Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One For Him and One For Her >>> Sacs of Wool

I recently made a bag for him from wool...

...that used to be a coat.  Or rather, two coats.

I really enjoy making bags.  It is an especially nice way to upcycle garments that just don't have much going for them anymore.

And wool is super expensive, unless you pick it up at the thrift store for a couple of dollars in the form of a coat, or a sweater, or a skirt.

So, these two coats came together as a gift for my husband.  This is a much more manly bag (and more suitable) than the Trader Joe's reusable bag that he has been using for quite some time.

I like to put lots of pockets in the bags that I make.  There is one in the front for hard to find items like keys.

There is also a very large one inside for a water bottle, a wallet, or other things you don't want to get crushed.  And, it would not be complete without a small pocket to hold a pen.

I used the striped fabric for the inside to give it a bit of a nautical feel.

The idea for the flap came from the coat itself.  As I thought about closure for the bag, I saw that part of the collar from the coat already had a button hole, ready to go.  I cut it across making a triangle so that the button hole would line up with the button on the pocket.  And it was done, just like that.  It felt like a moment of upcycling bliss, using a piece directly from the coat that way.  No seams or button holes to sew.

then I made a bag for her...

....made from a tweedy, wool skirt.  Just one skirt.

I made this bag with a pattern offered by Noodlehead called the Trail Tote.  I was drawn to the bag because of the piping.  I really wanted to try it.  So, when I decided to make a bag to enter into the county fair the night before I had to turn it in, this is what I made.

Now for a peek inside...

I had fun with the mix of grey, red, and white.  The zip pocket on the front was also a great detail.  Another great place to stash your keys or sunglasses.

I used a button tab closure instead of the magnetic snap, just adding it like in my Bucket Basket Tote that I made a few months ago.  I also just made the strap one piece with no hardware attached.  I like my bags to be lightweight and don't mind not having the adjustable pieces.

The strap turned out a bit long, but it works well as a cross body bag.

The pattern comes in two sizes.  I made the small bag which is good for quick trips to the store or a night out when you don't want to carry much.

I know it's a bit late to be posting about wool now that we are in March...March!, but now is actually the perfect time to gather up some of your own cast off wool at your local thrift store as they make the transition from winter to spring time clothing.  Just remember, the longer the coat (or skirt!) you buy, the easier the fabric will be to work with.  For instance, the grey that I used on the first bag was from a very long coat with no seams down the back.  Of course, you can always mix different wool fabrics to make your own one of a kind sac of wool.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Cheyenne Cup of Tea <<< A Floral Flavored Gingham

It is so great when you find the perfect top and then realize that you can actually make the same top over and over again in as many colors and fabrics that you can possibly find.

The Cheyenne Tunic is truly my cup of tea.  It is comfortable, it is versatile, and flattering all at the same time.  It also has just enough part and pieces to it that you can really give it your own flair.

I began, thinking that I would make the tunic in all black and white gingham.  I was given tons of the fabric and thought it would be a good place to start.  I started cutting it all out, intending to make a long sleeved top.  As I laid out the sleeves with the body, I realized it was just way too much black and white checkers for me.

So, I went on the hunt through my stash for something to complement the fabric and found a beautiful, colorful, cheery floral.  When I put them next to one another I knew it was meant to be...

It suddenly felt like the piece came alive by adding a little coral here and a little yellow there.  I ended up with splashes of color on the front placket, the top of the back, and the sleeves.

The Cheyenne Tunic pattern is from Hey June!  This is the second pattern I've used from Hey June.  The first was the Sloan Leggings, which is also a great pattern.  I blogged about them in my last post.

The pdf pattern file is set up nicely so that you can print just the size(s) that you want to make.  The instructions were also really clear.  I referred to the sew along tutorial on the Hey June website for most of it as well.  The actual pictures taken of the process really helped, especially when it came time to do the plackets.

The biggest challenge that I ran into had to do with the fabric and sleeves.  I began by cutting the long sleeve version.  However, when I tried it on and tried to roll up the long sleeves, it became too tight to roll the fabric up all the way up to use the button tab.  The two issues I found were that the fabric was a bit thick and I am also a tall person.  I probably should have lengthened the sleeves from the very beginning.

By the time I realized it wasn't going to work, I had already cut both sleeves.  I also realized that I would probably be wearing the top with the sleeves rolled up all of the time anyway, so I just cut it back to the 3/4 sleeve line.  Here's the picture of the cut.  By the way, the little floral accent was a nice way to hide the stitching from the sleeve tab on the underside of the sleeve.

