly wider than the neck banding. I'm not sure if this was a pattern detail or a mistake on my part, but I wasn't digging it. I ended up turning the banding onto the right side of the tank and top stitching in place to make the banding look smaller.
If I made it again, I would make the arm holes a little larger, and make it narrower across the shoulders and upper bust area, and also fix the arm banding issue from the start. I would also skip my length alteration, assuming I had enough fabric this time. I think my alteration caused the top to lose some of the beautiful drape that was meant to be in the top. Or maybe I would lengthen the entire top, seeing as my growing belly will need more fabric in the front. But overall, it was a quick easy make, and a very forgiving pattern because of the cut and fit!
A cabin in the woods, complete with sewing machines, hot tub, and more delicious food than you could ever eat in a week. If that sounds like a hot slice of heaven to you, that's because it is.
Once a year, in January, when the rush of the christmas season is over and the rush of prom season hasn't yet begun, my ASDP group (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) spends 4 days at a selfish sewing retreat. There are around 8-12 of us, and we each bring our machines, and projects, and we each take a meal to be in charge of. That way we only have to cook once in the four days. Just going four days with fantastic home cooking that I don't have to do myself is heaven enough. We set up the ping pong table as a cutting station, and set up our machines in the beautiful sunroom, which got cozy enough that we ended up cracking open the windows even during an Indiana January!
I call this the Selfish Sewing Retreat because the one rule is that you cannot sew anything for clients. Which is pretty much the best rule I've ever heard. Because despite what you may think, owning a sewing business does not mean that I make all my own clothes. Ever heard the saying "The cobbler's children go unshod"? that pretty much sums up my wardrobe. I spend so much time sewing for my business that extra sewing is rarely on the list of things that I want to do after my work day. Even when I want to, my back sometimes has other ideas. You can only take so long sitting a sewing machine or leaning over a cutting table!
But once a year, I let myself off the work-sewing hook and become a completely selfish sewer. Honestly, I need to just start implementing this into my monthly schedule. Because it feels so good! And that way I won't be bringing the same project back to the retreat year after year because I still haven't found time to finish it (I think most of us ended up bring back a project from the last retreat haha).
I went this year with every intention of finishing up my wedding quilt (just like last year). Because it has been over 4 years now. Come on! So I only brought supplies for that one project. To keep myself from getting distracted. Fat chance!
Between the fabric scraps that Whitney brought me, and the patterns Diane and Cathy shared with me, I ended up coming home with two new maternity tops and three little baby garments. All out of scraps! The baby clothes are especially satisfying because they take up such a small amount of fabric that it is so easy to use up scraps this way! I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of baby clothes in my future. And there will be some blog posts soon about these makes :)
I did actually get some good work done on my wedding quilt... just not as much as I'd hoped. I'll just have to finish my quilt on my own this year. Or bring it back next January....we'll see.
You know when you just see a fabric and you absolutely fall in love with it?
Yeah. That’s what happened to me at Let’s Sew.
I was there on a trip with my ASDP group this past spring, visiting one of our members’ sewing workrooms, and we decided to check out the local fabric store while we were there. Let’s Sew is a great store full of beautiful garment fabrics and quilting fabrics (that are good enough quality to also be used for garment making!) I had intended to just go to look, and not to buy anything.
Ha. You know how that goes.
I spotted a beautiful blush eyelet fabric on a roll against the wall, and that was it. I didn’t know what I would make with it, but it was coming home with me!
I started sketching in the car ride home, and by the time we made it back, I had a plan.
….That I worked on intermittently for the next 4 months….
The downside to working a day job where I sew, and owning a side business that also involves me sewing for hours, is that you end up having very little time and energy for getting sewing done for yourself. This is actually the first whole project I’ve taken on just for me in years.
I started out by playing around with the fabric on my dress form, and then drafting the pattern for my new dress. I actually drafted it specifically for the fabric that I had bought. I hadn’t known what I wanted to make with the fabric in the store, and I was trying not to overbuy, so I really had a very limited amount to work with. I started with 1.5 yds of the face fabric, and 1 yard of the lighter pink lining fabric. I also wanted to draft the pattern very specifically for fabric use because as an eyelet fabric, it had the most beautiful border on the edges! There were certain parts of the dress that I wanted to make sure that I used that border for. The bottom hem, the front yoke, and the center back for certain were going to be out of the border pattern. I would have used more for the sleeves, but I didn’t have any more even for that. Instead, I ended up tracing around the scallops of the edging in order to create the sleeve edge, mimicking the look.
So after pattering a new dress, the logical next step is to make a muslin, to test the pattern out.
But I have this bad habit of not making a muslin before diving in to a project, and true to form, I didn’t make one for this dress. I don’t make a lot of time for sewing for myself, and when I do, I never want to lose that precious time to a test run, even when I know I’m risking the entire project by choosing not to do one.
I cut all my pieces out with a 1” seam allowance to give me some wiggle room, but I definitely had some “Oh shit” moments during the process, when I thought I’d completely screwed it up. Although if I’m honest, every new project I do goes through a moment or two (or five) when I feel like I’ve completely messed it up and I can’t stand looking at it. Luckily I usually get passed this feeling, and I did with my pink dress too.
Originally, I had drafted this pattern to have an elastic waist. But once I tried it on, I did NOT like the way it looked. It bunched in all the wrong places, and I wasn’t satisfied with the look of the elastic on the open back of the waist. It just didn’t look finished to me.
So I decided to pivot, and add a waistband in place of the elastic. I scrounged up enough fabric to create the band, and gathered the skirt and top into the band and it looked much better! But by adding a waistband, I had backed myself into a corner.
I had gone all out with this dress in terms of finishing the seam allowances. I had decided to make the insides just as pretty as the outsides, and went with french seams, along with all sorts of bound edges and Hong Kong seam finishes.
But my late-in-the-game pivot meant that in order to be able to put the dress on (kind of important…) without the elastic waist I now needed a zipper opening in the side seam.
The side seam that was already perfectly frenched. (definitely an "oh shit" moment)
This lead to a lot of procrastinating, in the form of googling tips for how to put an invisible zipper into a French seam. But in the end, I just had to wing it. It was pretty much hand sewing to the rescue. My bright white zipper did end up taking away from the sophisticated look of my dress innards, but a lot of hand sewing at least made it look cleaned up and presentable.
As with any project (especially one that I don’t make a muslin for...), I already have improvements in mind for my next go with this pattern. But overall I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out! I definitely had fun trying to take some pictures of it! I’ve been eyeing this ivy wall down the street from me for a while, and I got Eddie to come with me to cut out the awkward selfie shenanigans. He said he would only come with if he could pretend he was a real photographer and dress the part. Apparently this is how Eddie thinks photographers dress: hat, glasses, and cut off jean shorts. He is so adorable.
creative business owner. designer. hoosier. crafter. runner. sewer. swing dancer. outdoor enthusiast. entrepreneur. wife. material hoarder.
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Madeline Stage firstname.lastname@example.org
"Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."
- Earl Nightingale