Friday, February 26, 2010

Project: Sewing machine mishap

Why does this happen? And it happens a lot. Right when I start to sew, the machine gobbles up the thread (it's the top thread pictured there on the bottom side). Sometimes it's so bad it gets all wound up in the bobbin case and I have to open that up and pull it out. It does not matter what thread I'm using, what type of needle I'm using, or the fabric. In this case I was sewing two pieces of knit cotton together with the appropriate needle. I also had my machine serviced recently. If I start with the needle up, needle down, new needle, old needle, in the fabric a bit, at the edge of the fabric, it's all the same and it's driving me nuts.

Is there a Car Talk for sewing machines?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Project: Another cape

Yeah, I know. I've gone cape crazy over here. But this one was for a gift. Our friends are like way cooler than us and they're really into bikes (um, almost as much as Mr. Lemon and his entourage). I knew I wanted to make their kid a cape using recycled (upcycled?) t-shirts but I had NO IDEA I would find this awesome t-shirt with bikes all over it. Somehow there was another t-shirt at the thrift store in the same color (to do this, you'll need two shirts).

I used red Hello Kitty ribbon that I bought at Target in those fabulous dollar bins (actually this took the entire spool but there were 4 spools in the pack). Zadie is currently enchanted by this kitty -- so much so that she is finally letting us brush her teeth because we are using a Hello Kitty toothbrush so you know it's a big deal.

The inside is that same organic cotton fleece that I bought for the cloth diapers that I never sewed but used for that bird jacket instead. Perfect for slightly chilly Spring days but not too hot. The pattern, once again, is from the awesome Grosgrain blog. I used it to make this and will definitely be using it again. I'm going to do some math and alter the pattern to make a 3 for next year. Such an easy pattern and such clear directions! Like last time, I reinforced the armholes with a little tacking stitch but this time I did that last. I do like to learn from my mistakes (see earlier post).

And you thought I was going to talk about supplies all week...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Project: More fabric

I bought these awesome apples and trees from Alice Kennedy's Timeless Treasures line. Like yesterday's post, these looked great together online but in person, it's way too busy. I can't put Zadie in something with this much print in it. Can you think of something to coordinate? Yesterday I showed prints with solids but I really prefer to mix prints. The owl print is this line is probably too much as well. I have in mind some sort of vintage dress pattern for this one.

This is "Granville" from Alexander Henry. He is absolutely one of my favorite designers. But what the heck do I do with this? As you can see from the type on the selvedge, the pattern is huge. There is an identical print in a smaller pattern but I really like the larger one. I don't really care for the snakeskin-like print in this collection that is supposed to match. So what are you fabric gurus pairing with this one? I'm thinking it would make an awesome skirt.

Help a lady out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Project: Matching

I have to buy a lot of fabrics online so I'm never really sure what I'm going to get. Something that looks blue on the screen may be green and prints are often a different scale than what's in my head. I bought these two prints on Etsy. The red and white print is from Valori Wells' Del Hi line for Freespirit. While the collection is rather large, I couldn't find anything that was meant to go with this. I love the look of the paisley and the dahlia drawings and I love the quality of the line. I ended up finding this light blue solid from one of the local quilt shops. Nice. I think that light blue/aqua and red go together really well and are only starting to gain some cred.

The second print is from Robert Kaufman. There are two other prints in the line that go with this but I'm not into either of them. I don't think you'll ever see me using checks (I don't know why) and I'm just not feeling the little seeds. At that same quilt shop, I found this almost hot pink flannel to go with it. Pink is not in the design at all but it's a perfect complement to the blues. As long as a color is the same value (like this one is with the body of the birds), you can often make it work. I still don't know what I'm going to do with either of these but it's a lot easier to get to work on a project when you don't have to run out for supplies or wait for something to come in the mail. I like having coordinating fabrics on hand. What do you do when you buy something online that's not exactly what you were expecting?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Project: Great Blizzard of 2010 Pattern Haul

Just over two weeks after we got several massive and consecutive snowstorms, they plowed our street. I took advantage of the momentary road visibility and brought a couple of bags of junk to Goodwill so I could visit the awesome thrift store across the way.

I picked up all some very cool vintage trim, some really beautiful handkerchiefs, and all of these patterns for about 10 bucks.

I have current plans to make the belted top (top image) and the little white dress with rick rac trim (bottom image). See my flickr for notes.

