Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sewing: Child's Apron

One of my nieces is turning 7 in a few days. According to her mom, one of my favorite people, she is currently interested in, among many other things, board games and Easy-Bake Oven stuff. We already got her a board game for Christmas, so for her birthday I wanted to focus on her growing cooking hobby. Besides gifting her a fun measuring cup set that builds into a robot (via ModCloth of course!), I wanted to make her an apron. I only had about half a yard of fabric that was in one of her favorite colors (Kermit the Frog green), so I edited a waist apron pattern from One-Yard Wonders that was meant for an adult. Actually, the pattern was even big for ME, so I was going to have to edit it anyway. After measuring the dimensions of the original pattern, I calculated two-thirds of the dimensions and drew up a new pattern for the apron front and apron back. I figured that would fit a 7-year-old. For the trims and apron ties, I shortened the assigned length but used the assigned width because the widths were based on the seam allowance and how much folding would have to be done at the seam allowance, and not on the dimensions of the apron per se.

You can't see it too well in the photos, but it's a pouch-pocket apron, which means that you can put a hand in each pocket and your hands will meet inside the pouch. For a simple-looking apron, it was surprisingly complicated because of the reinforcing trim along the pockets. Basically, I had to make homemade bias tape, my first time doing so, and somehow carefully align the tape along the curvy edges and sew them together. It turned out way better than I would have thought. No crying this time because I didn't put a lot of pressure on myself for this. If it worked out, great. If it didn't, then the other gifts we already got my niece would have been enough.

Another slightly-sticky issue was how narrow the the apron ties turned out to be; I had to use a large knitting needle to turn the apron ties inside out through one of the narrow sides. In fact, I used the blunt-capped head of the knitting needle because I poked a hole in one of the ties using the tapered end. Yes, I did cut out and sew new pieces to replace the damaged tie, but that was actually quick to do.

Anyway, despite these difficulties, can I just reiterate how much I love this sewing book, One-Yard Wonders? So far, everything I've made from it has turned out well. Maybe not perfectly, but good enough to blog about! :-) While the instructions are not super thorough, the descriptions and accompanying drawings are clear enough that I can figure things out in my head before diving into each step. The book might be too simple for more advanced sewers, but it's just right for me!

xo, Gladys

Full disclosure: I'm a member of Amazon Associates, so if you click through the book link and purchase anything on Amazon, it may result in my earning a small -- very small -- referral fee.

New Shoes: Fluevog Prepares

Unlike Christmases of years past, I knew exactly what I wanted this last December. When my husband asked me for my list, I told him one thing: new Fluevogs from the semi-annual sale in January. It would be a few weeks' wait after Christmas, but I was very patient. I did get some thoughtful stocking stuffers from him during the holidays, but once the Fluevog sale opened the first week of this month, I set to making my final decision. It took another couple of weeks before I made up my mind. However, before going to the Fluevog store on Melrose, I cross-checked at Amazon like I usually do and found that Amazon was selling my top choice (and in my size) for about $30 cheaper, free shipping. While I love my "dealer" Shawn, I couldn't ask my hubby to spend way more on the shoes. Anyway, they came in the mail last week. BEHOLD, my new Volunteer slouch boots from the Prepare family:

I've wanted these boots in this particular color (burnt orange) since they came out in Fall 2011. So glad they went on sale (the other colors did not, presumably because black and gray boots are more popular colorways). These will be great for the rest of the California winter, but they will also be PERFECT for the spring. And hey, they look cute under jeans, too. The silhouette of the heels is just so arresting.

I love my husband! :-)

xo, Gladys

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sewing: Holiday Challenge Pillow

Here is another completed project for my Holiday Challenge: turning a square pillow into a smocked round pillow for my older sister. I finished it last week but only just got around to posting about it. The pattern I used was from One-Yard Wonders, and while I don't think I did such a great job, it was another winner from this book. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of Amazon Associates, so if you click through the book link and purchase anything on Amazon, it may result in my earning a small -- very small -- referral fee.)

This was almost-wholly hand-sewn. It was my first time smocking anything, and wow was it time-intensive. I had to use 1-inch grid fabric (fabric that looks like grid paper with 1-inch squares), poke holes in it for 1.5-inch squares, then transfer the marks onto my pillow fabric by marking dressmaker's/tailor's chalk through the holes. Then I had to draw lines between the chalk dots and use those as guides for where to hand-sew the points together. OK, I know that sounds confusing. And in the actual doing of it I was definitely confused. Precision and focus were necessary for this project, and to be honest I was distracted a lot because of the busy holidays and the seemingly-never ending process of moving. 1) I had to stop and restart several times, so that I had to figure out what to do all over again several times, and 2) the relearning process was made worse by the fact that the chalk marks would fade due to my own hands rubbing on the fabric. Another issue was one that I seem to have more often than I would have expected, which is that the fabric I used for the pillow was an inch too narrow. Usually fabric comes in either 45" or 60" standard widths, at least according to the patterns you buy. But it often seems that fabric actually comes in 44" or 56" or something NOT standard. In this case, it meant that there was one row of smocking that couldn't be completed properly, so there is a bit of a bunch in a row that I couldn't quite fix. So in the photos above, you only see the good sides.

