Knitting, Sewing, and all Things in Between

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Pink Rose from ReallyHandmade.comIt has been a busy few months here in the Alan house! We have had lots of visitors, made new friends, vacationed at the beach, hiked Mt. Hood, gardened almost every day, and have visited park after park with Emmerich. In between all of that, I have been sewing lots. Along with my pattern editing work, I have (somehow) found time to make new shirts, tank tops and dresses for myself, along with some clothes and a hat for Em. There hasn’t been time to take photos of it all though! Or at least not time to take photos of it when I don’t look like I’ve been run ragged at the end of day. Yeesh!

Double Delight Rose by ReallyHandmade.com

Our yard is bursting with roses and hydrangeas and we are always adding more plants. We have a huge garden plan that will likely take us 5 years to accomplish, but slowly things are changing out there. I’ll take some pictures to share once a large project of removing sod begins sometime this week. These roses will actually be removed, which I’m a little bit sad to see go. They smell heavenly, but were never pruned very well so they have odd shaping and slowly little bits of them are becoming diseased. I’ll plant some lovely new roses elsewhere in the yard. Do you have a favorite type of rose?

One big task that I did accomplish early this summer was going through my sewing patterns. You know that stack of patterns that you have saved for a good 10 years and occasionally you look at them and think, “Whoa, that is super ugly”, but then you pop them right back into your stash? Yeeeaaaah. I gave away a bunch of patterns after posting about this process on Instagram, and I have another bag of them waiting to find a home. I could probably get rid of at least 2 dozen more, but it’s hard to let them go when you maybe might have a use for different pattern features here and there.

Sorting Patterns on ReallyHandmade.com

After going through my patterns, I also dove into my fabric to decide what I wanted to sew this summer. I had not bought new fabric for myself in probably almost a year. At least if I had purchased anything for myself, it amounted to less than 3 yards of fabric. That is unheard of for someone who sews! It was time to remedy the empty space on my stash shelves, and I found beautiful rayons and cottons at Mill End that would do the trick. Looking at this photo, I’m happy to say that only 2 of these fabrics are yet to be cut up and sewn, but they are next on my list.

New Fabrics by ReallyHandmade.com

I did manage to knit up a cozy shawl (it’s called The Lonely Tree on Ravelry), but of course I made a rather big mistake. Oh knitting! I love you, but darn it if I don’t always make some kind of big mistake with anything other than hats. When I finished knitting it, it looked awfully small, but friends told me to block it instead of immediately frogging it.

Unblocked Shawl by ReallyHandmade.comSoaking Knitting by ReallyHandmade.comBlocking a Shawl by ReallyHandmade.com

Blocking helped a lot, but it’s still much smaller than I wanted it to be. I used a lovely bulky alpaca yarn my mom gave me for Christmas a good 2 or 3 years ago, and I thought this would be bigger than it turn out to be. Well, my mistake is that I used way too small of a needle! I somehow misread the directions and for some dumb reason I used 8mm needles instead of 11mm. What was I thinking?!

Blocked Shawl by ReallyHandmade.comLonely Tree Shawl by ReallyHandmade.comLonely Tree Shawl by ReallyHandmade.com

It is super warm thanks to the bulky yarn, but again, it’s nowhere near as large as I wanted it to be. It’s one of those things where I like what I’ve made, but I’ll never use it much or appreciate the work that went into it if I don’t frog it and redo it. Now I have to figure out how to straighten out the yarn once I frog it. I’m so scared of it getting tangled up!

Lonely Tree Shawl by ReallyHandmade.com

I’ll share some sewing creations soon! I am off to finish another dress. You have to love when you finish a project in the season where you can actually wear it, right?

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs

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How To Sew Easy Baby Bibs on Reallyhandmade.com

Want to make the easiest baby gift ever? Forget rushing and staying up late the night before a baby shower to make a quick quilt. Don’t grab a random ball of yarn and attempt to be the world’s fastest knitter of the world’s tiniest hat. Grab some fabric and few snaps, and with a simple straight stitch you can have a lovely box full of adorable baby bibs ready in no time!

Emmerich is a drooler. Always has been, and goodness, I hope he’ll be growing out of this soon. But even if your friend or loved one’s baby (or your own baby), isn’t a drooler now, they will be at some point! In which case you’ll need a bib, and who wants a baby to have to wear a giant square of ugly waterproof fabric for 12 hours a day? Not me! Instead, make these super easy and really cute baby bibs!