I wanted to make that blue top (top photo) but realized when I got home that it's not the right size. I'm really bummed about that but I should be able to alter it. For now, it goes in the bin with the rest of the little girl patterns that are too big for Zadie. The future holds good things.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Project: a feature!

The amazing folks over at Feeling Stitchy featured my Yeti Dreams of Soup dress on their blog. It's a great site full of all the latest stuff in the world of embroidery: new patterns, some projects, free tutorials, and a lot of talent.

It's an honor to be there. Thanks so much!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Project: Maintenance

Wow. It's only been about 6 weeks but this little project is really taking off. Welcome lots of new readers! Just taking a minute to point out some new stuff.

I added that little Google friend connect widget last week (see left sidebar) and I do love watching it grow. There is also a button that takes you to the Facebook fan page. Basically it will import the daily posts and be a nice gathering spot. Every once in a while I'll add an update about something that's noteworthy but don't expect a lot of spam.

Don't forget about the Giveaway. It ends on Monday so add a comment or post to Twitter (@LemonCadet) to enter.

The entries for the Lil Boo Blue Design challenge are all up. There were 151 so I'm in some steep competition. Wish me luck! I've also made very little progress on my Pattern Challenge stuff because it has been snowing every day for months. I'll be shopping for fabric on Saturday so look for some updates soon.

Thanks for paying attention.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Project: Interview with Lizzy House

Lizzy Dish Fabric Collection

Welcome to the first of Project: Project interview series, "Not the Same Five Questions." There are some really exciting things in store. I'm so excited that the first interview is with the amazing and talented fabric designer Lizzy House.

Red Letter Day Collection

Your fabric collections are really different (from each other and from anything else out there). What is your inspiration?

I travel a lot. I really have a hard time sitting still for too long so I am generally on the go. When I am on the go, as much as I am in museums and shops and what not, most of the time I am spending abroad, or anywhere, is in transit. So I look at color, and I overhear conversations, and I read, and then I draw. My work is a direct reflection of my surroundings. I got the idea for Red Letter Day when I was reading Hans Christian Anderson on a plane. Castle Peeps was perusing a Fra Angelico book on a trip. But I think it's more than just reading or seeing, it's the combination of everything together. It's visiting friends. It's playing Nintendo. It's reading everything someone ever wrote. It's being in Europe. It's their candy. It's my love for the Mid-Century, textile history and the Bauhaus. So I feel like that accounts for my lines being different than most of what's out there. And my designs change because I get over things quickly. So, I just move on to the next thing instead of trying to rework a group. I feel very strongly that I am growing through these lines that I am producing, and in that there is no need to dwell, only move forward.

How to Enter the World of Textile Design

You recently wrote and released an electronic book, How to Enter the World of Textile Design. What prompted that decision? Why are you sharing your secrets?

I felt impressed to write it because it's a hard thing to get into. It can seem impossible. But the impossibility is just smoke and mirrors. SO. Why not give everyone a chance. Maybe we will have better designs, and better choices as a result. I talk about how I struggled in the Introduction of the book, and I just don't want people to have to struggle like that. It's hard enough designing. So I've just chosen to pay it forward, for all of the good and love that has been shared with me.

Beyond the Sea Prints

Your background is in printmaking. Can you explain what that means for your design process?

It effects my process in that I am always trying to figure out how I could print something by hand. I end up thinking in layers. I have a strong background in drawing so everything starts the same, whether it is fabric designs or a fine art print. It all starts in a sketch book, with the same initial thought process, "how could I print this?"

Cherri House Quilt

On your blog you write about working closely with your mom on projects. How has that been?

It's been really good! We work together for our pattern company Cherry House Quilts. I work as the Art director and every job that goes along with that, and I try and keep the brand on track. We have had a lot of success over the past few years since we've started. It's just pretty sweet to be able to build something with her and see it grow and succeed.

Sneak Peak at the Castle Peeps Collection

Castle Peeps is coming soon. So what’s next?

I have another line that will be released in the fall which I am really excited about. It's definitely a departure from what I've released thus far, but still very much my own. Beyond that, I am designing new fabric for next year already. And in worlds other than textiles, there are lots and lots of projects in the works that I am very excited about. So lots of good things to look forward to, and unfortunately I can't say much more than that. Just know, that whatever it is, it's going to cause a scene. I just love causing a scene. It's my flair for the dramatic.

