Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bow Neck Polka Dot Blouse with Ruffled Hemline

It took me a while to decide what to do with this lovely blue and white rayon polka dot fabric. It was passed on from my mom's hands to mine, the day we reminisced over fabric.

I love polka dots, so I'm surprised that I've only sewn one other thing with polka dots. I pondered over this fabric a long time to figure out what I should make with it. And since I'm ridiculously obsessed with not using patterns, I didn't want to mess it up!

I'm happy to say that I love the way it turned out. It has kind of a sailor top flair.







The sleeves were probably the hardest part of this for me. Without a pattern, I think I made it harder than it needed to be. They turned out ok, but are a little more "pleated" on top than I would have liked. 

Here's how this little polka dot number came to life:
  • I used a fitted tank top for the bodice pattern.

  • And used a favorite t-shirt as a neckline guide


  • To finish the necklines, I created pieces that would flip over the back to create a smooth seam on the front.


  • Below, is how it looked after sewing it on, flipping it over and ironing it down. Instead of a zig zag stitch to secure the raw edge of the inside flap, I used fray check.

  • For the hem line ruffle I used a circle ruffle. I love circle ruffles! Gathered ruffles can be a bit bulky, and I wanted a more delicate ruffle. I love how softly it lays. 
  • I used a round lid to create the inner circle and a string and pencil to act as my compass to make the outer circle. I had to go back to high school math for this one! and use the Pi equation to figure out how big to make my circle. Instead of my garbled math explanation, see this easy how-to from Sweet Verbena.
  • Once the circles are cut and opened, you can see how nicely they lay. 


  • Next, I pulled out my hemmer foot and hemmed the ruffles; then pinned them right sides together to the bodice. 


  • Now on to the dreaded sleeve. Really sleeves aren't that hard, but I made it harder. I'm a glutton for punishment.
  • I copied a sleeve I already had taken off something else, but made it bigger. 
  • In order to fit the new sleeve in the armhole, I did a few gathering stitches on either side of the center top of the sleeve.

  • The point is to gather a bit on either side of the top center, until the sleeve fits nicely in the hole. I would have liked my sleeves to lay a bit flatter, but since I cut the sleeves a little too big for the arm hole, it meant I needed more gathers. And since I didn't gather it quite far enough on either side from the center, it gathered a little more than my liking at the shoulder. If that even makes sense. But it will do just fine.



  • Now for the hanging neck bow. This was just the finishing touch I was looking for.
  • I measured how long I wanted the ties, cut a couple matching pieces, ironed them in half, pinned, and sewed.  

  • Turned the ties right side out, ironed them flat, and attached them to the shoulder seams.



One of these days I may break down and actually buy a pattern. I'm guessing it's probably easier than re-inventing the wheel.

For me, it seems to be the challenge and test of my creativity that's got me hooked on doing it myself. But I seem to forget there's always a good dose of aggravation thrown in. But maybe overcoming it is what gets me to push myself harder??

Speaking of aggravation, I'm working on a tank top refashion right now, using a scarf as a sheer overlay. It's had its share of hiccups, but I will press on! Hope to share it if I survive. :)



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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dolman Sleeve Rayon Top with Bow and Gathered Neckline

Dear Internet,

What do you call a sleeve that you cut as part of the shirt but it isn't actually cut-out? You know, the sleeve that isn't really a "sleeve"? If you cut around the outside of your shirt but don't actually cut out sleeves, what do you call that?

Sincerely,
Clearly Clueless

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you the Dolman Sleeve:
So that's what it's called!
Thank you Internet for understanding me, in spite of myself.

{image credit}
This whole Dolman Sleeve hoopla started when I made my first polka dot blouse last week, with sleeves, but without a pattern (I'll be posting about it later this week). As it turns out, making sleeves without a pattern for the 1st time, was a little more aggravating than I expected.

So...as I contemplated my next torturous sewing exercise, the thought came to me. I've seen shirts with sleeves already part of the garment. I have no idea what they're called, but I want to make one! [insert jumbled clueless internet search words = Dolman Sleeves].

*You're welcome for making a short story even longer.

Without further delay, here's my Dolman sleeved, rayon blouse with a gathered neckline and coordinating polka dot bow. I even added a ruffled hemline for kicks.


Dolman sleeve in all its glory



I decided to use a couple remaining pieces from my polka dot blouse as a bow, to give it a little contrast.
I gathered the neckline to give it a little more interest.


Making your own Dolman Sleeved top is actually really pretty easy.
  • I just laid down an oversized t-shirt and cut around it for my pattern
  • I cut a lower neckline for the front and a higher neckline for the back.
  • Just make sure your seams match up on both pieces (shoulder, arm, & hem).