I’ve been sitting on this tutorial for…oh…EIGHT MONTHS? Ha! I’ve had the photos edited and everything, but haven’t quite gotten around to sharing it until just now. Considering we use these every day, I thought I should finally share how I made them.

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs on ReallyHandmade.com

Start with a square of fabric that measures 18″ x 18″, and a set of snaps. I recommend using a double gauze or flannel, as these are soft but super absorbent. A quilting cotton won’t do as nice of a job of absorbing every little droplet that runs down a baby’s chin. I like using my SnapSetter tool and pronged snaps, but use whatever you have on hand. A snap is nice instead of Velcro because a baby can’t pull the bib off, and also you don’t have to worry about Velcro tearing up other clothes in the washer.

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs on ReallyHandmade.com

Next, finish your fabric edges. I start by turning all of my edges in at 1/4″, and giving them a good press. Then, turn in each corner by 1/2″, and give your sides another turn in by 1/4″. This will enclose all raw edges and give you a lovely mitered corner. You can then sew all around your square, pivoting at each corner, and have a very professional finish.

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs on ReallyHandmade.com

Once it’s sewn, fold the square in half, making a large triangle.

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs on ReallyHandmade.com

Add a snap to either end of the triangle, paying attention to the sides of the bib so it will close correctly. Be sure you are inserting the snap in such a way that the bib will overlap, and not have the same side of the bib snapping to itself.

How to Sew Easy Baby Bibs on ReallyHandmade.com

And ta-dah! Super easy, super simple baby bibs!

FinishedBibs

If you want to make these for an older baby, consider making your squares at least 1″ bigger all around. The closer your snaps are to the ends of the bib, the bigger it will be. If you wanted to make the bibs larger, but add a second set of snaps for sizing options, that would be a great idea. These have fit Em since he was wearing 6 month size clothes, and he’s only now starting to need larger ones (he’s currently wearing 2T month outfits).

What other kinds of sewn items do you like to make for little ones as quick gifts?

My Brand New Craftsy Class and a Giveaway!

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Craftsy-Pattern-Star

Anyone who knows me knows my secret power. I can spot a mismatched plaid, stripe or print from across a room within seconds. Walking through a department store in the fall is one of my least favorite things to do, because the plaid shirts and heavy stripes say “look at me!” and all I see is the carelessness with which those shirts were sewn together. Pockets are askew, colors and stripes don’t appear to have even been attempted to match up at the side seams, and more often than not, even the center front is offset, making the shirt appear twisted. I sigh, shake my head, and move on. It’s a sign of fast fashion and carelessness, and I care about having well made and well matched garments.

But every once in a blue moon, there is a shirt or dress that has been lovingly matched. The stripes fall gracefully across the body of the garment, or the floral pattern has a balanced flow across the bodice, without flowers being chopped up by seams. These pieces are quite a bit more expensive because of the care and attention to detail that has been given during the planning, cutting and sewing process.  Is it worth it? Absolutely. But it’s also worth it to learn these matching skills yourself, because when you have a fully matched garment, your sewing skills show you are detail oriented and your garments are much more professional than anything you could find on a department store rack. With perfectly matched seams, a shirt or dress says “I made this” not because it looks homemade, but because it has been sewn so well, there is no way you could have found it in a store.

With this in mind, I proposed my new class to Craftsy, and they were on board! I have been writing and sewing and writing and sewing and finally filming, and now the class will be released in a few days!

Craftsy-Pattern-Emery

I am really excited to share this one with you! If you have ever wondered about laying out and perfecting matching and sewing plaids, stripes, prints or any other fabric for amazing results, I would love to have you join my class!

You have a chance to win my class for free for the next 4 days, thanks to Craftsy. All that you need to do is click the link below and you will be entered to win. The giveaway closes on March 6th. They will randomly choose a winner and then I will let you know if it’s you!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN!

After my class launches, I will share more projects and class samples with you, but here’s a sneak of my favorite one, a gingham Grainline Studio Archer. I am so in love with this shirt, and I couldn’t be happier with the matched plaid lines.

Craftsy-Pattern-Archer

I hope you’ll join me for some really fun sewing!

Remembering

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Some mornings, it’s too quiet around here. Once Rob leaves for the day and Emmerich goes down for his nap, I’ll sometimes sit on the couch and catch a few moments to myself before I either start working or attack the dishes in the sink. It’s in those moments that it hits me the most that Dax is gone.