Thank you, Lizzy House, for your candid answers and a little insight into your process and experiences! In addition to her fabrics, she has an Etsy shop where she sells limited edition prints.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project: Men's Dress Shirt Dress

Since Spring isn't listening and we just keep getting more snow, I've decided to stop fighting it and just go with this Wintery theme: Corduroy! ManiMina on Etsy has some really great patterns. A few months ago I bought a set of patterns for recycling men's dress shirts into cute toddler wear. One pattern makes this awesome dress, another makes a top and skirt, and the third has you turn the arms of the shirt into a pair of pants.

I bought a super thick brown corduroy shirt at the Salvation Army for a buck. I thought it would be great for winter. When I took these photos the dress fit perfectly. Then two weeks and a growth spurt later, it was a tunic. I don't know how Mr. Lemon and I turned out this tall kid. I'm 5'2" and Mr. Lemon is no basketball player.

I decided to add some length to the sleeves since this would be worn when it's cold (and now with leggings, also super cute). That was not successful at first; the armholes, which fit perfectly with short sleeves, were way too tight when lengthened. I cut an ovalish shape out of some of the scraps and sewed them into the armpit area after ripping apart that seam. Now it's perfect. I will have to watch out for that when lengthening other patterns. It's no fun to hem sleeves so I added some cute bias trim that I bought on Etsy (it's Michael Miller) before I knew you could make your own.

The dress seemed dark to me so I went nuts with my sewing machine's very limited selection of decorative stitches and added a bunch of detail. I just put some pins in to give me some direction. That was quick, fun and really easy so I'm definitely going to keep doing that little trick.

Finally, I dug through my stash of vintage buttons and found some interesting ones to use in place of the hideous ones that came on the shirt (I bought a tin full of buttons at a yard sale for $3 a few years ago -- what a find!). The only really challenging part about making this dress, for me, was the thickness of the fabric -- especially where there were existing details in the shirt. It was a lot of bulk for my machine but the Huskystar once again pulled through.

I loved making this. I had made the same pattern with short sleeves for a friend in the Fall and will definitely use this pattern again. There are some other tutorials floating out there online for similar projects out of men's dress shirts so I'm going to try them all and report back to you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Project: Design Challenge finished! Yeti dreams of soup.

If you were a yeti, what would dream about? Soup!

I'm so happy with the way this dress for the Design Challenge turned out. And Zadie loves it to. When I finished it I held it over my legs so it would be at her eye level and she screamed, "Yeti dress!!!!" and gave it (and me) a huge hug. Success.

For my embellishments, I did a reverse applique using one of my yeti t-shirts. I'm happy with the way it turned out and it was totally worth the challenge. If you like doing this technique, try it with a design element. Just trace your image onto thin paper (or photocopy it) to use as a template for placing the fabric underneath your garment. Use a lot of pins to get it right. I stitched around the edges before I cut then went around it again after. Basically I felt that the machine stitching wasn't standing out next to the embroidery so I wanted it to pop a bit more. It wasn't necessary to the construction because I used Wonder Under around the edges of the yeti.

I did the embroidery starting with the bowl of soup. I mapped out where I wanted everything with pins and then just did it freehand. I wanted it to look dreamy so I didn't want to draw on the dress and "trace" with the needle and thread. Finally, I surrounded it with the thought bubble.

Doing this project really reminded me of my love for embroidery. I'll be doing more of this type of work to Zadie's future outfits. If anyone wants a tutorial on my reverse applique, leave a comment. If there is enough demand, I'll write one up.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Project: Design Challenge in Progress

Lil Blue Boo sent me the pattern for the Design Challenge via email right away and after work, I got started. The whole Lemon clan looked through the Goodwill bin and Mr. Lemon donated some of his shirts to the cause while I pulled a couple of shirts Zadie had grown out of from the pile.

I ended up choosing the stripes for the bottom because that had been a favorite shirt of mine but it shrunk up too short. The sleeves are from a shirt I got for a dollar. I put Zadie in it all the time but she recently grew out of it. The red and grey are from pre-baby shirts I'll never ever wear again.

Mr. Lemon had gotten dinner together during an unusually long nap so I cut all the pieces out before we ate. After Zadie's bedtime, I stitched the whole thing up in less than an hour. It is a very clear and simple pattern. (I used existing hems for both the bottom of the dress and the sleeves for a more polished look).

