Grandma For A Year

There’s nothing like being a Grandma!

There is nothing like being a Grandma.  I’ve always heard people say that and wondered what they meant by it.  I love being a Mom.  We were blessed with great kids who are truly wonderful people that we always enjoy being around and spending time with.  So of course I would love being a Grandma, as it’s our baby’s baby.

Dan and I were fortunate to be at a stage in our lives that allowed us to be close by at the crucial time.  We had sold our house in Michigan, and hadn’t yet found a new home in Florida.  So we rented an apartment for three months that was about 12 minutes away from our daughter and son-in-law’s home.  We were able to help with some last minute baby preparations, and to be there with Jennifer through 3 days of labor.  The excitement of our granddaughter’s birth was topped off when I finally got to hold her in my arms.  Her warmth, her smell, her soft baby skin, still covered in birth fluids.  My heart was overflowing with love.  first time holding Lila

I made breakfasts and dinners, and cleaned and did laundry, and waited impatiently for my share of baby snuggles.  Baby Lila wormed her way deeper and deeper into my heart.  The daily visits ended when we moved back to Florida.  But I am so grateful that we had the opportunity for that early bonding time.

We fly up for visits every month to six weeks or so, and Lila is always happy to see us.  We’ve watched her mature and grow, and seen the milestones and developing talents in person, in photos, and via Facetime.  It cracks me up how she tries to reach out through the phone or iPad to touch us.  The first year has flown by.

When Jennifer started planning Lila’s first birthday party, I was hoping that Lila would be able to wear the dress Jennifer wore on her first birthday.  Unfortunately, there is a stain on the front of the dress that I don’t think will come out after 30 years!  Since I like to sew, I knew I could make her something pretty to wear instead.

Jennifer chose a “She’s a wild ONE” jungle theme for the party and I instantly knew what fabric I was going to use.  I had ordered the palm print leaf matte nylon/spandex from Phee Fabrics intending to make a dress for myself.  But I hadn’t decided on the perfect pattern yet, so the fabric was stashed and waiting for me.  I thought it would be fun to make something for all three of us to wear on the special occasion.  I also thought that I had three yards of fabric stashed, but in reality only had two.  Yikes!

That ruled out the possibility of making dresses for all three of us, so Lila got a birthday dress, and the two of us got tanks.  I have made my daughter tank tops before, and have three different patterns cut out in her size.  Her favorite seems to be the Patterns for Pirates Essential Tank, so I chose that for her.  Its flattering, simple, yet shapely design is also great for layering, so I knew she would be able to wear it year round.  I debated between the Essential Tank and the Made for Mermaids Women’s Mya pattern for myself.  I decided on the Women’s Mya since it’s a bit roomier, I knew it would be a busy day, and there would be snacks and cake involved!

The birthday girl’s dress needed to be flowy and pretty and work with a knit fabric.  Jennifer and I both liked the Ellie and Mac Be Dreamy dress, but I had a few concerns.  Since Lila is a busy baby and a beginning walker, a floor length dress was out of the question.  The high-low hemline is cute, but still not practical for a one year old.  So it had to become a knee length dress.  This would be an easier fix if they lived close by and I could compare the pattern to her and her other dresses to judge the fit.  But she doesn’t, so I had to work off measurements. “No longer than seventeen inches” was the answer I received to “How long from her shoulder to hemline?”  So I overlapped my pattern pieces by the seam allowance, measured down from the shoulder, added a hem allowance and drew my new hemline.

Now to fit all these pieces onto only two yards of fabric!  I always take my time with pattern layout and cutting.  Everything needs to be perfectly on grain, and I hate wasting fabric.  Talk about your fussy cutting!  Fortunately, the palm leaf fabric is a true 60″ wide, so I was able to cut all the pieces facing (what I considered) upright on the fabric.  Since the leaves go in all different directions, it isn’t an obvious directional fabric and I could have made life easier by flipping things to fit, but that’s not how I roll!

The tank tops and dress sewed up easily, if slowly, since I just use a basic Brother sewing machine.  I like to finish my neck and arm band seams with my machine’s overcast stitch, followed by topstitching to get a clean, professional look.  (Someday I’ll get that fancy Babylock serger/coverstitch on my daydream wishlist!) 😉

The full circle flutter sleeves on the Be Dreamy dress were my other concern.  They needed to be light and fluttery, and preferably out of a solid, since the underside of the fabric shows.  Jennifer didn’t want to mix in a color with the palm leaf print, so that nixed the circular knit and tricot I had on hand.  My solution was white powernet.  I always use it to add support to the bras and workout tops I make, but it’s a versatile fabric.  I’ve added powernet side panels to workout capris, and have an idea percolating for a top with powernet insets.  Since it doesn’t fray, careful cutting with my rotary cutter was all the finish the fluttery sleeves needed.  I carefully tacked on some organza ribbon rose trim around the bottom of the bodice and along the hem and the birthday dress was complete!