Dax from ReallyHandmade.com

Back in July, I found a few lumps on Dax’s throat. A couple of vet visits told us what I didn’t want to hear. Dax had cancer, lymphoma to be specific. We tried chemotherapy for many weeks, and it did seem to help. He didn’t have as much energy as before, but at least we could cuddle and enjoy walks together still. A few days before Halloween, Dax let us know it was time. We put him to sleep in the comfort of our living room, so I could hold him and he wouldn’t be stressed out. After he was gone, I went to sit in the car and sob, where I could cry as hard as I needed to without waking up the baby.

I think I’ve been gone from this space for so long because I knew I’d have to write about this, and I wasn’t sure how to do that yet. Every time I’d sit down to write, about anything at all, my brain would stop the words. I can’t even type this out without crying. I miss him so much, and it’s hard that Emmerich does too. When he hears a dog barking outside, he immediately gets excited and exclaims, “Dah-daw!”, his version of “Dax dog”. When you tell him it’s not Dax, he cries. I didn’t expect Em to remember him so well or to miss him so much.

It does help to have such an active and adventurous little love to help me smile every day. Emmerich turned a year old in November, and he loved his cake!

Emmerich from ReallyHandmade.com- quilt by Elizabeth Hartman

I spend a lot of my days taking care of Em, but now we have a wonderful nanny who comes a few times a week so that I can get more work done. I have been working a lot, doing technical editing jobs and writing and sewing for a new secret adventure that I will be able to tell you about in a few more weeks.

I do want to share some of what I’ve been making. It hasn’t all been for work, some of it has actually been for me! There have been 3 Linden sweatshirts, 2 Morris Blazers, 1 Lark (I love Grainline Studio, can you tell?), 2 knit hats, 20 different dresses/shirts/skirts/pants for different jobs, 1 wedding capelet, 3 Christmas stockings, 1 quilt  and several other in-process items. Yowza!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer from Reallyhandmade.com

I honestly haven’t had a chance to wear my  Morris Blazer yet. I had thought I would wear it to the symphony recently, but then I was cold and wore a sweater instead. I made the blazer longer by 2″ because I think that will look better on my frame, but for my next one, I think I’ll keep it short.

Also- gray? Ugh. I have got to buy more COLOR! Going through my closet recently, I decided I am banned from buying any more gray. That’s going to be a challenge for me!

Grainline Studio Linden by Reallyhandmade.com

My navy Linden (made out of a Pendleton fabric I’ve had for a good year and half) is deliciously soft. The French terry fabric does tend to grow a bit during the day though. I made a second one of these for my Mom, but I didn’t have much fabric and had to put 3/4 length sleeves on hers. It turned out really cute!
Grainline Studio Linden by Reallyhandmade.com

Of course a made a gray one- ha! This is a double knit from Mill End, which was super soft when I bought it. Within 2 wears and one wash, it is completely pilled. It’s relegated to my “wear around the house only” rotation. Guess I’ll just have to buy some more French Terry from Hellgate Fabrics and make another one!

LarkNavy

I found this navy sweater knit with a faux cable at Mill End too (I love that place, can you tell) and made a Lark. It was the last of the bolt, so I got a really good deal on it. I like the shirt itself, but this fabric is pretty itchy. I don’t see me wearing it very much, if at all, because of that.

Ravelry- Basic Baby Hat

I have knit two little hats for Emmerich. Baby hats are great projects for using up bits of leftover stash yarn. I made him a little yellow one from some cotton I had on hand, and then this burgundy one out of baby alpaca to match my own Jul hatEm&MamaHats

Yep- I’m that mom! On one of our Fabric Depot trips, I hadn’t noticed that Em and I had on similar sweaters, navy pants and our matching hats. A little girl checked us over carefully, and then exclaimed, “You guys match!” I had to laugh, because I hadn’t done that on purpose! Pretty soon I do hope to make he and Rob matching flannel plaid shirts though. That’s pretty high on my sewing priority list!

WeddingCapelet

One of my fun work projects that I can share is this vintage inspired wedding capelet for a winter bride. It is lined with a navy satin and has a very sparkly diamond clasp at the neck. I don’t mind working with faux fur because I know the tricks to use to make sure it doesn’t shed too much. I’m happy to say the bride loves it!

