Monday, February 27, 2012

SYTYC Week 5: Chevron Twirl Dress

The theme this week was to use the six colors of the rainbow.  This was a challenge for me.
The first time I read the list of the competition, this was the week I knew would push my creativity the most.  Thinking of something with all those colors together wasn't something I'd really ever gravitate to naturally, so it really forced me to get a lot of different ideas for something I was excited about, and I ended up making a little girl's dress.

A simple dress with a dropped waist, chevron bodice, circle skirt, cap sleeves all pieced together with the colors of the rainbow.

 Starting from the top, the bodice is a chevron design, pieced together from 1.5" wide strips.  They meet at the center front and back seams, along with the side seams so as you twirl, the body is a zig-zag pattern.  This was actually really fun to sew.

To get in and out there's a back zip, which is again where the chevron pattern meets together.
I tried to chose more muted colors, going with cranberry rather than cherry red and mustard rather than banana yellow, etc and also using gray rather than white for my neutral.  But in the end, all these colors together are still pretty vibrant!

The model is my little neighbor, she's three.

The little cap sleeves don't have any seams at the shoulder, as I thought it would interrupt the chevron pattern.   I just gathered a little along the outer edge and finished with the gray binding. 

 The circle skirt has all the layers of each color.
I made my own bias tape in each color, and varied the thickness as it worked its way up the skirt.
Each color gets thinner and closer together.

This little dress was really fun to sew.  The overall silhouette is really simple--basic bodice, cap sleeve and circle skirt, allowing all the colors to really take center stage.
A few friends that have seen this dress thought with the green socks and ribbons, this could be a perfect St. Patrick's Day dress, just get a pot of gold for the sweet spot at the end of the rainbow. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crate Tutorial: Rustic & Herringbone

Here's the mini-tutorials of what I did to make my other two crates.
Here's the original post with details of how and where I'm using these in my home.


First off, the reclaimed wood.
My neighbor replaced their fence and let me grab a wheelbarrow of the better pieces.
Our water is so high in minerals, many have white deposits from the sprinklers that almost make them look white washed.  Pretty cool on wood, not so tasty in our glass.

To build the crate using these wood scraps, I first connected between the two end planks cut 1x2 firring strips.  I screwed them to the end planks using a kreg jig to make pocket holes which are on the bottom of the crate.  You could also screw/ nail through the outside of the planks.  There is 1/4" space between my bottom strips, the width of a carpenter's pencil.
Next I glued and screwed the 2x2 hunks on top of the bottom.  This is what supports the planks on all sides.  I just used a brad nail gun to secure all the planks around the crate with 1/4" between them.
I also added a divider in the center out of a pine scrap.  This connected to the bottom with kreg pocket holes and the sides I just used the nail gun again from the outside.

For the finish and hardware...
I sanded the planks lightly, as they'd developed the weathered fur from the elements.  They were already whitened by the minerals and all looked gray and dingy.  So I decided I'd use a little Minwax mahogany wood stain to warm them up a bit.  You don't want much stain at all.  In a rag I barely had any stain and just dry rubbed it over the wood, to just lightly darken the raised grain.  You basically want to apply the stain dry so you have zero run or liquid seeping into the cracks, just a titch to warm the highest level.  You can obviously rub more or less to get the effect you want.

After removing any excess stain and letting it dry, I used 2 coats polyurathane to seal the wood on the outside.  I left all the wood on the interior raw and natural out of laziness.

For the hardware, these 4 casters were black rubber wheels that rotate, and screw on.
So to get rid of the modern silver hardware, I used masking tape around the rubber wheel (just in case the paint might rub off on my floors later) and used spray paint primer, then Oil Rubbed Bronze to paint the hardware of the wheels.

I also used the same for the "corner braces" which were actually just cheap shelf "L" supports I spray painted.

 Next, the modern HERRINGBONE.
This was probably my favorite. 

I built this box from MDF.  It's a pressed board that is perfectly smooth and doesn't have knots or warp like pine or something.  
So I painted the inside and outside the lighter blue which was leftover from my kitchen, Glidden Gentle Tide.
To make the herringbone pattern, I was a genius!

Rather than drawing it all out with pencil that needs to be erased or trying to get it precise with tape,  I just scored into the base coat of paint with an open paperclip.  This made an easy to follow score line, that was subtle and actually helped the paint stay in the lines as it created a trough.
I used a paper clip and my quilting ruler to score the herringbone.
1.  Divide the wider side of crate into 5 equal sections and score the vertical lines first.
2. Between the vertical lines, I started at the bottom and scored 60 degree angles across the bottom of the crate.  I just worked my way up spacing the rows 1" apart.
Luckily for me, the pattern worked out perfectly wrapping all around the crate without breaking the altering colors in the zig zag.  I started at one corner and worked my way all around the crate, just using a small brush and painting in all the darker trapezoids by hand.
To finish I applied 2 coats of polyurethane and attached the bar handles.
I thought the herringbone was such a cool pattern and was easy to apply.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tutorial: Animal Clutter Crate