What I'm particularly proud of, however, is the fact that I covered the buttons myself. I almost didn't cover the buttons, with the excuse that I am a beginner, but I'm glad I found a way to do it because the pillow looks way spiffier with matching buttons. I found a good tutorial to make fabric-covered buttons. Then I found a good tutorial to sew the buttons into the pillow with the least amount of piercing -- amazingly, I only had to push the tufting needle through the pillow ONCE.

The pillow isn't perfect and there was too much fabric for the size of the pillow used, but it doesn't look too bad and it was a good learning experience overall. It's something I would try again if I had the time.

xo, Gladys

Friday, January 20, 2012

PSAs and Housekeeping

No outfit post today. Just some announcements and blog-housekeeping items.

  1. SALE: My favorite shoemaker Fluevog is having their semi-yearly sale right now. Check their Clearance pages for your size as well. And if you like to make sure you get the best bargain possible, you can cross-check on Amazon to see if they have your size for a better price. (I did that and got my belated Xmas present from the hubby that post on that to come later! [EDIT: that post is here])
  2. SALE: I mentioned this in the last post, but there is also a ModCloth clearance sale going on right now. The dresses that went on sale for $15 or less are mostly gone, but nicer-quality items that are now $20-50 can still be found. There is an Eva Franco dress on sale for $53, down from $175. It's beautiful, but I'm not getting it because it is just out of my price range, and I'm afraid that it's not my color.
  3. BLOG: I just incorporated the LinkWithin widget, and it makes the blog ever-so-much more fun to navigate. Seriously.
  4. BLOG: It's been on my mind for a while, but I'll be working on putting up a Links page that lists some of my favorite blogs and websites. I've just been too lazy to do it before now.

    Also, this is a little random, but my past couple of 30 for 30 outfit photos have been taken indoors, and I noticed that the photos are quite dark compared to my other photos. It's because I took them in the afternoon, when the sun has moved to the other side of the house. I guess I'll take photos in the morning, or move the other side of the house when I have to wait till the afternoon.

xo, Gladys

Thursday, January 19, 2012

14 of 30: Mosaic and Wolves

Yes, I seriously am STILL working on my 30 for 30. I know, I know, it's been three months now. At this point, I'm wondering over how many months I can stretch my 30 days. It should be interesting.

Dress: Patagonia | Tee: GAP | Micro-fleece tights: Tabbisocks via Sockdreams | Booties: Blowfish "Hichi" via Amazon

I wore this dress as part of outfit #6 back in October, but here's my winter take. (And one of these days I'm going to take in the shoulder straps; they really are too long for me.) I layered the dress over a comfy long-sleeved tee and a pair of very warm micro-fleece tights. The tights are so warm that they feel like pants. I love them a lot.

I also wanted to show you the tote bag that I've been using as my everyday purse since the beginning of the year. Wolves and raspberry vines. Adorable! I like big totes but mine usually don't have such a cute print on them. The tote is quite sturdy so far and is big enough to carry anything a mom of a preschooler would need. Plus it's got three pockets (two inside and one outside) that allows me to keep the little items from getting lost at the bottom. I got this on sale from ModCloth in December but it is no longer available. (It's a Kate Sheridan bag.) However, ModCloth has got another 70% off sale going on! If you've got some Xmas or other holiday money burning your pocket, that might be a good place to get some adorable stuff. :-)

xo, Gladys

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Project: Sewing Dresses

Part of the reason I was so busy last week was that I was sewing up a storm for my Holiday Challenge. That doesn't mean that I managed to sew lots of things, but I sewed a lot. If I wasn't so slow I would have much more to show for all the hours I put in. However, I'm pretty happy with how the projects turned out. The patterns I used were from One-Yard Wonders.

This looks like a bikini top, but it's actually the halter top for the dress I made for my younger sister, before I attached the skirt part.

The thing about making dresses is that it's hard to do fittings when you're using a pattern. Like me, my sister is petite, but the pattern I used was most likely based on a taller person. So while I had taken all the suggested measurements -- bust, underbust, and waist -- the pattern was still too tall on the bodice part. That then made sizing the underbust (with the tricky gathers and elastic) difficult. I had to redo the elastic after my sister first tried it on. I think the finished product is still too big for her, but I suppose she can wear it as a beach coverup come summer. (She also travels quite a bit, so she may be able to use sooner it if she travels south of the equator during the first part of the new year.) One of my goals this new year is to learn more about editing patterns, especially for petite sizing.

