Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skirting the Issue with an A-Line Skirt

The lovely ladies over at Simple Simon & Co have a wonderful thing they do every year called Skirting the Issue (read more about it here). Basically, they are encouraging us all to make skirts and donate them for girls in foster care who might not get to go clothes shopping for back to school. To do this they are having a month of skirt tutorials over on their blogs. Here is my little addition of how to make a great skirt for a tween or teen.
So I love the easiness of making a simple elastic waistband skirt, but I think girls get to a certain age and want to look a little more grown up and a little less girly. That's why I love the simplicity of an A-Line skirt. All it takes is a simple side zipper (I'm partial to an invisible one...but any would work) and length of fabric needed to reach the right length of your girl.
Here's a quick rundown of how to figure out an A line skirt. Get a low waist line measurement...about an inch below the belly button (since you are adding a waistband) and a hip measurement (the biggest measurement around the hips area) and then I add a couple of inches to each because I don't like my clothes too snug. Take a waist to hip measurement...that would be from your waist line to just where you took the hip measurement. 
Now you are set to "draw" your pattern out on your fabric. 
I'm making one for each of my daughters. The one on the right is cut out according to measurements and the one on the left you can kind of see my marks before cutting...my soluble pen is running out of ink. And I was actually able to get 2 skirts (size 10 and 7 out of a yard of fabric!
Make sure you take your fabric and fold it in half twice (you need the front and back piece). Take your  low waist + 2 inches (blue line) and hip + 2 inches (red line) measurements and 1/2 them (remember your fabric is folded...). Now take the number you now have for your waist and measure and then mark it on the top of your fabric (blue line).  Take your waist to hip measurement (green line) and mark it down from your waist measurement. From the fold take your hip measurement number and mark it at the bottom of your waist to hip line (this becomes the red line).
With me so far?
Now just figure out how long you want your skirt(purple line) and mark that, measuring from your waist. Then all I do is gradually extend the line from the end of your waist measurement line to the hip line and then to the edge of the fabric or however far out you want it to go...for someone smaller you wouldn't go out too far.  This is what becomes the bottom of the skirt so it depends really on how full you want it to be.  I also cut out a 3 inch in width and natural waist measurement + 2 inches in length waistband (all one piece if I can get it out to the fabric).
  Once I get it cut out, I add the zipper to the left side,
 finish off the left side,
 check to make sure the size is about right and then finish off the right side.
 After that I add the waistband and finish it off.
First pin the waist band right side to the wrong side of the top of the skirt, leaving about 2-3 inch over hang off of the front of the skirt (really depends on how big your button is). Sew together.
Then press the band up, and press 3/8ths inch under on the top of the band.  You also want to fold in the ends. For the end that will get the button hole, if you leave a little extra you can fold a little extra under which will make it stronger and so you really don't need interfacing.
You can see in this picture that you don't want the zipper stop all the way at the top of the skirt edge...you need room for a seam allowance.
For the other end you want it flat with the zipper, just fold to enclose the rough edge.
Now you fold down the waistband, making sure to cover the stitching line from before. Pin in place and iron the top of the waistband.
Finish off the skirt by top stitching the entire rectangle of the waist band, adding the button and button hole and hemming to your desired length.
If you want to see the skirts I've made following this principle you look: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE
And for another more "grown up" looking skirt, check out my tutorial HERE

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Loving Where You Live: World Bird Sanctuary St. Louis

So in efforts to explore our new hometown, I thought I'd link up to the 'Love the Place You Live' link-up over at Design Mom. Our first outing in St. Louis was to the World Bird Sanctuary. It's close by and it's FREE!
 Most of their time and effort is spent on rehabilitating birds that have been injured, educating the public and taking care of birds that are too injured to be released back in the wild. They have quite a collection.
Our first stop was their interactive show:
We got to watch this Tawny Owl while we learned some interesting facts about owls...like the fact that owls really can't turn their head all the way around.
It's always fun to see your kids enjoying the show.
 One of the other things they do here is raise Barn owls from eggs to release back into the wild. They happen to be the most endangered of the American owls and are actually very useful. They really are the best mousers around. And did you know, they don't actually 'whoot'? This guy flew around for us and at one point the person doing the show asked us to close our eyes. This owl flew right over our heads and you couldn't even hear it!
 Then we met Mischief, who was being a little shy and didn't want to share what he could say. He's an African White Neck (Banded?) Raven and is super intelligent.
 They have Mischief trained to take the donation, put it in the slot and then give you a magnet. 
 Besides the show, they have the Nature Center with non-avian animals in there as well, a great education center where you can see different kinds of eggs (always fun to compare a humming birds egg to an ostrich egg) and you can peek into their hospital to see who they are taking care of at the moment.
Then you can walk around and see some of their guests:
This guy was some kind of Condor (wish I took notes...) I just liked the way the picture turned out and the look in his eyes. 
 Here the girls are in a replica of an Bald Eagles nest. They return to the same ones every year and just keep adding to them. They can get up to 9 feet wide!
 Then of course there are the photo ops:
 And here are some more birds we saw on the walk:
Peregrine Falcon--They like to nest on cliffs and eat small birds, so cities are actually a good habitat for them. They nest on the skyscrapers and there are plenty of pigeons.
 One of the many injured Bald Eagles
 Our own little Bald Eagle
 A bird my daughter dubbed "Rock star of the chicken world", a Polish Chicken.
 Another photo op:
 And a cute fluffy tawny owl that is very well camouflaged and my daughter wondered which owl in Harry Potter this one could have been.
So if you are ever in St Louis and need another free thing to do (there are so many free things to do here in St. Louis, so this might be low on your list) you should really check out the World Bird Sanctuary...it's worth your time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are you moving?--Organizing Guest Post

Image Map
Howdy Ho...while I'm still unpacking and organizing here at home, I'm over at GYTC sharing some tips to help a move go smoother. Not completely smooth, because there are always some unexpected bumps in the road (like your desk top not wanting to recognize the new wireless connection or the fact that the different schools have people there on different days so that I can't register all the kids on one day...that would be too easy). 

