Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fun With My Serger - Knit Shirt, Refashioned Sweater, and Rasta Sweater Dress

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been having a great time playing with my new serger machine.  I pulled out anything knit or stretch I could find that needed sewing and ran it through.  I still can't get over how much faster I can put a garment together on that versus the regular machine. 

This shirt below is the last of the vintage fabrics I had originally cut up and designated to patterns.  Originally, this was supposed to be a button up shirt for my son, but I don't think he really liked it all that much.  I had some issues with this piece.  I had cut it so long ago and I believe (like many of the other pieces I cut from the vintage fabric way back then) I did a very hasty and sloppy job.  The pieces were a bit uneven and the collar was a little small .... I didn't let it stop me, though.  I just tweaked the design a little and turned it into a funky button up top for me instead.  Where I really went wrong was adding the pockets.  They are off symmetry or something.  As soon as I added the second one I wasn't loving the shirt anymore.  Anyway, it's finished and it felt great to complete all the garments I had cut for myself to sew.  They aren't all the best pieces, but the more I practice, the better they get.  Can't beat having free fabric to practice with.

Here is the pattern I used.  I had originally cut it for pattern A in the boys size.

Here's what I ended up with.

Eh.  It's ok.  I'll wear it, but it's definitely not a "wow" piece.  I keep trying to mess around with the collar and press it differently to make the shirt look more even.  

I also had an old hoodie sweater I just couldn't part with even though I never wear it.  I figured I'd try a refashion of it and see if I could make into something I will wear again.

Here is the sweater before.  This is me, post baby, eight years ago.  This was my first time going out for a drink after having Bayne.  I think he was about 3 months old.  I was going to suck it up and give him formula for the first time, too.  Pump and dump! :)  Cheers ... lol!

Obviously this sweater has been around a while.

Here it is now as more of a fitted 80's sweater vest.  I cut off the hood and the sleeves and just left it raw.  I had to undo the bottom band, took in the sides, then re-attached the band after altering to fit the sized down sweater.  I'm digging it.  We will see if it gets more time out of the drawer.

I had some left over knit sweater fabric from the rasta shirt I made.  I decided to make a rasta tube dress, mainly just to use as a practice piece for the serger.  I didn't use a pattern, just threw it together.   I don't know if it will get a ton of wear, but it was a good piece to use as practice.  I suppose if a reggae show comes to town this will be a great dress to wear.  Leggings are a must, though.  It ended up being very short.

I don't know ... do you think it's wearable?  Cute, silly?  I'm on the fence.  It is very comfy, I will say that.  My little girl seems to like snuggling me while I'm in it :). 

I have one more refashion waiting for the serger and sewing machine.  I am hoping I can whip through most of it tomorrow morning.  

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PJ's for my Posse

It's "Ski Week" here in Manhattan Beach, which for me translates to "Sew Week".  You won't find me complaining about getting an extra week off from school between Winter Break and Spring Break.  Time off is always good, if you ask me.  I'm not sure how it's possible, but I get far more sewing done when the kids are home, then when they are in school.  I guess vacation for me is just an excuse to laze around, enjoy our home, all the things in it, and let the creative juices flow uninterrupted.

I have a ton of stuff I've been wanting to run through my new serger machine.  I pulled it out the other day and started going to town.  I've lost some weight, so some of my yoga pants and leggings are a bit stretched out.  At this point, it would make more sense to buy new ones, but I figure it will be a fun experiment with my new serger to see if I can take them in, get some more life out of them, and save some $$.  I'm wearing a pair right now and they feel nice and snug, not slouchy and saggy, like they were prior to taking them in.  I took in two pairs.  I ran both the inner leg seam and the crotch through, taking off about an inch.  Man, this machine rocks.  Not only does it handle stretch fabrics perfectly - no bunching or ripples - but it cuts the fabric and finishes everything so clean and professional looking.  On my regular machines I could never have done this so quickly or clean.  I had two other knit skirts that were slightly off or warped from attempting to sew them on my regular machine.  I quickly whipped them through the serger and - ZAP!  Better than new.  :)  I also fixed a pair of leggings with lace trim that had stretched out on the bottom.  It handled the lace with ease.  I haven't even figured out how to use all the settings.  I've just been using the one it came set up on - the four thread system.  I can't wait to learn all the bells and whistles on this thing now that I am less intimidated by the threading process.

One of the projects I had on my list was to make some new PJ's for the kids.  Grammy gave us this cool dinosaur print she found at the thrift store.  (She gave me some great Coca-Cola print recently, too, that I made into PJ pants for a Christmas gift - picture to come.)  I also had some black fleece that has been laying around forever.  I figured the two would look really good together.  

I used this pattern below.  I have only made the pants from this pattern up until now.  I used pattern B for the PJ top.

This is a great pattern, especially for the pants.  The top came out a little big, but I did use fleece instead of jersey, so that might have a little something to do with it.  Either way, for PJ's it makes little difference.  It's super soft and cozy and that is all that matters to my kids.  They love fleece.

Here is how they came out:



I love matching PJ's on my kids for some reason. :)

I have discovered that I love making PJ's for them, as well.  Mainly because it is the one thing I make that they always love and never complain about wearing.  They love my appliqué shirts, too, but anything else is a questionable as to whether or not they will wear it out of the house.  Sad, but true.  That's ok, though.  I have tons of random, weird print fabric laying around that I always wonder what in the world I would make out of it and now I know.  PJ's.  

