I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good - The Azara Skirt in Quilting Cotton

I mentioned recently that I went into Joann’s and bought lots of nerdy fabric. It was a bit harder on our bank account than I intended, but if you factor in the amount of money we saved by not getting custom clothing made (or buying real drapes - will post about that soon), it’s not so bad, right?

One I found was the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. 😍 I’ve seen some beautiful (and somewhat pricy) skirts online with this pattern on it, mostly in cute circle skirt styles, but I decided I wanted to try something different.

The hard thing about finding this awesome fabric at Joann’s, though, is that typically it’s quilting fabric, which means it’s not necessarily intended to be turned into clothing. But when you see Marauder’s Map fabric for sale, you don’t ask questions, you just buy it. Trust me. I’ve thought about getting it custom printed, somehow scanning in the map my mom got me years ago and turning into something at Spoonflower, but that’s at least twice as expensive, and more time consuming since I’m mediocre at Photoshop. (Side note - a quick search on Joann's site shows that they do have the Marauder's Map in a knit fabric now, but I can't vouch for it at all - someone let me know if you get it!)

While hubby skied one day, I got brunch and brainstormed

So what is a Harry Potter fan-girl to do? First I tried to find a good, structured skirt pattern that I wanted to use.

I’ve been eyeing the Azara Skirt pattern for a while now on Deer & Doe’s website, but the recommended fabrics were all much flowier than quilting cotton. I emailed them to ask if they’d ever made the skirt with a quilting cotton, and got a quick response saying that they made some muslins, which ended up being a little more triangular and had less drape, but as long as that was a look I was ok with, it could work just fine.

The large format prints worked great for me - I'll definitely do it again!

I decided to go for it - I bought the PDF, and had it printed out at Fedex. For two large sheets, it was under $10 to print, which isn’t so bad. Including the price of the PDF, it’s comparable to buying the print and having it shipped from France, but you don’t have to wait as long, and you don’t have to worry about the folds in the paper.

The first thing I did was wash the fabric with fabric softener and dry it with tennis balls. Twice. This was to soften up the fabric as much as I could before beginning. I wouldn’t say the fabric became luxuriously soft or anything, but it definitely feels better than it did before I washed and dried it.

The Azara Skirt has two versions - one with buttons and one with a zipper. I decided to go for the buttons. Rather than cut up the large format paper, I traced my pieces onto tracing fabric. This is MAGIC because it's cheap and you're not destroying the original (and can then use different sizes in the future). This pattern definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit, because I’d never fully lined a garment (you don’t have to line it, but since this fabric was stiffer and had more friction, I didn’t want it to ride up too much), and I’d never put in a row of buttons. I also wanted to make the skirt as symmetrical as possible, so I very carefully placed my cutouts to accomplish this.

Pre-hem - plus a Ruby photobomb

I followed the instructions to a T, but decided that I wanted a scalloped hemline. I figured it would be another unique touch to my skirt, plus it might help soften up the look of the fabric. I used this super helpful video as a guide. I ended up having 26 scallops that were 2.5 inches wide.

The idea behind a scalloped hem isn’t super crazy - you sew it inside-out, then turn it right-side-out. What makes this technique challenging and time consuming is that you need to pay more attention to each stitch. First, you have to measure the hem and figure out how many scallops you want/how big they’ll be. Then you draw those onto your pinned fabric. Then comes the sewing. Often, sewing a hem can be super easy, you get the feeling of "Woohoo - all I have to do now is hem!" But because here you’ve got curves and corners, you can’t (or at least I can’t) just zoom through this hem. I sewed slowly over each curve, and picked up the foot and turned my fabric at the beginning of each new scallop. Then came turning it right-side-out. Maybe with a different fabric, this would be easier, but I had to take care to push each scallop out and make it as curved as possible (they wanted to be more polygonal), and then press them. Maybe as I get more practice, this won’t be an issue.

I loved that this project pushed me out of my comfort zone. I learned a new hemming technique, lined a garment, made a whole row of buttons, and tried a new skirt style. And now I am the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind Marauder’s Map skirt.

Mischief managed 😉

signature long.png

Quilted Tote Bag

Last month I went into Joann’s without much of an objective (and a cocktail loosening up my brain - don’t worry, hubby drove 😉). It had been a couple months since I had been in, and I might have gone a little crazy. I bought four nerdy fabrics that I had no specific purpose for, but knew I had to have because finding affordable Disney, Harry Potter and Star Wars fabric that is good for something other than kids or fleece blankets doesn’t always happen!

