Archive for November, 2011


Project 42: Patterns and pieces

November 23, 2011

Shoe pieces

One of the things that intimidated me about this project was that I wouldn’t have access to the baby while cutting out the pattern, so I wouldn’t be sure if they were right until the project was finished. I modified the original pattern slightly to give her more room for her toes, but I kept the rest of the measurements pretty much the same.

I also like how the upper pieces make big As.

Since taking this photo I actually completed the shoes, but because I was in a hurry I didn’t take any photos. There will be no blog post tomorrow. Check back Friday for a photo of the shoes on baby feet!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Project 42: Materials

November 22, 2011

Shoe supplies

I had a lot of fun choosing materials for the baby shoe project. I knew that I wanted the outer fabric to be a light color with some pattern in a material that could take some abuse. I ended up finding this spotted ivory vinyl in the discount section. It’s really soft and pliable with a fabric back, so I think it will be perfect. The faux leather and the hot pink duck cloth were remnants. Because I don’t need much of each fabric I was able to get some good deals. Then I just needed velcro and bias tape (I bought twill tape because it was the right color) and I’m ready to cut and sew!

The pattern I’ll be following is this one from Suzy at I Just Had To Try This. Her first step is to trace your baby’s foot. Well, the baby wouldn’t cooperate. I pulled out the paper and a pen and all she wanted to do was draw. I won’t have access to the baby’s foot again all week so I’m going to have to wing it. These are a test, I guess. I hope they fit!

Tomorrow: Cutting out the pieces.


Project 42: Baby shoes

November 21, 2011

Pirate Baby Shoes

A couple of months ago I missed a meetup that included learning to make shoes. I figured that since I missed it I would just put the idea of shoemaking behind me. Then a reader suggested I make shoes and a friend was having a hard time finding just the right pair of shoes for her daughter — so I got the shoe bug again. I found a pattern and bought the materials so I’m ready to go!

Photo by LilyWhitesParty on Flickr



Project 41: Done! and lessons learned

November 21, 2011

Finished smocking

Despite the lateness of this post I actually finished this swatch in one afternoon. It has been sitting in my house waiting for me to take a photo. I think I was going to iron it, too, but I didn’t. I’m kind of excited to try a larger smocking project in the future. It’s a neat technique and looks so darn cute when it’s done.

Here is how the swatch looked when I was done embroidering:


You can see my pattern clearly and the dark pleating threads are still intact. The first photo is what happens when you remove the pleating threads. I kind of love it.

Lessons learned:
– Smocking is not difficult. I imagine that hand pleating could be tedious, or a larger piece of fabric in the pleater could get cumbersome,  but the embroidery is kind of fun and the possible patterns are limitless. I’d like to try to make a garment with it some day.
–  With my schedule these days I need to take photos and post right away or it won’t get done.

Stay tuned for project 42!


Project 41: Pleating

November 17, 2011

When Laurie pulled out this odd contraption I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It had odd rollers and some needles sticking out, but I couldn’t fathom how it would all work together. She had me start threading each needle while she ironed our test piece of fabric.

Next, she wound the fabric around a dowel and we fed the fabric through the pleater. I turned the crank and look what happened:

Perfect little pleats started feeding themselves over the needles! I made Laurie stop so I could snap this picture because it was so neat. This step actually went very quickly. I stopped cranking every few turns to work the bunched up fabric off of the needles and onto the thread. When we were done we had this:

You can see in this photo that I have tied knots in the threads to hold the pleats in. As I worked on the smocking I tied them a bit tighter because I found that these pleats were too loose. Also in this photo you can see the beautiful gather that formed in the fabric below the pleats. Cute!

Check back tomorrow for my finished smocking swatch.


Project 41: The basics

November 16, 2011


After reading up on smocking for a few days it seems like the kind of tool I want in my future sewing arsenal. When I think about sewing garments the one thing that scares me the most is cutting and sewing accurately to get the right fit. Smocking is sort of a shortcut to that. It takes a wide piece of fabric and gathers it to fit snugly. The embroidered designs are just an awesome decorative bonus.

The first step in smocking is pleating the fabric. This can either be done by hand or by using a pleater. The photo above shows blogger Marie Grace hand gathering her pleats. She wrote a great tutorial for anyone who wants to try pleating by hand: Hand Pleating Fabric Tutorial. I’ll show you a photo of a pleater in action tomorrow.

The next step is to embroider the design. The design stitches are what ultimately will hold the pleats in the fabric together. A smocking design is called a smock plate. There are a few free smock plates around the internet. I chose to start with one called Snowflakes by Creations by Michie.

I guess it would be helpful to also get some fabric, thread, and embroidery floss, but Laurie had offered to provide all of that for me (thanks Laurie!).

Now it’s time to smock!

Photo by Marie Grace


Project 41: Smocking

November 14, 2011


I have had smocking on my list of projects ever since my friend Laurie mentioned that not only does she know how to do it, but she also has all of the supplies. So this week I’ll be going over to her house to learn this awesome embroidery technique. My mind is racing with a whole bunch of ambitious sewing ideas incorporating smocking, but this week I’ll just focus on learning the basics.

Wish me luck!

Photo by wildmary on Flickr




Project 31: Finished soap and lessons learned

November 12, 2011

Finished soapHey everyone! Remember how I made soap back in August? Well, it has been done for some time and sitting on top of a dresser. I wasn’t sure I was happy with it. The soap smelled kind of stale, to be honest, and had a fine layer of crud on top from curing outside.

See, a day or so after making the soap our house started to smell like mothballs. We were afraid that it may have had something to do with the lye, so we cured the soap outside. (In hindsight we think the smell might have been coming from a neighbor’s apartment.) My soft soap collected a layer of dirt and grime while sitting in its bread pan. Between the smell and the crud I wan’t too eager to post it on the blog.

But the show must go on. This morning I took the top layer off of each bar with a vegetable slicer and they were good as new. Then I tested one to see how it lathered and it worked great! I was impressed. The smell isn’t good, but it didn’t leave a bad smell on my hands so I think they’re usable.

Yay soap!

Lessons learned:
– Safety is key when working with lye, but it isn’t so difficult that one shouldn’t try it. Soapmaking was easier than I expected.
– A stick blender is absolutely the right tool for emulsifying the liquid soap. Worked like a charm.
– Trying soapmaking a few times to test smells and shapes would be a fun thing to do.

Watch for more updates this weekend and a new project starting Monday!