This second dress project was more successful because it was more forgiving, given that it was for a toddler. Kids' clothes usually don't need to be fitted. For my friend's daughter's third birthday (she's a NYE baby), I decided to make a pinafore. This was my first time making lining, and it was a lot easier than I thought. The directions for this pattern worked very well for an intermediate-beginner like myself. The only iffy part was turning the finished bodice inside-out by pulling the fabric through the very narrow shoulder straps (what helped: using a large knitting needle to push the fabric through the "tunnels"). I wasn't sure if I was going to add the button, but I couldn't resist the heart shape; too bad I only had the one. It took me a whole day, in between eating and taking care of the kiddo, to make the dress. I'm quite proud of this one. I washed and pressed it, and we gave it to the birthday girl over the weekend. While she didn't particularly care for it aside from the ballerinas on the print (do little kids ever care about clothes as presents?), her mom, one of my favorite people, loved it. Just as I anticipated. :-) I'm actually looking forward to making this same pattern for another little girl.

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Birdies and Blowfish Shoes

Quick outfit post today.

Dress: Peppermint via Modcloth | Tights: Worthington via Kohl's (??) | Booties: Blowfish "Wycliff" (giveaway prize)

Here I am wearing my new Blowfish booties. They're as comfy and easy to wear as my other pair of Blowfish booties (the "Hichi"). The best thing about Blowfish shoes/booties is how easy-breezy it is to get in and out of them, particularly when you're running late and need to get out of the house in a hurry!

I wore this ensemble to lunch on Boxing Day (day after Xmas) with some dear old friends from college. Anyway, this is one of those outfits that felt cuter than it looked, at least in the photos. (I need to improve my darn posture!) I got a couple of compliments on the dress. I personally love the birds and the lace trim. In any case, I figure that since I felt happy wearing the outfit, that's what matters most, right? :-)

xo, Gladys

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NYE 2011

Owl jumper: Ezra via Modcloth | Top/tunic: Sugarhill Boutique via Modcloth | Tights: Foot Traffic via Sockdreams | Booties: Blowfish "Wycliff" via giveaway | Owl necklace: Alilang via Amazon (gift from the hubby) | Lion bracelet: "Orchid Grey" via Modcloth

I was really happy with my New Year's Eve outfit. I bought both the owl jumper and the tunic on sale, one in mid-December and the other way back in October. The jumper was a little large so I almost returned it, but the owls were too adorable. (Can you blame me?) As for the top, it's made by one of my favorite (fair-trade) brands, Sugarhill Boutique, so while it wasn't my usual style, I knew that it would be great quality. As with my Christmas outfit, I had bought the clothes not thinking at all about the holidays. But given the sequins, the jumper turned out to be perfect for NYE, and I couldn't wait to show off the owls. I still can't believe how well the two pieces went together; they are basically the same length, and since the jumper is so thin (as is the tunic, which is lined yet still slightly sheer), the bottom of the tunic acted as a slip. I would totally wear this outfit again to a party in 2012, but next time I would wear black tights and leave the color (purple, orange, and/or blue) to the pumps, flats, or mary janes for a more unified and softer look.

xo, Gladys

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas 2011

Hi all! Happy New Year! I'm back online from the "holidaze." I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve as well. My hubby was off from work all last week, plus we had lots of gatherings with family and friends (including a day trip to Disneyland/California Adventure), so I simply didn't have time to get online to post photos.

So...more posts coming this week! I want to show you what I wore for New Year's Eve and some of the other events we attended. I also want to show-and-tell my latest completed (i.e. successful) sewing projects. :-)

Dress: Tulle via Modcloth | Cardi: Softie (100% cashmere for the ridiculous price of ~$30) via Amazon | Tights: Foot Traffic via Sockdreams

This was my outfit on Christmas day when we had our family over for luncheon (and beyond). I loved wearing this outfit and I think it was very Christmas-y, with all the red, green, and cream. The bottom hem full of impressionistic roses was a lovely touch. Funny thing, I bought the dress in early fall during Modcloth's clearance sale. I didn't realize it would work beautifully as a Christmas dress. I'm so glad I decided to keep it even though several months passed before I wore it.

Anyway, we had a really great time on Christmas day, from the start of the day to the end, with the kiddo opening presents from "Santa" in the morning and then opening everyone else's presents after lunch. He was sooooo excited. In the morning, when he was opening his gifts, I could feel him shaking with excitement. Trembling with it. The rest of his day went much the same way. His grandmother (my mom) and I could barely get him to sit down and eat anything (except cookies, surprise surprise). My favorite presents? A BabyGAP toggle coat for the kiddo, and a lovely ruffled confection of an apron for me. (It's so pretty, it looks like a dress.)

I'll end this post with a few photos leading up to the big day. 1&2}decorating and salivating over the Christmas cookies that my hubby made. 3}the kiddo-bandido stole his dad's glasses and wore them upside down, looking surprisingly handsome.

xo, Gladys
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