Let the “She’s a wild ONE!” party begin!

plate napkinparty foodhostessG G Lila cakebirthday cupcakecupcake bite

There is indeed nothing like being a Grandma!  Lila fills my heart with joy and is a spectacular gift from God.  Her big blue eyes with mile long lashes, her laughs and saucy little grin, her backward waves, and heart-stopping desire to walk up and down the stairs, the way she practically runs while pushing her walker, and her undeniably fun personality all combine into one beautiful bundle of wonder that has completely stolen this Grandma’s heart.

Happy 1st birthday Lila!  I love you! Grandma Lila

 

 

S.U.A.T. Brazi/Calista Mash-Up

Mash it, and hack it, and make that dress your own!

I love the Stitch Upon A Time Brazi pattern.  I was so intimidated to try making my own bra that I eyed it for a month before I finally bought the pattern!  Since then I’ve made several workout bras for myself, a nursing bra for my daughter and a Brazi dress that I wear all the time.  I’ve hacked it for straight straps and removable bra cups and decided, why not mash it with the S.U.A.T. Calista?  Once you feel comfortable with a pattern and know the best fabrics to make it with, it is easy to branch out and try something new with it.

Brazi patternPlease note that out of respect for the designers, and protection of their intellectual property, I will not show full pattern pieces.  I bought the cross-front add-on when I bought the Brazi pattern because I love the look and knew that it would be the most flattering for my body type.  But you can do the straight strap hack on the original pattern.  I simply marked my pattern where it curves from cup to strap, and folded it under 1/2″ above that.  I folded the back straps under and cut out my modified pattern pieces.  I cut four 2″x13″ rectangles out of my fabric as my strap and strap lining pieces.
Choosing the perfect fabric is always the fun part of sewing.  And using high quality fabric is key when making a supportive and functional bra.  I love using Phee Fabrics circular knit, nylon/spandex, and rayon/spandex for my Brazi’s.  But the not-so-secret part to trim powernetbeing successful at supporting “the girls” is powernet.  And I’m not talking the decorative looking mesh stuff I’ve seen at a national fabric and crafts store.  Phee Fabrics powernet is legit!  It holds everything where it belongs.

I cut out my pattern pieces using the same fabric for the main and lining pieces and also cut all my pieces out of powernet. I trim the powernet 1/8″ to 1/4″ smaller on all sides except the side seams.  

pin powernetpowernet bastedPin the trimmed powernet pieces to your lining pieces and baste in place.  Do not baste along the side seams!  To make the pocket for your bra cups, lay your cups on top of the bra front and mark the height.  Sewing a horizontal line across the height mark will keep your cups from shifting out of place.

cross-frontSew your main and lining front pieces right side together.  The pattern tutorial recommends using elastic along the front edge of the cups.  Using the elastic adds another layer of security if you are concerned about anything showing when you lean forward.

back opening

I marked and pinned my back pieces together and left the center 4″ open when I sewed the top seam so that I would have room to insert the straps later.

 

 

sewing sideseamside seam sewn pinned

Open up your front main and lining piece and match it up with your back main and lining.  Here’s the tricky part: sew the outer main fabric together, sewing down about an inch into the lining and then sew the bottom inch together.  Pull the lining fabric of the bra front out of the seam line and tuck it out of the way as you pin the powernet and back lining pieces together.  You may need to use your finger to hold the fabric out of the way as you sew the other 3 layers together.  This will give you the opening on the inside of the side seam for you to insert and remove a bra cup.

bra cup accessRepeat the process with the other side seam.  At this point you can follow the pattern directions about matching your center front notches, adjusting strap length, sewing on your bra band or skirt and adding the elastic.

hem dipSince I was adding the Calista skirt to the Brazi top, and the bottom of the two bras are different shapes, I knew that I might need to make some adjustments.  You might like the look of the dipped hem my mash produced, but I am kind of old school, and like my hems to be level with the floor.  I had an easy fix for my problem.

alter hemtrimmed hem

I laid the skirt pattern on the skirt, pivoted it up from the center front fold to 2″ above the side seams. I flipped the pattern over and repeated the process on the skirt back.  I hemmed the skirt and my Brazi/Calista mash-up was complete!