  • For your basic top, just hem the neckline and arm holes, stitch together the shoulders, then the sides, and finish with the bottom hem.

Easy breezy, loose fit!


▶▶▶Here are a few great summer shirt sewing ideas◀◀◀
They are now all on my to-do list!!




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Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy 7 years

I can't let this day go by without giving a shout-out to my wonderful husband Rod.

Here's to 7 wonderful years with my sweetheart
And many, many happy years ahead! ♥


P.S. I finally finished 2 of the summer blouses I've been working on. I'm hoping to have them posted tomorrow. Fingers crossed!




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Friday, June 22, 2012

Out of the mouth of babes

{image credit}

I've told you before how much I love the kids I work with
They make me laugh every day or say something that tugs at my heart strings.
I'll miss seeing their cute faces over the summer.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the last few weeks of school.

I came to school wearing an aqua sweater.
A kindergarten girl ran up to me excitedly and exclaimed, "Miss Shannon! I have a crayon that color!"

A kindergarten boy told me I had the same birthday as one of his friends.
Him: "He's 6. How old are you Miss Shannon?"
Me: "41."
He thinks for a minute and says, "I wish you were 6 and he was 41."
Me: "Me too. That would be fun, wouldn't it?"
Him: "Yah. We could be best friends."


A 2nd grade boy asked me to play truth or dare.
Me: "Truth"
Him: Shyly giggles and asks, "Have you ever kissed a boy?"
Me: "Yes"
Him: Giggles with his hands over his face and asks, wide-eyed, "On the lips?!"


hahaha Love those kids!!



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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Welcome Summer!

{image credit}
When I was a kid, summer seemed to last forever. That last day of school was the start of something magical. You could feel it in the air.

All at once it began. Sleeping in, swimming for hours, camping, running through the sprinkler, riding bikes, water balloon fights, family trips, and games of kick the can until way after dark. Ah, the carefree days of a childhood summer.

This summer I'm hoping to keep a bit of that childhood whimsy, while getting some of my to-do's done too. I even started a list, which includes a bit of cleaning, biking, painting, sewing, blogging, day tripping, organizing, and many other miscellaneous tasks.


{image credit}

And I'll be honest, it has started out a bit rocky. "Sleep" has officially moved to #1. For the last 2 nights, road work has started at 11pm and ended at 6am. The hills are alive with the sound of....jackhammers and generators. Not exactly the way I pictured my whimsical summer starting.

{However}, I won't let that stop me!


HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!


{image credit}






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Monday, June 11, 2012

Ink Blot T-shirt Party! 50 kids:50 shirts

Want a totally unique party idea? 
Have an ink blot t-shirt making party!

Coolest thing since sliced bread.

I decided to take on a group of 50 kids for some ink-blot t-shirt making madness and it was a smashing success!

What's more rewarding, than making something super cool and being able to show it off ?! The kids were so excited to make them and even more exited to wear them.





Everyone's done tie-dye, but have you tried Ink blot t-shirt design
It's the newest, coolest way to design your own t-shirts. And it's easy enough for any age.  Like really easy. Anyone who can drip paint and fold something in half is eligible. See what I mean?

Here's a little demo.
Hard to believe such cool designs come from something so simple.


Okay, back to my crazy ink blot partaay!
We started off with our supplies. If you're interested in making it really easy on yourself? You can purchase pre-made Ink Blot T-shirt Design Kits from my etsy shop.

Here's a bit of what we started with:
  • White t-shirts
  • Fabric Paint
  • Pre-folded {recyclable} cereal boxes (to use as cardboard inserts)



T-shirts all stuffed and ready to go.



Kids ready to go.


Let the paint squeezing begin!







Then fold


Big reveals

Oooooh.....ahhhhhhh

The kids had lots of fun discussing what they saw in each of the designs.
Robots? Animals? Insects? Space aliens?
You name it. They saw it.


T-shirts laying out to dry. We had quite a line up starting.



And just in case you're a sucker for before and after's like me?
Here you go:





  • Learned new skills
  • Created fun memories
  • Beamed with pride over their newly designed t-shirts they made all themselves
  • An activity well worth doing
Proudly showing off their creations
{Protecting the kiddos privacy by "blotting" out their faces.}
They're smiling. I promise!

Great activity idea for:
Birthday parties, school activities, summer camps, fundraisers, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, family reunions, sweet 16 parties, you name it!

Ink Blot T-shirt Design Kits for purchase, complete with tips and detailed instructions.


{WATCH} to see how fun an ink blot party can be!



Happy Ink Blotting!



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