The Colonel Mustard Skirt

colonel-mustard-skirt It's that magical time again, friends... the time when I sew my heart out and actually blog about my projects before moving on to the next ones... it's KID'S CLOTHES WEEK! The theme this go around is up cycling. Um, yes please? If you've been around here for any length of time you know I LOVE to up cycle/refashion/scavenge. So obviously, I must OWN this Kid's Clothes Week!

I like to start the week off with a quick and easy project to help keep me motivated to make more. Enter my first project of the week- the Colonel Mustard Skirt. It had humble beginnings as a 2XL mens sweatshirt rescued from the thrift store:

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I forgot it was supposed to start on Monday, so a little Super Bowl night sewing (watching the series finale of Parenthood and not the Super Bowl because duh) and I drafted and sewed this simple skirt in an evening.

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I kind of winged it, which is something I haven't done in a while. I have so many patterns now that I usually have something similar to what I want and don't need to draft my own. This was simple enough that I thought I'd give it a try. I'm also taking the Pattern Workshop course from Lauren Dahl right now so I figure I need to get brave about drafting myself.

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It's a fairly simple skirt- a couple of rectangles, pocket cutouts, waistband and hem band from the bottom ribbing of the sweatshirt, and elastic at the waist to keep it up. I made the whole thing on my serger except for the topstitching on the pockets. Once I buy another double needle I'll topstitch the waistband and hem band, too. I did end up lowering the front waistband after trying it on her today, so for anyone thinking of drafting something like this you'll likely need to scoop that front waist down some.

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Here's the pocket lining detail. I used this fabric from Finch Sewing Studio. I had the pleasure of stopping in to their shop on Saturday and just couldn't leave empty handed!

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I always forget size labels so I made do with a simple ribbon tag and fabric pen.

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If I were to sew it again I think I'd add some pleats to the front. And the little lady? Well, she likes it alright. It isn't twirly, but I have plans for a top to go with it that will be plenty twirly, so hopefully that will redeem it!

Who else is sewing along for Kid's Clothes Week? I wanna see what you're making!!

(Details on the coat are in this post)

Kids Clothes Week Spring 2014- Day 2 & 3 (and a half!)

I've done fairly well keeping up with a bit of sewing each day, and I've even managed to get outside with my kids and make dinner. Let's not talk about the state of the laundry, though. I have a goal this KCW of using stuff I have- refashioning, upcycling, or using fabric from my (small) stash- rather than buying new fabric. It is time to clear some things out and make these piles of junk into something useful! So, for day 2, I refashioned (or upcyled... I really should find out the difference) this shirt I picked up at the thrift store a while back. If you haven't seen a rhyme or reason to my thrifting yet, I'll let you in on a secret. It's all about the fabric. If I'm looking for something for me then yes, I'm looking at fit and lines and all that stuff, but if I find something with a fabric I just love I know I can usually make it into something cool. Which is exactly why I bought this shirt that I knew I'd never wear- at least not in its current state.

It had a deep scoop back that meant there wasn't enough fabric to make it a little dress, so I finally decided to lop off the bottom as is and gather it into a skirt. It was basically the easiest thing I've made in a while. I used some fabric from the top to make a flat front/elastic back waistband, gathered the bottom portion and sewed it on. Easy as pie and my little lady is in love.

But then I didn't have anything she could wear with it, so I figured for day 3 I'd take a swing at the Celestial Tee from Figgy's that is included in Parcel #2 from Perfect Pattern Parcel. I had a cream tee I bought on clearance for $5 to work with. I loved it in theory, but the pleat detail on the front did a weird something over my boobs that I just wasn't digging. The problem is, this shirt wasn't quite wide enough to fit the pattern piece. I thought I'd try doing a contrast sleeve band like this, but it wasn't even wide enough for that. So I thought and thought and wasted way too much time brainstorming (I'm an overanalyzer- like bad) and came to the conclusion that I could try making it a raglan style sleeve, using another shirt to create a contrast sleeve. I literally just cut the pattern from the armpit diagonally to the neckline and added seam allowances. I also brought the back hem up for a less dramatic hi/low hem. Once I sewed the sleeve to the main bodice I followed the pattern. I wasn't sure how the pleats would look with the raglan sleeve, but I'm actually really loving that they seem to have the same angle to them, which makes it look intentional.