So until I get my sewing room unpacked, which is surprisingly low on the list right now...family sanity is much more important at the moment...here is something to think about and pass on to someone you know that might be moving.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Fun with the Breeze Top Tour

Are you looking for a great summer top that is easy to make and perfect for summer in so many ways? Well the Breeze Top/Tunic just might be the one you are looking for! Shannon of Little Kids Grow has produced another solid pattern that is sure to become a staple for the summer wardrobe.
The top has a simple lined razorback yoke that was surprisingly easy to sew, as Shannon does a great job with instructions and illustrations.
Check out the end of the post for a give-a-way and discount code!
 I was lucky enough to help test this pattern (that's Sophia you see on the 'cover') and now I'm lucky to be a part of the tour. This go around I made two swimsuit cover ups for my girls. But this top is very versatile...it could be made fancy or casual, summery or will be perfect for layering in the fall/winter. Check out my other versions over at Sew Cool for the Tween Scene.
 They are doing swim team this summer and wanted something to throw on while they have to wait for the other to practice.  I used jersey knit for the tops and a light weight terry cloth like fabric (it was from my mom's stash, so who knows how old it is and what it actually is) for the bottom.
 The only thing I changed was that I lengthened the skirt portion by several inches, used the width of the fabric instead of using the suggested measurements and I didn't include the band at the bottom and I added pockets.
 While this pattern seems so basic, it leaves a lot open to add to it to fit your needs. And do you know what, this pattern cuts and goes together really fast!!! I loved that there are only printable pieces for the top portion. And then because the bodice part is lined all of the seams are hidden. I'm telling you it is a fast and efficient pattern that results in the perfect light weight summer top!
 For Clara I cut a size 8 and for Sophia a size 10. Clara's might be a little big (she was on the small size of the chart), but because it is just a cover up it works perfectly. The ruffle you see is from her swimsuit, just so you know.
 Really you should go and check out this pattern for yourself! And while you are at it, go and check out the other people participating on the tour!

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And Shannon is also having a great give-a-way! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Matinee Dress Tour Times Two

I have the wonderful honor to present to you the lovely Matinee Dress brought to you by Jennuine Design.
The pattern itself was a delight to work with...great illustrations and easy to follow instructions...but the finished product is the icing on the cake.  Just look how cute this dress looks! First I started with some amazingly soft Swiss dot in purple, Clara's favorite color. Then I added the lace overlay and velvet yellow ribbon for some contrast.
Then because it's a pattern tour, I had a little fun with the pattern and added a few changes, mostly to fill Clara's wishes for a dress.  The first change I made was to raise the back a little.  My girl's have never liked buttons on their backs, so I figured out a way to make it work without them.  For the sash I used velvet ribbon and just made a little bow that closes with a flat snap.
Here you can see how I altered the back. Just ignore the crazy printed lines...that was purely my fault, because I didn't know what I was doing when I printed out the pattern. Another great thing about the pattern is that you can print out just the size you need. I just forgot to click the button when I went to print and then I didn't want to waste the paper, but printed on the wrong side, which led to some confusion with all of the lines.
Another thing I did was to add a significant amount of fullness to the skirt.  I did this because part of Clara's request was that the dress be nice and twirly, but also because I just wanted to use up the great fabric and I really didn't know what else I would use it for.
One final thing that I did was to add a little fullness to the sleeves so they would be more "fluttery". Here you can see how I did that. I also just used one layer, finishing the edge of the sleeves instead of lining them, because the lace looked so pretty on it's own.
 And there you have my first version of the Matinee Dress.
As for my second version, I wanted to see if I could make it out of knit. I love how this version turned out too and Clara loves how comfortable it is.  And it did work with knit. However, the blue knit has only about 25% stretch (it was some old stuff I got from my mom) and therefore I think that is why it worked...not sure if it would really work with something that had more stretch.  I was also very generous with the seams as well, so I was probably taking in more than 3/8ths of an inch.
For the sleeves and the hem of the skirt I used a lettuce edge hem.  I also only used one layer on the sleeve again, as well as add a little to the width. And again, I raised the back piece as well.
For the sash, I used a ribbon and attached it under the arms with hooks and eyes. I was kind of perplexed on how to attach a ribbon on to the knit and keep the stretch of the knit without distorting it.
This also means the dress can be worn without the sash for a more casual look.
One final thing that I made was a braided head band from 3 strips of knit. I just sewed the ends together after braiding enough to fit her head. Again, another hit...it's nice to get 3 for 3 every once in a while.
Thanks Jenn for letting me be a part of the tour!
Now for all of the fun stuff...here's the list of who is participating on the blog tour:
Displaying Matinee Blog Tour.jpg
And here is who is contributing to the great prize package as part of the give-a-way:
Displaying Matinee Giveaway Collage.jpg
And here is your chance to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: All opinions are purely my own, but I did receive a free copy of the pattern to try it out.

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