Cutting sleeve back to 3/4 sleeve (good bye to my beautiful placket!)
The 3/4 sleeve was still a bit short for my arm - it hit me pretty much at the elbow.  In order to make the cuff more comfortable, I lengthened it and just overlapped it.  Next time, I plan to cut a longer sleeve and also grade the sleeve from medium to large in order to widen the lower part of the arm.

Another adjustment I made was to leave off the buttons on the front placket.  I really liked the look of just having the solid pretty fabric without the muddling of buttons and button holes.  I just sewed the placket up part of the way so it is still possible to get it on and off.

The Cheyenne Tunic is definitely going to become a staple for me as it can be made in all sorts of fabrics.  I have a similar top that I bought which has a rayon sort of front and knit for the back and sleeves.  It is so comfortable.  I'd love to make more of them and plan to soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

From Slumber to Sloan >>> Upcycled Leggings

I basically live in skirts and leggings over the winter.  I've discovered since switching from jeans to leggings, that leggings actually do a better job at keeping my legs warm.  That's not why I originally made the switch, but it's definitely a reason to be excited about them.

As the weather began to turn cold, I realized that I only have two pair of leggings that I really like to wear.  One of them is more of a cropped fall/spring pair and the other (which I'm wearing right now) is a down to your ankles pair that gets worn pretty much every day.  I realized that I REALLY needed another pair (for everyone's sake).

I looked in stores, but wasn't too happy - so much black, no creativity whatsoever.  And, no brown in sight!  I came to the realization that to get any sort of variety, I'd have to make them myself!  So, I went to Pinterest and found the Sloan legging pattern by Hey June (affiliate).  It sounded like a great pattern to me especially when I saw that there was actually a tall size included with the pattern.  To top it all off I got it on sale - what more can I say?

Ok, so now you are thinking - why the stripes?  Since this was the first time I had sewn leggings, I wanted to find some fabric I could practice with.  I was shopping at my local thrift store and came across the perfect knit dress...a very large knit dress.  Time to come off the rack, wake up, and become something new!

It happened to be a Liz Claiborne dress that I got for just $1.  I was pretty happy with the find because it was just one long piece of knit fabric with no seams down the middle.  The fabric is made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex.  The pattern calls for a fabric with a bit more stretch, but I really like the feel of cotton.  My favorite pair of leggings (the ones I have on right this minute:) has the exact same blend and they are just so much more comfortable than the other ones I have, made of more stretchy material.                   

The pattern was really easy to cut.  I just turned the dress inside out and and laid the pattern down on top of both layers, pinned, and cut them out at the same time.  This actually helped with lining up the stripes for sewing because I left the original seams intact (they somehow sewed them perfectly aligned - amazing).

There was really only enough fabric to do the legs.  But, I found an outgrown kid's navy blue knit skirt to cut up for the waistband.  I think it matches great and added some contrast to the never ending stripes.

While I was at it, I also added the two grey patches right above the knees.  The material came from a sweater that was too small.  I've been itching to cut up a sweater - just to see what would happen.  Would it all suddenly unravel?  It was surprisingly easy to cut and sew and didn't run away on me (and quite an exhilarating experience at that).

Instead of piecing the leggings, I just did an overlay.  I'm glad I did it that way because I discovered that it did not work to just lay the piece straight across the stripes.  It had to be angled in order to reach the other side.

I finally figured it had to do with the lines on either side of the leg being different angles and that I should have probably cut the pieces at an angle to begin with.  The only way that thought even entered my mind is because my daughter is doing Geometry for math - found out it really is pretty useful stuff.

So, I guess you could call this pair a sort of muslin (who says a muslin has to be boring and useless!).  In making the muslin I cut the leggings a size larger than what I actually measured because I'm always paranoid that my cutting won't be straight enough.  In that case, it always helps to leave some wiggle room.

I probably left a little bit too much wiggle room because they are pretty roomy.  And, although I used the elastic around the top of the waistband, I did not have any of the knit interfacing.  I think that would definitely help to make it more snug.  For my next pair (yes, there will be many more to come), I will be more brave and cut the right size and try to get ahold of some of that knit interfacing.

I didn't sew in the pocket because I didn't think I'd need one in this pair.  In reality these will probably become a pair of pajamas or a wear around the house kind of pair of leggings.  But, if I get brave enough or am in the right kind of mood, I might wear them like this!

I don't know, I think I actually kind of like them...