Serendipity

So, last summer I decided that my daughter needed twirly skirts. I’m not sure why I felt this way, as I am sooo NOT a twirly skirt person! However, as those of you who have a daughter, granddaughter, or niece (or have ever ventured near a shopping mall, the girls’ clothing section in the department store, or the PINK toy aisle, for that matter) are probably aware (or, maybe not – you do you!), leggings and twirly skirts are all the rage (or at least were in the later summer and early fall). But, I had been shopping for legging patterns with the intent of whipping up a few pairs, and ran across Simplicity 1785. Seeing that it had a one-piece legging pattern (sooo much easier than two!), I snatched it up at a $1.99 sale at JoAnn. In addition to the leggings (I made three pairs, they are so fun and easy!), the cute skirts caught my eye, with their clever pleats and tutu-style poufiness.

During this episode, I was also emailing back and forth with my sister about skirt designs for a skirt for her daughter, and I was also in the process of gathering together inexpensive mix-and-match pieces for my daughter’s fall wardrobe, gathering cute sale leggings and onesies for basics, with the intention of adding cute flairs of style here and there through T-shirts, dresses, and blouses that could be layered together for lots of great looks. (Me, obsessing about baby fashion… well, in my defense, I had a lot of free time, okay?)

The two main items I had fallen in love with were a pretty floral sheer tulle skirt and a pair of cable-knit leggings, and the skirt was SOOO expensive for a baby skirt!! So, I took another look at the skirt included in Simplicity 1785, read through the instructions, and decided to give it a shot. I dug through my stash and got to work, quickly finishing one as a trial in a cute graphic floral. The tulle underskirt failed miserably, which is fine, I’m not a tutu fan, but the skirt turned out super cute without it! After I finished it, I started the second one, a heavier-weight brushed cotton flannel (Plaiditudes from JoAnn, for curious readers) in an awesome purple herringbone pattern.

Well, I screwed up cutting the purple fabric, and had to improvise. The instructions call for cutting two skirt pieces and two yokes – the tricky part is that the skirt pieces BOTH get cut out of the fold, but I for some reason decided to NOT cut my second piece on the fold, and had to fudge because my cutting didn’t add in seam allowances (oops). I managed to figure it out, but ended up with less fabric to work with. So, I had to make the yoke narrower and leave the waistband off. But, I managed to get the thing assembled to the point where it just needed hemming and waistband, and then set it aside to work on something else, and haven’t touched it since.

Until today. For some reason, I got itchy fingers and pulled out the skirt again since it was such a quick finish. Hey, all my Christmas gift projects are done (…right? ::mentally tallies:: OK, yeah), so I had a little wiggle room. Finished up the hem, got the waistband finished, and now it’s ready to go.

Where the serendipity comes in is that I had bought a cute T-shirt for my daughter a month or so ago depicting an ice skater on a river through a forest, in gray and purple shades, but didn’t really have anything my daughter could wear it with… until today!!

I ran across the T-shirt in a pile of clean laundry shortly after finishing the skirt, and on impulse, put it together with the skirt. And Voila! My daughter has an ADORABLE holiday outfit to wear to a party tonight:

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This outfit is SO cute, and she even has a cute pair of Fair Isle pattern knit leggings to go with! I do need to find a shirt or onesie she can wear under it, but. I always LOVE it when things come together in unexpected and unplanned for ways!

What projects have you worked on and set aside that you were able to come back to later and finish lickety-split with awesome results? Share in the comments!!

Have a happy holiday, dear readers!

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Holiday Sewist Gift Guide 2014

Stumped on a quick, last-minute gift for your favorite sewist or crafter? These are a few things that are on MY list, and I know for a FACT that most (if not all) sewists would love any of these!

1) Gift Cards

These are the PERFECT gift for anyone who crafts, really. It is so hard to choose the appropriate gift. You may know where your loved one prefers to shop for crafting and sewing supplies, but if you’re not a crafter or sewist yourself, entering one of those stores can be intimidating at the very least and terrifying at most. Your favorite person of crafting bent probably has very specific projects in mind, and who knows if what you choose will be the right item? Solve the question with a gift card – this not only allows your sewist to choose what they would like to work with, but will be so welcome, especially if they are on a tight budget (as most of us are nowadays!). A gift card opens up the entire store for their shopping pleasure! An e-gift card from Etsy or Mood Fabrics can be an added bonus – Etsy and Mood both have amazing selections of unique, uncommon, and luxury fabrics and crafting supplies, with frequent sales from Mood on their designer fabrics opening up possibilities for a beautiful wool coat or silk blouse.