WeddingCapeletClasp

One super fun project I snuck in was making Christmas stockings. I told myself that it was okay to buy them, I had enough on my plate already. But then I saw this buffalo plaid and faux fur at Joanns and the next thing I knew I was cutting them out. I’m really happy I made them. I finally have stockings in the colors and fabrics that I want! Plus, I love that Em will use something that I made for him every year. Watching him pull toys out of his stocking was really fun!

stockings

It feels so wonderful to write again. I think it will help me with the loss of my dear Dax, and I have many more ideas for tutorials and projects that I’d like to share with you soon.

Wardrobe Plans

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My sewing machines have been whirring lately. I’ve been sewing things that I can’t share with you though. I’ve been hired to do technical editing, which means I get to see and sew sewing patterns before they are released. I really love the work, helping a local company (Colette Patterns) to review and edit patterns and the instructions that go with them before they are released to the public. I have always loved editing, and of course I love sewing, so technical editing is a perfect fit for me, and work that I’m quite familiar with.

I have been able to do a bit of sewing for myself as well. I am slowly working on a bunch of cat head quilt blocks. Yes, cat heads! I saw this quilt pattern (called The Kittens) that Elizabeth Hartman designed, and sent a message to two other bloggers who I knew would love it. Elizabeth was kind enough to send me the PDF of the pattern, and it is wonderfully written, as all of her patterns are. My swap partners and I are swapping blocks sometime in the near future, so I hope they love bright colors in their quilts!

The Kittens Cat Head Quilt Blocks by ReallyHandmade.comEm’s quilt top is finally pieced as well. Of course, who knows when I’ll get it sandwiched and quilted. I think that will be a fall/winter project. Maybe I can get it done by his first birthday? Ha! I do love to machine quilt when it gets colder out. It gets pretty warm in my sewing room in the summer, because I have two big windows that light streams through, warming up my studio very quickly. Add in the additional heat from pressing and steaming and having a lap full of wool batting isn’t so appealing.

Patchwork-Quilt-for-EmI couldn’t resist cutting out another one of my favorite tank top patterns. I have the instructions on this site for making your own pattern and sewing one up if you’re interested! These tops are definitely a staple in my summer wardrobe. I had held onto this fabric for a long time, waiting to design or find the perfect sewing pattern for it, and I finally got tired of seeing it in my stash but never getting to enjoy it. It’s so much nicer to get to wear this rayon print instead of stare at it in my stash.

Perfect-Floral-TankMost of my sewing is being done with items in my fabric stash. I honestly only own maybe 25 pieces of fabric that are uncut yardage, waiting to be turned into garments. Even most of Em’s quilt fabrics came from my stash. It feels pretty good to start seeing some bare spaces on my shelves.  I have two large stacks of fabric that consists of remnants, leftover pieces from dresses and shirts. It may be time to cull through those and be ruthless, throwing out anything that doesn’t have enough yardage left to cut out an actual project. There are lots of little bits that I saved thinking that I’d make baby clothes out of it, but I realize now that most of the pieces are not large enough to even cut out a shirt for Em.

Have you read the Wardrobe Architect series on the Colette blog? A year ago I told myself I was going to do the exercises that they have written up, but I still hadn’t found time for it. Now, as I am beginning to use up my “good” fabric, I want to make sure I am making style choices that I am going to enjoy wearing for a long time. I’m a pretty picky person when it comes to what I wear, but too often I give up on finding a garment with the fit I actually want and then I buy something inexpensive that I don’t love. Couldn’t I buy yardage instead and make what I want? Of course I could. I have false story in my head that I’ll be able to find what I want with the fit and fabric that I love. How often does this happen? Basically never. It’s time for some detailed sewing planning and cleaning out my closet.

fall-fabricsI have been wanting to pick up some new sewing techniques too. I have quite a library of knowledge in the ole’ noggin, thanks to working with such a diverse group of people over the years. But I’ve been trying to find techniques and methods that are new to me, to spice things up. I’ve been looking through the Craftsy sewing catalogue, and I’m going to watch a few classes to see what I can glean. I’ll let you know if a particular class has any really good tricks!

Speaking of Craftsy, they are having a 50% off sale this weekend, through September 9th! If you purchase a class with my affiliate link, I receive a small portion of the proceeds, to help me restock my fabric shelves.

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So please tell me, how do you decide what kinds of garments to make out of your “special” fabrics? Do you plan a lot in advance, or just sew it up and hope for the best?