I toyed with the idea of using a linen with metallic stripes, but wasn't sure how a woven would work with a knit pattern. I used a thin knit with some texture instead (from a hand me down base layer type shirt), but now that I've sewn it up I'm pretty confident this pattern is loose enough that a woven sleeve would be just fine.

I didn't have enough fabric for a neckband so I cut the original hem from the main shirt and used that. It made a more narrow band but it worked! Talk about using what you've got!

I'm wishing I would have made a size smaller, since this pattern has a lot of ease and Charly is skinny as a rail. I guess she'll get to wear this for a long time:)

I finished the hemming on the shirt this afternoon, which brings us to today. I'm currently working on a pair of bubble shorts for Caroline and have another peplum top cut for Charly. My goal is 7 items this week- fingers crossed!

In the mean time, we are enjoying some fabulous weather, and it is all I can do to not skip naps and spend the whole day outside. Once summer hits the humidity comes with it, so these nice spring days are a precious commodity! Today we managed to get out for a run this morning and spend the late afternoon doing sidewalk chalk.

This goober declared herself "a ragamuffin princess" and I'd have to agree!

Refashion: Preppy Pleat Skirt

Once upon a time there was a blog post about three dresses. They all desperately needed new life. The first one was granted its wish and became an easy breezy skirt. Sadly, the owner was a procrastinator, and the two other dresses sat in the closet, untouched, for months. Then, one day, a friend came to visit. She, too, brought an ugly dress that needed new life. It became a beautiful skirt as well. The owner was encouraged to work on her dresses, and the Preppy Pleat skirt was born. There was rejoicing in all the land.

Confused? Ok, so maybe I don't have a future in children's literature.

Basically, this green dress used to look like this:

and after a crafting day with my friend Annie (who refashioned this dress) it now looks like this:

It was a fun refashion. I used a basting stitch all the way around the top of the skirt to keep the pleats in place while I gutted the dress and reconstructed it with a wide waistband.

I took for.ev.er to post this because I didn't have a picture that I liked (and still don't- notice how my head is cropped out?) but I finally took some pictures of this and other finished projects today, so you can look forward to a few more project posts this week!

PS- Did you notice those fab shoes? I thrifted em! Seven bucks- and they are pretty much my new favorites.

Refashion: The Market Skirt

This weekend I went ahead and tackled the easiest refashion from these fabulous dresses I posted about last week. I have yet to decide exactly what to do with the other two, but am definitely taking any and all suggestions!

Although I loved the pink buttons on this jumper, there was no question the top portion had to go. I'll use those buttons down the line for something else. This totally nineties jumper...

 ...is now a breezy mid-calf length skirt, perfect for a day at the market (or outlet mall, in my case), and is therefore called, The Market Skirt.

 Seriously, it was hot and humid high 90's on Saturday here, and this skirt was a dream to wear as we perused the goods at the outdoor outlet mall nearby.

As promised, I took lots of pictures of the whole process. Here's the tutorial, for any of you who are looking to add to your summer wardrobe! I tend to over-explain things (I prefer to be thorough), so don't be intimidated by the paragraphs at each step. It really is very simple!

Supplies:
-1 old dress, with a breezy/flowy fabric
-1 yard 2in wide knitted elastic (more or less depending on your waist size)
-Thread to match

1. Cut skirt portion from bodice.
I liked the length of the skirt already, so I cut right below the elastic that attached the skirt to the bodice. If you want to adjust the length, it is much easier to cut it to the right length in this step and keep the original hem. Hemming is a beast, so I try to avoid it at all costs. To figure out where to cut, try the dress on and pull the skirt portion up from the waist to the length you want, then mark 1" above your natural waist. Cut straight across at that mark.