Here are some of the other PJ's that I made using this pattern.  The adult ones are from another pattern.

Matching Coca-Cola PJ's I made as a Christmas gift for myself, my Mom, and the kids.

Aubrey sporting hers.  I didn't make the top, but gave her a hand-me-down shirt of Bayne's (shhhhh!).

I still haven't gotten a picture of Bayne in his, but he wears these cool, multi-color striped, hippie pants I made him as PJ's.  I thought they would be cool as actual day wear pants, so I used the same pattern, but added a pocket to them in the front and on the sides.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, they don't always like what I make, so we just made them PJ's and miraculously they get tons of wear now. 

Here they are playing Wii together in their comfy, handmade PJ's, from fabric that was gifted to me. 

It's the simple things in life like this that make me smile.  It's almost like they are wearing my love ... a little portable hug that wraps around them when they sleep and play.

I hope they are sleeping sweetly in their new dino pj's right now.  Wrapped in Mama's love.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, February 7th - 14th, 2013

My beautiful daughter, Aubrey, was born with a very serious Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).  A little over six years ago I had no clue what CHD was or how greatly it would impact my life.  Here she is on her first day of life.  Without all these machines to keep her alive and the surgical intervention that followed, she would not be here today.

Aubrey is almost six years old now, she is in Kindergarden, she loves hip hop dancing, she plays piano beautifully, she is passionate, loving, and has a smile that can light up a room.  

This beautiful little girl is here today because of medical intervention, because of countless hours of research and study, because of the dedication of the surgeons and pediatric cardiologists who have devoted their life to helping save little hearts like Aubrey's.

This is Aubrey's first year in school.  It has been a bit of a struggle.  It is obvious that she is a little different than her peers.  She has trouble keeping up with the rest of her class, not only on the playground, but with school work.  She is very sensitive and emotional.  The good news is she enjoys her time there, but I can see the next few years will be interesting as her school hours and class work increase.  

I wanted to do something for her class this year to raise awareness, not only because I believe in the cause and I am proud of my CHD Warrior, but because I feel it is important for her peers and their parents to be aware of what she faces in her life and how far she has come, so they have a greater understanding of her situation.  Her classmates will be with her for years to come and will be her network of support as she grows and faces more challenges in the future.  My feeling is  ...knowledge is power. 

Here is what I put together to hand out to her class for CHD Awareness Week.

A closer look to spare your eyes :)

I made 30 of these cute little red and blue CHD Awareness ribbon key chains to pass out to her peers, teachers, principal, and nurse.  Kids these days love to have as many keychains as they can on their backpacks, so I thought this might be better and more gender neutral than a bracelet.  We folded them all up and stuck them in envelopes addressed "To the Family of : whomever".

Let it be known, that this took FOREVER!

 As luck would have it, they were having "Community Day" in Aubrey's classroom today.  All the kids get to have a job and be workers in the community (classroom).  A super fun day full of dress up, props, pretend, and play!  Aubrey got the job of Mail Lady.  Perfect opportunity for me to deliver our message to her classmates.

Here she is all dressed up and ready to report for mail duty.

All set up at her post office, ready to stamp letters and mail them out.

Delivering her "Special Heart" letters for her friends to take home.

Seriously, how cute is she?!

I love that she is so proud of her special heart.  I can't even begin to express how proud I am of her.  She amazes me every day.  While I would not have chose this fate for her or I, I have accepted it.  I am even grateful for it at times.  I would give anything for her to never undergo another open heart surgery or suffer any pain, for that matter.  That is not reality, though.  What is real, is the gift of life that my daughter has been given.  That I have been given.  Something we all take for granted every day.  We all could die tomorrow, but when you are faced with a life threatening illness your perspective changes.  You live with the fear that death can be knocking on your door.  Ignorance is bliss.  That is true to some extent, but what I have found is that I now have a greater appreciation for everything.  My life, my sons, and most definitely Aubrey's.  There are still times when I am sad and I get lost in the worry of what will be, but one look at her reminds me of how none of that really matters.  All that matters is what I am doing right now.  Being the best mother I can be.  Being present.  Being patient.  Being in tune with my intuition.  Being focused, determined, and strong.

I have to admit, I feel a little odd about passing out the CHD awareness information.  I second guessed myself a thousand times.  Is it too much?  Will parents think I'm going overboard?  Will the teachers think I'm insane?  Is it too personal to share?  In the end, I had to go with my instinct, which was to be an advocate for my little Heart Warrior.  Spread awareness.  Knowledge IS power.  The more people understand her the less they will judge her and make assumptions of their own.  The more the teachers, nurse, and principal hear about her condition, the more aware they will be, the less likely her condition will be ignored.  It takes a village ... and we need all the love and support we can get to keep her healthy and well.  

Without awareness, these 1 and 100 babies that will be born each year with some form of CHD will not have a fighting chance at a long healthy life.  Awareness brings funding for research, which leads to a cure.  There is so much hope for these children.  Take one look at that beautiful little girl ... I was told to terminate when she was diagnosed in utero at 21 weeks.  She is now a happy, thriving, nearly six year old little girl.  

There is so much hope.  Please help support CHD by donating to the American Heart Association, Saving Little Hearts, or by becoming a blood and organ donor.   Donating organs and blood saves lives like my daughters.