Here’s the tutorial for the crates!
First off is a full tutorial for the animal crate.

wood for crate
4 casters (I used 1 1/2” rubber)
drawer pulls for handles
freezer or contact paper for stencils
wood stain or Rit dye in color choice
paint for inside
polyurethane to seal

1. Build Crate 
Determine how large you want your crate. Mine is 11.75” high, 13” wide, and 17” long.
For this crate I was using pine 1x12 boards, and had a scrap of melamine coated MDF for the bottom. To construct my crate
, I have a Kreg Jig I used to create pocket holes and so you can screw the sides together from the inside. You could also build your crate with nails.
Or if you could always buy or find a crate already made. I've read many times liquor stores will give or sell the empty wine crates.

Depending on the casters you’re using, you may need to add additional corner support to house the caster peg. This crate I added these 2x2 hunks in the corner, because these white casters had a peg you nailed up into the crate like you see on rolling bed frames.

 The other rustic crate wheels just screwed right on the bottom of the crate and didn’t need these additional supports.

2. Prepare Wood
Once your crate is built you’ll want to fill any hole’s screws with wood filler, let it dry, then sand down the wood to a smooth, even finish.

3. Paint Crate Interior
I used left over satin paint to give the inside of my crate 2 coats.

4. Apply Stencils
I just hand sketched my animal silhouettes, and you can print my animals HERE.
So print, trace and cut out your animal or whatever shape you’d like to use in the freezer or contact paper.
**I tried both and they seemed to work the same. If you use freezer paper you’ll need to iron the paper to your wood***
On a clean side, arrange and secure stencils to crate, making sure any bubbles have been scraped out and edges are sealed well.

6. Dye Stain Wood 
To stain a crate this size, I would mix 1/4c. super hot water and 1/4 c. straight liquid Rit dye. I microwaved my water and added the dye, stirring to fully dissolve.
**It helps to first paint a thin layer of water to prep the wood to get more even distribution of dye stain.
Using a sponge brush, dip in the dye and squeeze out any excess dye. Paint on 3 plain sides of crate, being careful not to have too much dye in the brush because you don’t want the dye to drip and run, as it shows in the end result. When you get to the side of the crate with your stencils, you really want to use a dry brush. If you have a full, soggy brush the dye stain will seep under the paper and you won’t have a nice, crisp border on your shapes. So squeeze out the dye, and work in small areas to carefully apply the dye around the paper, doing your best to not let it seep under.

My crate was 2 coats of straight Teal dye. also has recipes to mix their dye to get different colors not found on the shelf.

7. Sand and Finish
I wanted to lightly sand the box to reveal a little more wood grain.
LEAVE PAPER OVER STENCILS UNTIL SANDING IS DONE. I found when I sanded the light layer off, the new dyed saw dust would still stain the raw wood animals. So I had to go back through and lightly “clean” out the animals by sanding off the saw dust smears. So I would recommended not peeling the paper off until right before you’re ready to apply your polyurethane. I used 2 coats of polyurethane to protect and seal the crate.
You can also at this point add your casters according to package directions, and screw your drawer pulls on the ends for handles.

Then you can load up your crate with toys, books or even the baby.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Table Saw

I'm trying to catch up...and I'm so excited to tell you about my Christmas gift!
I've been sewing so much lately, it's been fun to get back into some wood working.

My husband and I are kind of lame with gift giving, and I guess it's not that big of a deal as neither of us are good at giving amazing, thoughtful gifts, and receiving gifts is neither of our love languages.
So, it was about 2 weeks before Christmas and I knew Rhett hadn't got me anything and probably hadn't thought of anything, so I showed him a Sear's ad and said: "this table saw is what I want for Christmas.  Will you come with me to help me load it in the car?"
We went and looking at the model in the store Rhett thought it looked pretty junky, but I knew it was the lowest price I'd ever get a basic table saw, and Craftsman brand is pretty reliable from what I'd read. I also don't make that much stuff, so it was my Christmas gift and I was thrilled!

So I got my much anticipated table saw which is already opening up so many options to build things that just weren't possible before.

This first little project was from scraps.  I bought a huge 4'x8' sheet of 1/4" thick MDF that's coated with white melamine on one side that I've been using as a background for photoshoots.  It's been great as it's thick enough to be strong and support itself, but thin enough it's still light to carry around the house. 

But being 8' long was just too hard to store.  So I cut off 1.5' on one end and used the scraps to make a little photo box.  I used the table saw to cut the scrap into three sections then duct taped the corners so it can stand on its own, but still fold flat for storage. 

To take photos of small things, mainly steps of sewing tutorials, I just prop the sides on a white foam board from the dollar store.  The light is a thrift store lamp, and I just bought a "craft" lightbulb from Home Depot which is a little pricey $8.00 but it has clean light so I can work and photograph at night and don't have to depend on natural light for good photos.