I've already started my embellishments (because that's what the challenge is all about). This morning I asked Zadie what the _____ who is now living at the bottom of the shirt will do. She said, "Soup!" so soup it is. Mr. Lemon's trip was cancelled so I'll be able to spend more time on this today than I thought so I'm hoping for greatness. More on Monday!

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Project: Pinafore

Apparently my post about the market bag did absolutely nothing to bring on Spring. In fact, we got even more snow. So here's round two of hoping for better weather. But seriously, it can't get much worse.

I bought the pattern from Aliyah's Hope Chest on Etsy. She emailed the instructions but sent the pattern in the mail. She also sells pinafore kits in her shop. The pinafore was incredibly easy to make thanks to all the detail. There was one tricky part but she had a little video up on YouTube that showed how to do it. After seeing how it was constructed, I didn't have any problems. I actually made 4 more of these to give as Christmas gifts but my friends must not have cameras because I haven't seen any photos.

For the pinafore Zadie is wearing, I used awesome Tina Givens fabric (Chandelier Medallion) in chartreuse for the front and a vintage red fine wale corduroy for the inside. I wish I had fussy cut the print because it's so amazing but that's definitely part of the learning process.

It's perfectly reversible -- no weird seams or anything like that. Zadie is wearing the red side here. Unfortunately, my kid is also obsessed with fleece and demanded to wear that ugly hoodie. I will definitely be making many more of these. How cute they will be with little bloomers in the summer.

For more about Project: Project, read this post.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Project: Another challenge

Always a sucker for a sewing challenge, I am throwing myself into the Lil Blue Boo & Dharma Trading Design Challenge ring. The deal is you have to buy one of the Lil Blue Boo patterns (all pattern proceeds are being donated to Three Angels Haiti). Then you have to sew up the garment and embellish it.

I bought the super cute Sienna t-shirt dress because I'm crazy and love to torture myself. I hate knit and my sewing machine feels the same way but, oh well, here goes. As soon as I saw the pattern I had a bunch of ideas. Unfortunately the deadline is Monday (Monday!) so I gotta get busy. Also, Mr. Lemon is heading out of town for the weekend so I'm flying solo on wild toddler duty. Wish me luck. You'll be seeing some yetis in the future. You know it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Project: Market Bag

We are so over Winter! After yet another pile of snow (18"!), we are expecting a bunch more over the next few days. I feel like this will never end. I had been saving this post for warmer times but maybe this will help me get to Spring sooner.

My friend has a daughter the same age as mine. Both of our families go to the Farmers' Market every weekend. I feel like it's this little ritual we both do even though we live hours apart. When she made an adorable market bag for her daughter, I had to do the same. Last summer, Zadie was barely walking but every Saturday, she would somehow get to the kitchen and point up at our canvas bags and gesture very excitedly. She knew it was market day.

After compulsively buying a bunch of the Lizzie House fabric from the Red Letter Day collection (seen in this post), I decided to actually use it. I spent a few minutes searching around on the internet to find a pattern or a tutorial and after reading a few, just pulled something together. It was surprisingly easy and I finished during a nap (one of the very rare 3-hour naps). The handle is a wide grosgrain ribbon that had come tied around a pre-packaged gift of some sort. I also added that little pocket on the front.

"Not much longer now, my little Smurflings, not much longer now." That quote from a childhood favorite is something I say to myself (and unfortunately out loud a good bit) when there's a lot of waiting left to do but you need to be reminded that time will pass quickly. Spring will be here before we know it and we will be able to put vegetables in this little bag instead of random toys.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Project: Giveaway!

Contest is over. Click here for the winner.

In celebration of the fabulous new look to the blog (see awesome banner above), I decided to do a giveaway. But first, more about the banner. Kimberly of FireDancer Designs had some of the best graphics I found while searching on Etsy. She has a nice, clean sense of design without a lot of fluff. She was super easy to work with (and I know I am not!). Don't you love it? I really don't know html but I am trying to teach myself some stuff. I was able to change the standard template colors from Blogger to the ones I had chosen for my Google Friend Connect gadget (see left sidebar) and Kimberly used those same colors for the banner. Somehow I also figured out how to remove the border that was around the compulsory header.