Photo by my incredibly talented friends, Adam Dooms (www.adamdoomsmedia.com) and Shelby Ilyse

Today’s post is going to focus on the project I came up with for this fun sugar skull Star Wars fabric (I don't see this specific fabric online, but there are quite a few fun options available on Joann's website right now). Usually I do things like skirts, but the style of this print reminded me of purses I’ve been seeing in Disney World (or more recently on Instagram, since I live in Colorado), so I decided to make a quilted tote bag - my attempt at a Vera Bradley style bag.

I have never quilted anything until this project, so I was a bit nervous, but I also figured that the print (with it’s black background) would be very forgiving with me using black thread.

I Googled around for some quilted bag tutorials, and the one I’m adapting from for this project is the Hushabye Tote. This tutorial has internal and external pockets, and says that this bag could work well as a diaper bag (note to self for future gifts). I decided to just make mine an extremely simple tote bag with no bells and whistles, though, because I’ve been wanting one to carry books/music/instruments to my weekly rehearsals. I was actually surprised with how “small” this bag turned out since the original poster said it would make a great diaper bag, and I made my fabric pieces slightly larger than they said to (about 16” squares). Maybe with the pockets it would be good for a diaper bag, but I think I would definitely make it a bit wider to be more similar to diaper bags I’ve seen women use. I also noticed that some tutorials mention putting cardboard in the bottom of the bag, but I decided not to do that, because I like the idea of being able to throw the bag in the washer and dryer (which I might have had to do already, because I spilled chile on it).

So without further ado, here’s how I made my adorable new tote purse!

Supplies:

  • Outer fabric (~½ yard) - This was the Star Wars fabric for me
  • Lining fabric (~½ yard) - You could use the same fabric as your outer, but I went with a plain black quilting cotton
  • Fusible fleece (1 ⅓ yards)
  • Medium-heavyweight fusible interfacing (1 yard)
  • Matching thread (or contrasting, depending on the look you’re going for!)
  1. Wash and iron your fabric. 
  2. Cut two 16” squares of your main fabric, lining fabric, fusible fleece and fusible interfacing. (Note: some my pictures show a rectangle because I was considering making a longer bag, but decided to cut it down after I had finished step 7)
  3. Cut a strip of your main fabric that is ~4” by 42”, and a strip of fusible fleece that is 2.5” by 42”. This is for your strap.
  4. Press the strap fabric in half, then line up the fusible fleece strip down the middle and iron into place. Re-press the strip in half, then press the extra fabric over the fleece on either side.
  5. Sew three seams down the strap piece lengthwise. Cut it in half to make two straps.
  6. Iron the interfacing to the lining, and the fusible fleece to the outer fabric.
  7. Quilt the outer fabric and fleece as desired. I did 1” squares (ish) on the diagonal. They’re not perfect, but the print of the fabric was very forgiving.
  8. Attach one strap each to the right side of the fabric, about 4” from the edges of the fabric, using a scant ¼” stitch (so it lies inside your seam allowance later).
  9. Place the outer pieces right sides together and stitch up the sides and bottom.
  10. Cut out 3” squares from the bottom corners, and box them. Grab the right angles of each piece, and pull them away from each other, which flattens the fabric, giving you a more-or-less straight edge, which you then sew up (I had to google around to fully understand what boxing entailed. It’s not hard, but it’s hard to describe. That's why I’m including pictures!)
  11. Sew the lining pieces right sides together on the sides and bottom, but leave a 6” or larger gap at the bottom, which you will use to turn the bag right-side out.
  12. Box the corners of the lining.
  13. Turn the lining right-side out and place inside the quilted bag (which is still inside out). Line up the seams on the side, and pin in place. Sew all the way around.
  14. Turn bag right side out by pulling through the hole you left in the bottom of the lining.
  15. Stitch up the hole in the lining. If you really care, you can do it by hand, but I figured since I was using black fabric, black thread, and this sat at the bottom of my bag (which hopefully no one will look at too closely), I just used my machine.
  16. Top-stitch all the way around the top of the bag.

The finished product! 

This whole project only took me a few hours (spread out over two evenings), and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a happy accident that it ended up being smaller than I thought, because it works very well for a roomy tote-style purse. I showed it to my parents and both of them were surprised I had made it - which, considering my mom loves Disney bags and I’d never made anything like this before, is high praise!

signature long.png

Simple Gathered Skirt

There’s a cute little fabric shop in town that I don’t let myself go to too often because it is a bit out of my price range, and unless I’m trying to make something really nice (like my wedding dress or my velvet dress), I usually can’t justify spending that much on fabric.

But I do follow them on Instagram, and when they posted a picture of a linen they got in, I knew I had to check it out. 

When Nathaniel and I went to Paris a couple years ago, we checked into our hotel and then went wandering around. It ended up pouring, and we found ourselves drenched, in front of the Moulin Rouge. We both love the movie, and I’ve always just kind of been enamored with Parisian style and the whimsical culture those super-duper curated Instagram photos convey, so when Elfriede’s got this Moulin Rouge linen in, I (thanks to the help of a gift card from my mother-in-law) splurged. It fades from black and white to color, and I just knew it would make a lovely skirt.