So get excited for some awesome wood working projects coming soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

SYTYC Week 4: Pea Coat


This week the challenge is "For You".
I chose to finally get the guts to make myself a classic, black, pea coat using wool I've been saving for years.

I have orangutan arms.  I've mentioned this before.
Remember this sad photo of me in my tween years where my arms literally are pretty much down to my knees?

Well some proportions improved and evened out, but unfortunately my arms are too long and sleeves are always too short.  Not just a tad, embarrassingly Frankenstein too short.  Having orangutan arms really motivates me to sew for myself.
Fall 2010: yellow coat, red hooded jacket, Equestrian blazer
Fall 2011: corduroy blazer, Larkrise blazer, Moscow coat

I've been wearing a generic black pea coat.  My little sister even took out the sleeves as much as she could to help the arm situation.  They're still way too short.
So here's my old coat.

Sad.  That awful length that isn't long enough, but not short enough to be a cropped/ three-quarter sleeve.
The Frankenstein sleeve zone.
But now, the sleeves are long enough in my new pea coat!!

I have to admit, sewing my coat myself I'm always tempted to make the sleeves way too long, just because I can.  I tried to get these the correct length, keeping it above my wrist.

But the black wool.  Wool is expensive.  Even buying mine with a 50% off coupon it was over $10/ yard.  So I was always weary to cut into this fabric, thus it's sat on my shelf for 3 years.
So with the challenge to make something for myself, and having a little more confidence having been practicing jackets, blazers and coats the last two years, I got up the courage to give it a try.
I used McCalls 5525 as a base and altered it from there.

I decided to switch up the collar from the usual lapels of a double breasted pea coat.
The rounded collar may not be for everyone, but I thought it was unique and feminine.  A subtle detail that makes this coat a little different.
You can also see the leather braided buttons.  I love these things.  Whenever they have buttons 50% off, I usually buy a handful of leather buttons.  I've had these 1" black ones for a while, and was glad I finally had the perfect project for them.

The back of the coat has a center seam, and the princess seams to help give it a more feminine shape. 

Now lets talk about the inside of the coat.
I lined the coat in anti-pill blue fleece.  
I actually made a size larger than I usually do, knowing the fleece lining would make it really thick.  But this thing is warm!  With a full layer of both the wool and fleece, this thing keeps me as warm as a snow parka, but still in a nicer style to dress up, or most times I'm just in jeans and a t-shirt running errands.  

wearing my Artichoke Dress, Target tights and Guess oxfords (clearance at

Just like my usual timing, I'm making this awesome, warm, extra long sleeved coat right when I won't need it, just like fall 2010 when I was pregnant and made those 3 jackets that couldn't even fit around my belly.
But at least it finally got sewn and will be waiting for me next winter!

It's sad, but the photo below is the best full body shot, ignore the weird face.  
I cut off my head, but it just looked even worse-- if possible.  
My husband hates taking posed pictures of me wearing my projects almost as much as I hate modeling for them, so what you see is what you get!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baby Swim Suit

Recently we needed a swim suit for baby Ellie.  Rather than go to the store, I decided I could just hurry and make one.
 I had some left over swim spandex from my halter takini I made a few years ago, and some pink to add some contrasting trim.
I made the bottoms a pink panty with a circle skirt on top.  I thought a skirt would be girly and cute, but also have a little extra sun coverage.
I just hacked it out, which required taking in the legs and butt a second time.  But I remembered Dana has a great tutorial on how to cut a circle skirt, and a diaper cover.  You could  use her tutorials to make each piece, then join them with a waistband.  **I would recommend NOT adding the 2 inches to the waist measurement, as this skirt will stretch.
 The top is all about sun coverage and making it easier for me, as I have less skin to slab with sun screen.
To make the top I just used a tee shirt and cut it without seam allowances so it would fit a little snug.  You can see there are cap sleeves, but they're just cut in one piece without a shoulder seam.

To make it even easier, the hem on the skirt, sleeves, and shirt bottom aren't folded and sewn.  I just loaded lime thread on the serger and serged the edges.  

 Makes for a cute little pink bum poking out of the little skirt.

For the leg elastic, I sew the ends together to make a circle of the elastic.  I serge the elastic to the fabric edge, cutting off the excess of the pink, but making sure not to cut the elastic with the serger.  *Make sure you're stretching the elastic as you sew it evenly around the leg opening.  Then it makes it easy to roll over.  To top-stitch the leg, you can zig-zag like I've done, or if you have a double needle you can make a nice finish that way too.

Overall an easy, quick, high sun-protection swim suit.

 We first needed a swim suit a two weeks ago.  We went to Lava Hot Springs for the weekend and were able to swim outdoors in February.

Below you can better see all the steam coming off the pool, which is fed by a natural hot spring.  Some were really hot, but one was big enough it was just like a warm bath for the kids.

We got to use it again a week later when my husband had to work out of state and we were able to visit him in the hotel.   I thought her little belly hanging out was cute.


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