Monday, September 27, 2010

suits to bear rings

For the past two weeks, I've been working on these suits for two handsome gentlemen.  The hub's sister was married this past weekend and both my boys were asked to be ring bearers.  Suits (and especially tuxedos) for rent are very expensive and you don't even get to keep them.  So I decided to make each boy the appropriate attire.

I started with the vests.  I used Simplicity 7030 and cut the size 4 for my 4-year-old.  I've cut size 4 pants for him and they were always too big, so I figured a size 4 vest would work well.  I was wrong.  I even added 1 inch to the length, but the vest was still too small for my liking.  Luckily I had a smaller client that could fit right into it.  So for my 4-year-old, I added a half inch total to the width and 3 or 4 inches to the length.  Nearly perfect!  The vest overlapped the top of his pants which was a perfect length . . . but I probably didn't need to add width.

The black pants were refashioned from adult-sized pants.  I used this tutorial from This Mama Makes Stuff, but I didn't do the skinny part.  Well, I didn't mean to do the skinny part.  I used a size 4 pattern for the bigger pants.  I even slimmed it down a little but they still ended up too big.  I used some 2T pants as my pattern for the little guy's pants, but I slimmed them down a little too much.  They fit, but I could I tell they looked a little "skinny."  But since that look is back (sigh), I could get away with it.  I guess I will just have to get better at using ready-made clothes as patterns.

The bow tie is my favorite.  I used this tutorial from Make It and Love It to refashion a men's necktie into a bow tie.  Only I used 1 adult tie to make two smaller kids' ties.  I love them!  I think a bow tie was the right way to go.  Fun, yet still serious.

All in all, I think it was definitely worth the two weeks of work that I put into these suits.  I don't know what I will do with the vests, but the pants and perhaps the bow ties can be used again.  And I learned quite a bit through this process, and that's what it's all about for me.  Well that, and being able to show off my two little bugs in great handmade, one(or two)-of-a-kind clothes.

I purchased the white shirts.
I apologize for the terrible photo quality.  Everything happened so quickly that I didn't have time to have the boys pose outside for blog-worthy photos.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a handmade lunch bag {for the first-time preschooler)

My four-and-a-half-year-old will be attending preschool for the first time this week.  I'm not worried about him at all.  He is mr. social and feeds off interaction with other kids.  We enrolled him in a preschool for two , four-hour days a week and he has to bring a lunch.  After clarifying that peanut butter is an acceptable food this year as no child enrolled has a peanut allergy (whew...he'd rather starve than eat turkey, ham, or bolonga), the hub and I got to talking about backpacks and lunch boxes.  I fully intended to buy him a lunch box but the hub suggested to Logan that I make one.  Nothing beats a hub-prompted project because I get to spend all kinds of time working on it with no questions about what I'm up to.

A few days later, Logan and I set out for the fabric store in search of fabric with school buses (his choice).  After what seemed like hours to him (but was in fact about 4 minutes) to no avail, we (I) came across this fabric.  It's so colorful.  I love it!!  I was afraid it was too girly but gave him the choice.  He loved it.  Yes!  I knew it would make a cute lunch bag and I began pondering what to do with the rest of the yard.
Of course, there are a bunch of ways that I could have made this.  A very simple rectangular bag with a velcro closure would have been a quick way to go.  But I am neither simple nor quick, so I chose just about the toughest design I could think of.  I used a very thick stablizer as interfacing to give the bag extra support.  This extra thickness definitely made the bag much harder to handle.  I used a similar design for this overnight/gym bag and it wasn't nearly as difficult to put together (although I've learned a little about stablizing bags since that project).

And, by request, I added a pocket for I'm not sure what.  Napkins?  Bugs maybe?  The client requested it so I delievered.

For the lining, I was going to go with cotton.  But then I ran across a placemat that we bought for Logan a few years ago.  It never really gets used, so I decided to repurpose it.  It's made of a fabric that wipes cleaner than cotton ever would.  I also decided to use it for the bottom since I know that might get pretty dirty (and because I couldn't decide which way the bottom fabric should face).

I hope the opening doesn't end up too small.  I only had 7 inch zippers.  I added a little extra fabric to the end of each zipper to make the bag longer, but the opening barely fits a mini bag of chips.  I shouldn't have a problem getting the food in there, but it might be a task to get it out . . . especially for a little boy who will probably only eat what he can easily pull from the bag like fruit snacks and a juice box.  Logan picked out the green zipper to match the fabric, so at the very least, the zipper looks fabulous.

I also equipped the lunch bag with a removable strap.  I originally had no other reason to do this other than my desire to use my new snaps.  But then I started thinking about where to put his name on the bag.  Writing directly on the fabric is not an option (way too much work went into that thing to deface it with permanent marker), but I'm okay with writing on the strap.  Plus, if the bag holds up long enough for my next son (or me) to reuse it, I can just change the strap with a new name.  Sometimes I shock myself with my genius ideas.

So here we are . . . the first day of preschool with the new lunch bag.  If nothing else, it comforts me to know that he has a part of me with him on his new venture (and that no one else will have the same lunch bag).  Have a great time, little man!  I know you will.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

a new (super simple) knit shirt

One of my goals at the beginning of the summer was to make myself a couple of knit shirts.  After my last in-store purchase, I decided that I don't like buying knit shirts from the store for 2 reasons:
  • I don't like spending more than $15 for a shirt and that can't buy me high quality goods.  They wear out too fast.  I have a few clothing staples that I have had for 10-15 years (they cost me much more than $15 back then but I was single and childless and had no better reason on which to spend).  I wish $15 could buy me that.
  • I can't stand being the same as someone else.  It drives me crazy to see someone else wearing my shirt (yes, even if I don't have it on).  So really the only way for me to even have a shot at 100% uniqueness is to design and create my own.
So this shirt is my first shot at a real knit shirt.  Well, I guess I shouldn't call it real shirt because it was ridiculously simple.  Fashion designers would laugh at the simplicity but busy moms will delight in it.  No need for full blown tutorial when there are only 4 steps:
  1. Cut out two pieces of the fabric using the back of another shirt as a pattern.  Build the straps into the pattern.
  2. Cut out the desired neckline from the front piece.  I chose a v-neck for this one.
  3. Serge the sides of the front and back pieces together up to the sleeve holes.
  4. Try on and tie the straps.
I told you it was simple.  I didn't even hem the bottom or sew the "sleeves" or neckline.  This light knit rolls well and I like that look.  Although if I had the patience, I could have sewn around the neckline for a cleaner look.  And I can't believe how well I did matching these stripes on the sides!  I've been waiting for that talent to arrive.

So here I have my first summer knit shirt built completely from scratch just in time for summer fall.  And although it's a little casual, with the right cardigan, it will make a great addition to my desparately-needs-upgrading wardrobe for the new job.