2) Sewing Notions

Believe it or not, the items I am ALWAYS hunting for when I get a spare moment to sew include measuring tapes, pins, safety pins, scissors and seam rippers. You literally can never have too many pins (glass head ones are the best, FYI!). Over the years, I’ve acquired many duplicates of these, and I can guarantee you that at any given moment I have no idea where my seam ripper is (any of them!). Extras are always a good idea, with the added benefit that every sewing supply store is going to have these on hand, and they are inexpensive. Not to mention, if you’re concerned about quality, don’t be! The seam rippers you would buy at JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics are the exact same ones (or at least very similar) you would find at a notions shop in the garment district of New York City or at an online or brick-and-mortar specialty store like your local high-end quilt shop. Same goes for scissors – while Gingher is definitely an excellent brand, Fiskars isn’t too shabby, either. Bonus? You can usually find a coupon online to print out and take with you! So don’t be afraid to ask your friendly big-box fabric or craft store employee where their sewing notions aisle is, and feel free to go to town.

3) Storage bins

Maybe I’m alone in this (heh, I really don’t think I am!) but a bunch of storage bins, especially the shoebox-sized ones, is a good thought as well! I am always planning new projects, and way to keep everything I need for one project together is so nice to have, so when I’m ready to sit down and work on something, everything is right where I need it. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart typically have bundles of 5-6 bins that actually typically cost around $6 or $7 – and they are sooo handy. Having several of the same kind makes them easy to stack and stash!

4) Specialty PDF patterns

One item that I always really enjoy sewing is clothing for myself and my family! The big-box stores have a nice selection of what is known as the Big 3 (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity) patterns, but while the volume and cost of these is nice (they usually go on sale for $1-2), I do enjoy supporting independent pattern designers like Thread Theory, Oliver + S, and Colette. The nice thing about PDF patterns is that you can print the same pattern multiple times, which cuts back on tracing, and allows me to make multiple versions of the same pattern with no issues. These three companies in particular have beautiful, timeless designs, easy-to-follow instructions, and lovely graphics. The price is a little prohibitive for every day, so a gift of any of these would be quite a treat, while also fairly reasonable for a gifting budget.

5) Fabric bundles

If you do have a pretty good handle on your sewist’s tastes, feel free to buy fabric bundles! Especially items like fat quarter bundles and pre-cuts (also known as charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes). The nice thing about pre-cuts and pre-bundled fabric is that you get lots of coordinated fabrics in one package, so there are plenty of opportunities for projects involving several different fabrics, and no need to worry about whether they’ll like it – when there are so many patterns in one place, it’s easy to find one you love! If you are leery of picking something out, these pre-cuts and bundles can be found at nicer quilt shops, so feel free to go and ask for a recommendation. Chances are, the sales associate will know the latest trends and be able to point you in the right direction, whether it’s by most popular, latest releases, or type of project. They may even be able to point you in the direction of a pattern to go with the bundle!

Well, that’s all for now! Can you think of any other really great gift ideas for sewists and crafters? Speak up in the comments!

Simple Holiday Stockings

A few years ago, when my oldest had just turned 1, I made holiday stockings for myself, my son, and my husband based on a tutorial from fabricworm. They turned out great – it was such a fun project! Check it out (forgive the blurry, it’s an old photo!):

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So, now that my daughter is a year old, I’m stuck with a dilemma. Since I got laid off, our finances haven’t been fantastic, so, I was putting off the stocking situation. I’ve been out looking for fabric (while also applying for jobs), and honestly couldn’t find any that I liked that fit in with the existing stockings, which only take about a yard total between lining, cuff, and main fabric. I want something classic, but unique, something that can grow up with her.

Last spring, in a more fluid time, I picked up a couple of pre-cut stacks of Christmas fabrics from Moda’s Basic Grey line (my favorite designer); one is a stack of Honeycombs (hexagons), and one is a charm pack. I also have 2 half yards of two different shades of red Kona cotton on hand thanks to my sister’s Christmas gift a few years ago (she totally feeds my sewing habit for me! lol) So, I could make a Christmas stocking for my daughter from a bunch of hexagons of awesome Christmas fabrics. Or even a simple red Kona cotton stocking with Honeycombs for accents – maybe on the cuff, heel, and toe (and yes, that is little miss grabby-hands grabbing the stack – she loves playing with my fabric lol):

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The problem with these options is that a) I’d really like to hang onto the pre-cuts for bigger quilt projects if I can. Also b) the other 3 stockings are made from 2 different fabrics, with a trim accent, and c) I’d like to keep all four consistent, rather than having one made of lots of different fabrics, not to mention d) my son might get jealous of her (possibly) “fancier,” more elaborate, stocking.

My third option is to just go buy a cheap stocking from Target and make her one that is consistent with the other 3 later, when I can afford to be picky about fabric. What do you guys think?