Discard the bodice of your dress- or save it for some other project if you are a fabric hoarder like me:)

2. Gather the waist of the skirt. 
This is done by first sewing a basting stitch all the way around the waist of your skirt. A basting stitch just means use a long stitch length.

When you sewing a basting stitch you do not backstitch at the beginning and end- just start sewing. Make sure to leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end-this will help you when you are gathering later. When I am gathering something large like this, I divide my area to be gathered in to a few sections and baste them separately. This way you are less likely to break the thread as you gather and get really angry and give up. Not that I've ever done that :)

I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide for my basting stitch.

I sewed 3 sections of basting stitches. When I finished the first and cut the thread I pulled the fabric back toward me an inch or so and started the second section of stitching to the side of the first. I learned this little trick after I discovered that the areas where the sections of stitching met usually weren't gathered well. By overlapping a little you end up with a more even gather.

The first row of stitching ends on the right and the second starts next to it on the left. 
On one end of each section of stitches, tie the two threads together. This will keep your gathers from falling out at the end of your threads. 

On the other end of each section, grab the top thread and gently tug so the fabric gathers toward the knotted end. Continue with each section. You'll adjust the gathers later, so don't worry too much yet about how they look. 

3. Make the waistband.
Here is where your elastic comes in. Wrap your elastic around your natural waist, holding the ends together. Adjust so that the elastic is slightly taut- you don't want the waistband to dig in to your belly, but you do want the elastic to do its job in keeping your skirt up. When you are happy with the size, mark where the ends should meet and be sure to allow 1/2"-1" for seam allowance.

Making sure your elastic is flat (no loops or twists) pin the edges together where they should meet. You can cut the excess now or after you have sewn.

Sew using a wide zig zag stitch, which will allow the elastic to stretch without breaking the thread. I used this wide multi step zig zag, which allows for a lot of stretch.

After you have sewn the edges together and trimmed the excess you can do this quick step to help your seam lay flat, but it isn't necessary. Fold your seam allowance to one side and stitch it down.

Your waistband should now look something like this:

4. Attach the skirt to the waistband.
My skirt had seams on the sides and in the front and back. If yours doesnt, you'll want to mark the middle of the front and the middle of the back with a pin or marker. Pin the middle back of the skirt to the seam you just made on the waistband.

Pin so the front of the elastic and the front of the skirt are facing the same direction.

Do the same thing with the side seams and middle front of the dress, making sure to space them evenly on the elastic. I folded the elastic to figure out where the middle and sides were.

Once it is pinned in those 4 places, adjust the gathers so the skirt is the same width as the elastic, and so that the gathers are evenly spaced. As you pin, you need to make sure the top of the skirt stays parallel to the elastic. I did this by measuring with this seam guide, but you could use anything as long as it stays consistent. What we don't want is a skirt that ends up being an inch shorter in some areas- so be consistent!

Continue until you have pinned all the way around the skirt.

Now its time to sew! I used a medium width zig zag stitch, but in retrospect wish I had used one a little wider to allow more stretch when I pull it on over my hips.

Using the edge of the fabric as your guide, sew all the way around the waistband.

Trim your threads, remove the basting stitch (or leave it and hear the unpleasant sounds of snapping stitches as you pull the skirt on), turn right side out, and you are done!

The total cost for this cute summer skirt was $5.99! The dress was a $4 thrift store find and the elastic was $1.99 for a yard. I already had thread on hand. It doesn't get much cheaper than that!
I am really excited to have this new skirt to sport. I have a super hard time dressing in the summer. I'm a layering, sweater and boots wearing kinda gal, so adding to my summer wardrobe is a priority right now. Anybody else have that problem? What do you wear in the summer?