A Shirt for My Father

Pattern: BurdaSyle's Men's Shirt 7045
Fabric: cotton
Cost: $30

I have childhood memories of my dad wearing shirts that my mother had made him. I don't think she's sewn much for him in recent years, but when they were dating she made him some wonderful shirts and pullover sweaters. Some of them he still wears to this day, nearly thirty years later.

For his birthday, I was inspired by the longevity of my mom's creations to make my dad something, too. He often has trouble finding shirts with the right fit through his shoulders, so I stole one of his garments that fit him well and used BurdaSyle 7045 to make one of my own.

The print was one I had long admired in the fabric store, and reminded me of the kind of things my mom made. It's beautifully thick yet soft, with a few natural imperfections in the cotton. At first Mr. Made wondered if the print was too crazy, but once the shirt came together it all seemed to work. I think the one change I would make would be to add more buttons down the front, and possibly make it a bit bigger at the side seams.

My dad has been wonderfully gracious, and wore it when he came up to visit the other day (I stole a pic of him as he met our newest family member.) He says the fit is great, and that my mom definitely noticed the pattern matching ;) I took my time with this project, but it all came together rather quickly, and I would certainly consider making him one again!

Blue and Gold

His pattern: BurdaSyle's Men's Shirt 7045
Her pattern: Grainline's Archer
Fabric: 4 yds collegiate cotton broadcloth
Cost: $36 for two shirts

Sometimes you get an idea in your head that is a bit too wacky to be real. The danger when you sew, however, is that you have the ability to make those wacky ideas a reality. Such was the case when I decided that Mr. Made and I needed some new collegiate gear from our alma mater. And that the gear in question should be matching Hawaiian-style shirts plastered in our school's logo.

You can actually buy this fabric for a lot of schools online, and when I saw our logo I knew there was nothing stopping me. Well, except that it sold out and I had to wait a few more months for it to be back in stock. Apparently I am not the only one with this wacky idea?!

The shirts themselves sewed up rather quickly, and were excellent practice for doing a collar stand and button band. The two patterns are ones I actually plan to use a lot: Grainline Archer and BurdaSyle Men's 7045 (printed pattern sold through Simplicity). I'd made each up once before, and it was nice to have the chance to fine-tune some of the construction.

I actually really like the BurdaStyle pattern: the fit is good, the directions are clear (unlike their online patterns), and the construction is simple and straightforward. The only thing I had issues with was that the back of the shirt doesn't match up very well with the yoke: both times I have made it the back piece has been a bit too wide, yet the pattern does not instruct you to ease it in. On the whole though, it's a great classic pattern to have.

I hardly need to tell you about Grainline's Archer as it seems just about everyone has sewn it up. One change I did make, however, was to extend the center front on both sides to create a fold-over placket. Sewing on a separate placket seemed like unnecessary extra work to me, and since the men's pattern did it this way I figured I wouldn't be breaking too many rules.

Print matching with this one was a bit ridiculous. I made sure that the print was lined up vertically and pretty much left it at that. I wish I had made the fronts match a bit better, but it was difficult to work out after they had been folded under twice. That, and I didn't have too much extra fabric. On the whole though, not bad for a novelty item!

Once made, I have to say that they look ridiculously bright in my living room. All that blue and gold together combined with the squares and logos had even me questioning this wacky idea. Once in the stadium, however, they hardly stick out, providing just enough uniqueness to be noteworthy.

I wish I could say our shirts served as a good luck charm, but the Bears did not do too well. I'm not sure even the wackiest outfit could save them at this point... At least the shirts were a crowd-pleaser! 

Bonnie Top

Pattern: Bluegingerdoll's Bonnie Knit Top
Fabric: panel-printed knit
Cost: $30

Indie designers must have been working overtime this summer because I have had so many new patterns to share with you lately! The latest is Bluegingerdoll's Bonnie, a vintage-inspired sweater top made from knit fabric. I was a pattern tester for this one, and sewed it up in one evening!

Unlike some of the other knit tops on the market right now, what I really love about this pattern is all the options. The collar can be cut as crew-neck, scooped, or boat-neck. The sleeves have options for full, three-quarter, or flutter sleeves. And the length can be made cropped with a waistband or hip-length. Abby has really outdone herself this time!

The other thing I got super excited about was that I found the perfect fabric! I have seen these striped tops all over lately where the stripe pattern ends above the bust, and I actually found a panel-printed knit that allowed me to do the same thing! Each panel had stripes running down the center, but big white spaces at either end, allowing me to cut this top with white framing my face. I absolutely love it! Hoping to squeeze one more kimono sleeved tee out of this fabric as well.

As you can see, I made mine up with a boat neck, 3/4 sleeves, and hip-length. I have been wearing it once a week since I made it up a few weeks ago, so I know this one is going to be a hit! It's that perfect transitional piece for cooler weather. In the spring I think I may make up a flutter-sleeve one, too!