Feeling very Parisian with these stripes and a scarf from Disneyland Paris!

I’m a big fan of twirling, and I have made a handful of circle skirts (Timey-Wimey Dress, Mary Poppins, my wedding dress, among others) since I started sewing. I love the simplicity, and, especially when I was a beginner, the ease of just using an elastic waistband and the minimal number of seams was perfect. But this fabric, because of the black-and-white to color print, didn’t strike me as ideal for a circle skirt, so I decided to try my hand at a gathered skirt with a flat waistband and a zipper in back. Gathering has (thus far) kind of scared me because of it’s potential to be bulky and difficult to sew - I have no other good reasons 😜 - but this project seemed perfect to start with. I would still have a skirt full enough to twirl around (plus the drape of this linen is lovely).

Paired the skirt with lots of polka dots for this rainy day look

I really only took two measurements for this skirt - my waist and the length that I want it to be. For the length, I decided I wanted it to hit just below the knee, which for me was about 23” (woohoo team shortie!). When I was researching gathered skirts online, most tutorials said to cut 3 pieces - a front and two back, but I decided not to waste this beautiful (and somewhat expensive) fabric on seam allowances. I’ve included the sizes of the pieces I cut (approximately - with the gathered pieces, an inch or two difference in the gathered width shouldn’t make too much a difference). I decided my lining should be slightly shorter than the main fabric, so it doesn’t show. And while it is also a gathered piece, I didn’t think the lining needed to be as full as the main skirt. I also decided that I wanted my waistband to be 2” high, but you can make yours bigger or smaller depending on the look you’re going for. The ease in the waistband is so you can move, breathe, sit, live, etc…

  1. Prewash and iron your fabric.
  2. Cut your fabric pieces.
    1. Main fabric: 3(Waist) x (Length + 1.5” for SA & hem)
    2. Lining fabric: 2(Waist) x (Length - 2” + 1.5” for SA & hem)
    3. Waistband: (Waist + 1” ease + 1” for SA) x (2 x Height) + 1” for SA)
    4. Interfacing: (Waist + 1” ease) x Height
  3. Press the waistband in half lengthwise - this will make it much easier to line up your interfacing.
  4. Attach your interfacing - I used fusible interfacing.
  5. Gather the main fabric and the lining fabric, so they are as wide as your waistband - and leave 0.5” ungathered at each end to be the seam allowances. It might be beneficial to mark the ¼, ½, and ¾ marks of each piece, so you can keep your gathers as even as possible. 
    • My gathering method was to sew two seams with the longest stitch possible on my machine, and then grab the threads at the end of the seams on one side of the fabric and pull them - you will want to be gentle, because it is possible to break the thread, and then you’ll have to start over again (that’s why we’re using 2 seams - I’ve even seen some tutorials which recommend 3. I also know of people who can magically just gather on the go as they sew, but I am NOT ready for that 😜
  6. Pin the three pieces together - the right sides of the waistband and main fabric will be facing each other, and the lining will be oriented the same way as the main fabric (but it didn’t matter much for the lining fabric I got, as I couldn’t tell the right side from the wrong side 🙈). Also, you are only sewing one edge of the waistband right now!
  7. Sew the three pieces together. Press rough edges up toward waistband.
  8. Insert invisible zipper. Your main fabric and lining will both be attached to the zipper, but will be separated the rest of the way below the zipper (step 11).
  9. Finish top of zipper at the waistband (optional, insert hook and eye closure)
  10. Secure the waistband - you’ve got a couple options here. If you like the look of topstitching, you can have a visible seam on the waistband just above the gathers, or you can “stitch in the ditch”, which is what I decided to do. Basically, you’re sewing right where the gathers and the waistband meet, which hides this seam.
  11. Close the back of the skirt up. Do the lining separate from the main fabric. Press the seams.
  12. [Sort of optional] Hang the skirt overnight - the allows the fabric to settle, so you can see if the bottom of the skirt is even. This is more important for fabrics cut on the bias, but can’t hurt in this case, especially if you’re trying to make the bottom as even as possible.
  13. Hem the main fabric and the lining. I chose to do a double fold hem, but depending on the look you’re going for, feel free to play with other options.

Note: I did end up taking the waist in a couple inches (with folds in the back on either side of the zipper). I’m not sure if it’s because the fabric stretched, if I mis-measured my waist and/or fabric, or if there is something else I missed entirely… In many ways I’m still a novice. Everything I’ve done is pretty much self taught, so I still run into random snags here and there.