Although I can add bra cups if I want, I wore my new dress all day and took these photos without using any cups.  THAT is how well quality powernet works!  So hack and mash and sew away!  And enjoy wearing your comfortable, personalized creation.

Brazi Calista backBrazi Calista1

 

*This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my links.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me!  Thank you for reading and supporting my love of sewing!

 

 

 

Sewing for Men

Man Up!

Do you sew for the men in your life?  I used to sew cute shirts, shorts, and pants for my son when he was little, but haven’t made him a thing in over 25 years.  I made my husband a bathrobe a good 15 years ago, but that’s it.  I sew for myself and my baby granddaughter all the time, and have made quite a few things for my daughter.  But the men in my life seem to get left out, until now.

I decided it was time to let them be the beneficiaries of my makes.  Since my husband now funds my fabric and pattern budget 🙂 and tolerates all the time I spend sewing, he deserves something nice.  My son was kind enough to help me finish setting up my website (as I am definitely not a technogeek) and deserved a reward for his help and patience.

So I decided to make my husband and son Sinclair Patterns Men’s Kai Tee Shirts out of Phee Fabrics rayon spandex.  Wow!  Normally I am not a fan of rayon spandex.  It’s not that I don’t love the softness of rayon spandex, but generally speaking it is not a fun fabric to work with.  It’s thin and flimsy.  It gets all wrinkly.  It stretches and gets bagged out of shape.  It’s slippery and a pain to sew.

Since I really like Phee Fabrics and have always been impressed with their quality, I decided to give their rayon spandex a try.  Wow!  It is so much nicer than your typical rayon spandex.  It’s way more substantial (13 oz.), has beautiful recovery, doesn’t come out of the dryer as a wrinkly mess, and even makes great bands on your tees.  I am using their rayon spandex for all kinds of makes now!

My next question was what pattern to use?  Some of my favorite “go-to” pdf pattern companies have shirt patterns, but most of them seem to be raglan sleeve styles.  Also, my son is tall, and my husband is not.  It’s not that I’m not used to having to lengthen patterns, since I am tall, but really, who wants to use their precious sewing time having to adjust their pattern?  Enter Sinclair Patterns.  Their patterns come with height options!  Regular, Tall and Short.  How amazing is that?  So I bought, downloaded and printed off the Men’s Kai in Tall and Regular.  Traced off my husband and son’s sizes and got to sewing.

J KaiD Kai

The shirts came together quickly and easily, and the neckband lengths in the pattern were perfect.  I don’t know about you, but I always wait until I have my shoulder seams sewn together to cut my neckbands.  I measure the opening and calculate the appropriate length, and frequently have to make longer bands than a pattern suggests.  It drives me crazy, but I have been burned too many times by a tight, gathered looking neckband to trust most patterns.  The Kai pattern neckband was perfect on both sizes.  It makes me confident that I will have the same success with their other patterns.

Kai biceps Kai side

 

All that was left to do was photograph my makes.  Getting my guys to agree to be photographed took a minute, but they had fun at my quick photo session.  And I snuck into a selfie, since who wouldn’t want to be photographed with these two cuties?  So give new patterns and fabrics a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!  Happy sewing!

Kai group

Sew What’s in a Name?

Name That Cardigan

I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t chosen to be a pattern tester for 5 out of 4’s new cardigan pattern.  But guess what?  I got to name the pattern!  How cool is that?  They had a cardigan naming contest in their Facebook group, so I entered it.  You never expect to actually win a contest, because face it, hundreds or thousands of other people have entered the contest too.

But lo and behold, the name I submitted was picked!  I suggested The Eleanor Cardigan because cardigans are comfy and cozy, and doesn’t Eleanor make you think of a sweet Grandma or Auntie giving you a big hug?  Alas, my Grandma’s are no longer around, and neither my Mom or any of my Aunties live nearby.  But I can still cuddle up in a comfortable cardigan!  (And I can always get a hug from my sweet husband!)

So be sure to check out The Eleanor Cardigan  (women and girls versions) from 5 out of 4 Patterns https://5outof4.com/ on October 2, 2018 when it releases!