Use code BONNIE at checkout to get 10% off through this weekend in the Bluegingerdoll store ;) 

The Maya Dress

Pattern: Marilla Walker's new Maya Dress/Top
Fabric: 2 yds woven cotton 
Cost: fabric from Melizza via Kestrel's Spring Sewing Swap

Who loves a new pattern! I do! I do! This is a brand new pattern from Marilla Walker, entitled the Maya Dress/Top. It's a kimono-sleeved dress or top pattern that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down, much like a traditional Guatemalan Huipil of Marilla's Central American mother and family.

It was this last fact that truly had me intrigued. Long-time followers (all four of you) know that I feel a deep connection to Central America, having grown up speaking Spanish and traveling when I could in the region. In 2009 I tried my hand at refashioning traditional Mexican dresses while living in Mexico City, and many years before that I actually had a simple Huipil made for me in Guatemala. While there are certainly many ways to customize this pattern, I love the regional and deeply personal inspiration!

When Marilla called for pattern testers, I jumped at the chance. I've been a follower of her classic, fun style, and have recently enjoyed her makes such as completely hand sewn jeans (!!), beautiful hand-printed fabric, and now this chic dress/top pattern! The garment truly reflects her casual, well-dressed style, and can be made as either an easy dress or top, with or without the button placket. I was totally in!

The basis of this dress is a fabric from the wonderful Melizza at Pincushion Treats, who was my partner for Kestrel's Spring Sewing Swap (incidentally, she also just made a wonderful Latin-inspired dress). Something about the crisp whiteness and embroidered details of this fabric just seemed perfect for the pattern. I took advantage of the topstitching at the facings, placket and hem to add contrasting blue thread. The lines aren't perfect and look slightly "handmade" but in this case I really like that aspect - it lends a sort of folksy vibe to the dress.

I plan on making this up as a top several more times - it is so helpful to have a kimono-sleeve pattern because it uses such little fabric and is very quick to make. I'm sure you've noticed, but I tend to wear a lot of these! The only thing I would do differently next time is to make it narrower at the neckline to better fit my narrow shoulders. If you aren't as big of a fan of the loose drape, you could do the same.

I don't know if B will be appearing in all of my pics from now on, but she certainly is a good model! Here she is the first time she met her BFF Hannah at the park, right in the middle of our shoot :)

Cat Pillows

Pattern: envelope pillow case (I like this tutorial)
Fabric: design by me, printed with Spoonflower
Cost: $38 for four pillows

Well, I'm baaack! After a month of studying, no sewing (no fun!), and 645 ignored posts in my blog reader, I'm happy to make a triumphant return to the sewing blog world. 

My first project back ticks the boxes for both selfless and social sewing: cat pillows for one of my bffs and my entry into Miss Crayola Creepy's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. Who says you can't participate if you don't own cat?!

For my friend's birthday, she requested pillows of her beloved feline, Lucifer "Lucy" Chao. We were inspired by these animal pillows we saw in a shop in Austin, and so I made some up for her featuring pop-art renditions of Lucy. Each pillow has a different image on the front, and a coordinating color on the back. 

The images themselves are actually not that difficult to make. I played around in Photoshop until I found a technique that worked for me, and here's what I ended up with:

Step 1: Select photo
Step 2: Erase the background: Add layer mask - paint in black to erase/white to undo
Step 3: Desaturate: Image - Adjustments - Desaturate
Step 4: Add artistic effect: Filter - Sketch - Photocopy Effect (adjust as desired; may need to adjust contrast on original image)
Step 5: Cut out white pixels: Use the Magic Wand to select and cut out white pixels in image
Step 6: Color: Color fill layer - Choose desired line color - Make clipping mask
Step 7: Fill: Create a new layer behind the lines, paint in with desired fill color
Step 8: Add artistic effect: Filter - Sketch - Halftone Pattern Effect (adjust as desired)
Finish: Can be printed and ironed onto a pillow, or sent to Spoonflower

A zoomed in version of the final product:

I had Mr. Made blow up my images in Illustrator (complete with cutting lines), and sent it off to Spoonflower. While I had heard a lot about the service, this was my first time using Spoonflower and I have to say that I'm impressed! For $18.75 including shipping, they printed up my exact images on a yard of fabric and had it mailed to me in under two weeks. The cotton was a bit more sheer than I had expected, but the colors were true and bright. Of course, the yardage isn't cheaper than most fabrics you can get in a fabric shop, but for a special-occasion custom print I was very happy. Including custom fabric printing, coordinating fabric, and the pillow inside each cover, the total cost for each came to less than $10 per cushion.

The pillow cases themselves are just an envelope design, meaning no zip closures (similar to this tutorial). I used the selvages so I didn't have to hem around the opening, and they came together in under an hour. 

Of course, I couldn't leave our new puppy Beatrix out of the fun (I am most definitely a crazy dog lady now). With three images for my friend, there was space for one more of B. Ours is in a black and white style that more closely fits our decor, with a black backing. I can't tell if B likes it or is just confused!