And there you have it! Luckily I have a bit of extra fabric, mostly from the black and white end, and I have some ideas on how to use it 😉 And here’s hoping I can wear it in front of the Moulin Rouge someday soon!

Stay tuned!

PS: If you’re looking for a quick, simple video tutorial, this one is great!

How Disneybounding Kick-Started my Spring Cleaning

Because I’m a huge nerd and love Disney, I decided to do the March Disneybound Challenge again this year. You might remember I did it last year, too, because everyday I shared my outfits with you guys on Instagram, and then summed it all up in a blog post. Well, looks like I did that all again this year (sorry, not sorry).

This March, I’m proud to say that I only repeated 2 characters/bounds (Ariel, minnie), and on those repeats, I either had new accessories or the outfit was completely different! I did use pieces of clothing that I used last year, and I had to reuse some articles of clothing for multiple bounds, but I tried to be as original as I could (without just buying all the clothes 🙃).

I have a little more color versatility than I did a year ago, but I still lack some basics (like solid colors). There are some characters that I just can’t pull off because (for example) my purple pieces don’t layer/pair well with other items, or the only orange thing I own is plaid (kudos to me for having something orange this year, though!!) I also kept realizing how much I want more cardigans.

My wardrobe still includes things that I love on the hanger, or the idea of having just in case, but I don’t wear them. It’s ridiculous. And since I griped about wanting all my clothes in one place, I haven’t done much to actually make that a reality…yet. I’ve got some good excuses. You might remember that I mentioned wanting to re-vamp my creative space (and even did a little bit) early in 2017, but those plans got a bit derailed because we ended up having to remodel our kitchen due to a leak that caused mold, which made it more difficult than I would have liked to get everything else done April-October (and still have time to pursue hobbies other than organizing my house). Then of course we got swept up in the holidays, and now somehow we’re well into 2018!

So what did I start doing mid-March? Well, organizing my craft room, of course! And it’s one heck of a job, let me tell you. I take most of my outfit selfies in that room, too, so I had to push my piles out of the way enough to get a photo that didn’t look like I live in a hoarders house (remember, people, Instagram is NOT real-life, as much as we might try to make it).

And, with it officially being spring, I’m actually really excited to get this project done. And then move on to the rest of the house. Because of our kitchen remodel, both the extra bedroom on the main floor and the guest room in the basement are disaster zones because we ended up having to move a TON of stuff around. We had to move EVERYTHING out of the kitchen, mostly into the main floor extra bedroom, and some downstairs to the wet-bar area that we turned into our temporary kitchen. And THAT meant that much of what was in the wet bar area needed to be moved, and it went into the guest room. Our garage currently has all our old cabinets, some of which will get hung in the garage for Nathaniel’s workbench area, and the rest will go in our laundry room for extra storage. We only JUST got rid of our old stove (donated it!), which is a good step in the right direction, too.

1
Big Hero 6 - Honey Lemon
2
Disney Sidekick - Stormtrooper
3
Fab 5 - Minnie
4
Zootopia - Judy Hopps
5
Peter Pan - Michael Darling
6
Marvel - Black Widow
7
Pixar - Bing Bong from Inside Out
8
Disney Heroines - Merida from Brave
9
A Wrinkle in Time - Meg Murry
10
101 Dalmatians - Cruella De Vil
11
Underrated Characters - Flit from Pocahontas
12
Disney Princess - Giselle from Enchanted
13
Aladdin - Jafar
14
The Little Mermaid - Ariel
15
Parks Attraction - Star Tours
16
Mulan - Mushu
17
Characters who are/wear green - Elliott from Pete's Dragon
18
Disney Villains - Scar from The Lion King
19
Fantasia - Mushrooms from the Chinese Dance of the Nutcracker Suite
20
Star Wars - R2-D2
21
Moana - Te Fiti
22
Frozen - Anna
23
Rule breaker - Hermione Granger
24
Disney Dogs - 101 Dalmatians
25
Alice in Wonderland - Cheshire Cat
26
Cinderella - Pink Dress
27
90's Style - Gummi Bears
28
Disney Cats - Toulouse from The Aristocats
29
Disney Prince - Eric from The Little Mermaid
30
Vintage Inspiration - The carousel in Disney World mashed up with Carrie Bradshaw
31
A character you've never bounded - Dumbo

With a full time job, animals, a husband I like spending time with, rehearsals two nights a week, personal music projects, sewing/crafting projects and a social life, it’s been REALLY hard lately for me to feel like my home is at all put together. But I need to feel proud of my house. I need to be comfortable with people coming to visit rather than apologizing profusely any time someone walks in the door because I don’t think it’s clean enough. So I am going to dedicate more time to this, and hopefully that sense of cleanliness will become a feeling of calm in my life.

signature long.png