Flutter Sleeve Hack

I wrote a guest blog on the Phee Fabrics Phee Blog, so I thought I would share it here.  Have you ever tried taking a photo at the beach on a windy day?  Let me tell you, it leads to laughter and crazy photos as you can see above!  I hacked the Made for Mermaids Women’s Mya Top, Tunic and Dress Pattern to have flutter sleeves.

via Flutter Sleeve Hack

Not Really Famous

Email “Fame”

Imagine my surprise when I opened the 5 out of 4 Patterns newsletter email and saw myself at the top of the page!  Being the slightly dorky person that I am, I of course had to forward it to my daughter so that she could share my excitement.  And she didn’t laugh at me, but rather commented, “That is super cool!  Do you get to test the cardigan pattern?  My black and gray cardigans both have holes :-(“.  Hah!  So either it really is cool, or, my slightly dorky genes were passed onto my children.   Let’s go with it really is cool.  As a side note, my husband thought it was cool, so again it really is cool or our children are doomed to slight dorkiness due to both parents!

The reason the collage of me appeared on the 5oo4 newsletter is because I was one of the testers for the new Lola pattern that was just released.  If you haven’t tried independent pdf pattern companies, you are really missing out!  There are wonderfully talented pattern designers in the world and some of them have discovered that they can sell pdf patterns online.  They have Facebook groups and sewists around the world join and ask and answer questions about the patterns, post photos of their completed projects and hacks, and discuss all things sewing.

Facebook pattern and fabric sewing groups are the best!  I constantly see comments like, “I just joined this group and this post thread was the first thing I saw.  I think I have found my people!” or “I have to share this here because you guys will understand how excited I am about…”.  The groups are filled with supportive, funny, and generally down-to-earth people.  If you are scoffing at this and wondering how many people would actually join a Facebook sewing or fabric group, you might be surprised to learn that Patterns for Pirates has over 100,000 members!  Yes, over one hundred thousand.

So, back to the pattern testing.  Designers will sometimes post a tester call in their Facebook pattern group and you can apply to be a pattern tester.  You apply online, supplying your current measurements and answer the questionnaire about your sewing skills or style, etc.  The patterns have been drawn up and tested by the designer  themselves, but they want to test and see how the pattern works on multiple sizes, different body types, etc.  You are expected to make a muslin (a practice garment) to check for size and fit, and provide comments, photos and constructive criticism about the pattern and directions as written.  The designer reviews your photos and comments, makes any changes to the pattern and tutorial directions and then the testers make at least one “final” garment and submit styled photos to the designer.  When the pattern is released you share the approved photos and promote the new pattern.

It’s kind of fun to do, but because there is a time frame, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort as scheduled.  I am not a fast sewist and tend to be a perfectionist, so I put a lot of pressure on myself when I test.  You provide your own fabric, and do not get paid, so pattern testing isn’t for everyone.  But I like to stretch my skills and try new patterns so I think it’s fun and interesting to do.  And you do receive the pattern for free once you’ve met all the requirements.

To answer my daughters question above, no, I was not chosen to test the cardigan pattern. 😦  But I did pick up on your hint that you’d like me to make you new gray and black cardigans! 😉  If you haven’t tried independent pattern companies and Facebook sewing and fabric groups, check them out!  Maybe they’re your people too!

Sew it Began

One of my first sewing memories

I like to sew and create pretty things.  My grandmothers and Mom all sewed, so I grew up sewing.  I’ve sewn since I was tweenager.  I remember taking a sewing class for kids with my sister when I was maybe ten or twelve years old.  We picked out a pattern and fabric, went to class on a weekly basis for a month or so, and had a little “fashion show” on the final week where all the kids modeled their creations.

I made a linen background cotton sundress with a strawberry print on it.  My sister (being a tomboy) made overalls out of a denim “patchwork” knit.  Keep in mind that this was the 70’s so that you can get a visual of these gems in your head!  Well, since I basically already knew how to sew, I got to work and had no problem completing my project during sewing class.  Dianne however, had little interest in sewing, and was probably forced to attend the class with me so Mom could have a few hours of peace and quiet!  Needless to say, despite my attempts to help, along with the probably overwrought instructor, Dianne did not complete her project during class.

Hours before the fashion show, my grandmothers and Mom worked to complete the overalls for her to model.  Why the instructor let a beginning sewist pick a pattern with overall buckles and buttons in the first place, I’ll never know!  But I will tell you that I wore that strawberry sundress and Dianne wore those overalls until they were worn out!

When you are looking at patterns and think that something may be a little too hard to try, keep in mind that you’re more likely to wear a design that you love!  Even if you don’t have a sewing Grandma or Mom nearby to help, there is a large community of sewists on dozens of independent pattern sites on Facebook that will gladly talk you through the pattern.  Happy sewing!