This blog isn't going to be about a lot of giveaways but a new look calls for some cheer. I stitched up this dress from a pattern I got on Etsy. It is a roomy size 2. The fabric is Alexander Henry's "Smiles Around the World" and is getting pretty hard to find. The dress has a cute little pleat up top and wide bell sleeves.

So if you want a chance to win this, leave a comment on this post. For extra chances, post it to your Twitter with @LemonCadet somewhere in your tweet. I'll randomly pick a winner Feb. 22.

For more about Project: Project, read this post.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Project: Pattern Challenge

Yesterday on Facebook, Sew, Mama, Sew posted about the new pattern challenge project over at Come and See the Seitz. When I was developing my ideas for Project: Project, honestly, the thought to make stuff for myself never crossed my mind. Faced with the temptation of a new challenge, I decided to jump right in.

So the deal is that participants have to set some goals, put them in writing, and join a flickr! group. Done, done, and done! (And that last part was easy -- you know me and flickr!). Since this is a pattern challenge, I have to use someone else's patterns and challenge myself. Sarah's hopes for the project are that by the end, we'll have a huge archive of pattern reviews that will be useful to other people attempting to make those same designs.

I haven't made a garment for myself since I took Flat Pattern Design in college (1997 to date myself). I am starting to realize that I've never actually made anything for myself from someone else's pattern. I think this challenge is off to a great and challenging start. We're in the middle of some bizarre freezing rain, snow, and ice so I can't exactly drive to the fabric store (45 minutes in either direction). My meagre stash of sewing books will have to do for now. My first two challenges come from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing: the Go-Everywhere Shirt Dress and the Kimono Dress with an Obi Sash. When I have time, I'll find a vintage pattern to sew from and something from the fabric store.

My personal goals are to sew one item for myself each month for at least 4 months. If the Pattern Challenge is still in swing after that, I may just keep going.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Project: Jane (part 2, first meeting)

Wow. The Jane Austen book club meeting that I wrote about earlier finally arrived. I didn't know what to expect but I was a little nervous.

What a pleasant experience, however! My sister-in-law and I went together and we walked into the sitting room at this huge hundred-year-old house to find a group of women of all ages. We weren't the youngest and we weren't the oldest. Everyone there absolutely loved Jane Austen and given the fitting setting, we dove right in to introductions combined with a discussion of our favorite scenes from the novel and our favorite characters. We even talked about the plot. We also spent a lot of time discussing what we knew of Jane Austen's life and how that related to the writing.

Very cool. It was really nice to get out of the house and think about something other than my job (which has sucked today). We met some interesting people (many of whom had moved to town recently) and tried to stage a coup to get the next meeting moved up. Unlike grad school where everyone who says something is just trying to sound smarter than the person who made the last comment, I completely enjoyed the discussion, hardly said a thing, and kept my ears open. There's a lot to be learned. A lot.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Project: Kimono

Always a sucker for a free pattern, I downloaded this amazing kimono tutorial from the Habitual blog. As soon as I saw this Lizzy House fabric in the Red Letter Day collection, I knew they would be perfect. And what's better, I think I made this whole thing from fat quarters (not sure about the back).

I knew it would be worn in the winter so I added some length to the sleeves. Instead of ties, I used a hidden snap closure for the outer layer and a button with an elastic loop for the inside. This was the project that got me addicted to bias tape. I hadn't even known before this that there was such a thing as a bias tape maker -- and now I'm considering buying some different sizes. Ironing is so good for my space cadet tendencies.

This one piece has gotten a LOT of wear (only a recent growth spurt made the sleeves too short but perfect for Spring). It's roomy enough for layering and super easy to put on. Just beware that your toddler will learn how the unsnap before the resnap.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Modern Handmade Child Feature

One of my onesies was featured in the Spring 2010 issue of the EtsyKids online magazine, modern handmade child. See pages 10 - 11, "Turquoise: the Color of 2010."

It is, by far, one of the worst photos I have ever taken of something I've made.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Project: Buttons or Snaps?

This weekend I was able to all but finish the Oliver + S playsuit I was working on. It's adorable. We put it on the poor kid even though our house was a bit chilly. Now when she sees it she says, "Cold." Yet another parent-of-the-year award...

It will be warm enough for her to wear this about the same time she turns 2. So what do you think: buttons or snaps? She is getting good and snapping and unsnapping but not so good with buttons yet. I like setting snaps (er, having my husband set them) and I've never made a buttonhole. Hmmmm....
For more on Project:Project, read this post.