April 25, 2012

Burda Anda Dress #1

In my ongoing quest to conquer sewing clothes, I've been googling "womens dress patterns" online and reading a bunch of reviews. I recently settled on a pattern from BurdaStyle.com called the "Anda" dress. This pattern seems to be very popular and hundreds of people had shared photos of their finished projects online.

In addition, it seemed simple and customizable, looked similar to other dresses I own, and was under $4! I purchased some shirting fabric from Fabric Depot and set to work on the project.

First, I love the finished dress, and didn't stray far into customizing it. It's only two pattern pieces (front and back) plus bias strips for the neck and arm holes, and a fabric tube for the elastic casing. That said, I do have a couple complaints:

1) Horrible instructions. It's possible that it was a translation problem (I believe that Burda may be a German company?), but a great deal of information is missing. Luckily, it's an incredibly easy project, so if you have sewn clothing before, you'll likely be able to figure it out. And if you don't figure it out exactly, just figure that you customized it!

2) While the pattern is in PDF format, it's laid out for German A4 paper, and takes 29 sheets. After printing out all those sheets you're supposed to tape the edges together (29 sheets!) and then cut the patterns out. Again, lucky for me, I use Adobe Illustrator, so I easily changed the format to print on 9 tabloid sheets of paper, thereby lessening the amount of aligning and taping. They also provide a format for large-scale plotting, so if you have access to a plotter, or want to pay to have it printed at a print shop, there is that option.

I think the shirting fabric is a little stiffer than I wanted, and I wanted to add pockets but then forgot about that until after I stitched the side seams and finished the edges. I also think I was supposed to put the casing for the elastic on the outside, but got a little confused with the "instructions". I think it works fine on the inside though, and now I have some goals for my second dress.  Below is a low-light, dressing room mirror photo illustrating the way it fits me. Not too bad, and I love the colors!

UPDATE: I made a second Anda dress with variations.

April 22, 2012

Seattle weekend

Mike and I just got back from a long weekend in Seattle. We made use of our Groupon for a night at the Executive Hotel Pacific downtown, across the street from the Central Library. We kept postponing this weekend trip due to other activities, but managed to sneak in under the wire with just a week left before it expired. It turns out that we "planned" the trip perfectly, as you can see in the photo above, the weather was fantastic.

The hotel was in a great location for downtown wandering, and our groupon purchase also landed us a free bottle of wine and box of chocolates. The rooms aren't large, but big enough, and they also gave discounted parking passes (very helpful in this city).


We spent the first day and a half downtown, walking from our hotel on 4th & Spring, to the Pike Place Market, The Pike Street Brewery, and the  Olympic Sculpture Park, then up to Capital Hill to the Elysian Brewery (we also snuck in a movie at the Regal AMC along the way).

I made Mike pose on a chair at the sculpture park.
Mike made me hug a tree at the sculpture park.  
Breakfast along the waterfront
Fresh flowers from the market

Saturday afternoon we headed to Beacon Hill to visit Katie, Jamie and Max in their new home and neighborhood. After a backyard BBQ and some "battle axe battling", we headed to the park next to their house to check out the awesome view of Seattle, then over to Bar Del Corso for pizza - highly recommend it if you're in the neighborhood. Along with pizza, I can vouch for their mussels, sunchoke & arugula salad, and meatballs.


We finished up the trip with breakfast and coffee in the u-district, and happened to run into an old Portland friend on the street! We made the 3-hour drive home in 80 degree weather, hatching plans for another Seattle visit this summer.

April 18, 2012

Coconut Cookies

This crappy weather makes it really hard to take photos of the projects I've been working on. And when the sun does come out, I have to get out into the garden!

Until I can take photos and post again, might I suggest this cookie recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.

To Die for Coconut Cookies

They are delicious! I've made them twice, once with cornflakes and once with some random fiber cereal. They are super sweet, so enjoy them with some tea while you watch the rain!

April 13, 2012

Wrap Shirt

After tackling clothes to sleep in (low risk - very few people see them) I have moved on to sewing  clothes to wear in the light of day!

To begin, I chose a pattern from Simple Modern Sewing. This book is full of simple Japanese designs; intended to be loose fitting, perhaps a bit on the boxy side (ie, not really designed for hips or bust). I chose the wrap shirt pattern shown on the cover because it wasn't too complex (no buttons, zippers, or real sleeves), and it I felt it could be tailored to fit my curvy shape.

I also chose it because they included this outfit suggestion in the book, and the entire outfit was definitely something I'd wear (though I haven't worn distressed jeans since the 90's, and I'm much more inclined to wear boots instead of loafers, I still liked the overall look).

Only problem is that finding the wool gauze they suggested is very difficult. I finally settled on cotton gauze from Dharma Trading company. At $6.65 a yard, it's cheap and dyeable, which means I can make my shirt any color.

The hardest part of this project was actually creating the pattern pieces. Unlike the paper patterns in One-Yard Wonders, which uses different colors/line weights to differentiate the overlapped pattern pieces, this book uses the exact same line color and weight for the overlapped pieces!


It was like figuring out a puzzle to determine which lines I had to trace and I had to keep referencing back to the book to memorize the outline. I found the only way to keep my relative sanity was to outline my lines with a highlighter pen. I then used freezer paper to trace over those highlighted lines. Ultimately I made some mistakes, but luckily I caught them before it was too late.

Here it is, in all it's white glory! I still need to dye this, but since summer is coming (maybe?) I may leave it white for awhile and dye it in the fall.

I so enjoyed the accomplishment of sewing this shirt that I actually decided to do it again.
I  purchased some lightweight fabric from Bolt to create a second version. In this version I lengthened the peplum skirt a little, and added cap sleeves in place of the french sleeves. I also added a "tag" to the shirt. Not really necessary on this (it's pretty clear which is the front and which is the back) but it does seem to look a little more finished. And I like the pop of the orange against the green when it's hanging up.

The sleeves turned out to be the most tedious part, and they are a little tight (hard to lift my arms up all the way). For future plans I'd keep the rest of the pattern at the same size (XS) but use bigger sleeves.

That said, these patterns tend to run very loose (I'm not usually XS). Since I like my clothes a little more fitted, I went down in size. XS may have been a little tight, so if I choose to make a 3rd one, I'll try the S size.

I think I'm done with this pattern now - time to move on to something new.

April 10, 2012

Wh is for Whale

Baby McKenna will soon arrive, and last month I celebrated with Rebecca & Ryan at their baby shower. 

My gift to them was a whale mobile, handsewn from wool felt. Mama whale is sporting spots, while the baby whales have little patterns embroidered on their bellies. The whale theme came from Rebecca's love of the Oregon coast, Ryan's recent stints of living on a boat in the Caribbean, and their family connections to Maine and Boston. Whales seemed like a good embodiment of those places, as well as being kid-friendly. The shades of blue are meant to represent the varied shades of the ocean, and I hope, have a calming affect on little Liam. 


And because I'm on a baby kick, I also whipped up some bibs with fabric scraps leftover from the sleep shorts. The back of the bibs is PUL, and they close with little pearl snaps. One went to baby McKenna, and the other is in my stash waiting for the next baby to arrive. 

I also whipped up another pacifier clip because they are so simple and so handy if the baby is going to use a pacifier.

And lastly, I couldn't forget Rebecca herself, who just celebrated her birthday.

A little braided leather bracelet, similar to the ones I made my sisters for Christmas.


Wondering how that mobile looks or that pacifier clip works? 

Liam models the pacifier clip

April 9, 2012

Spring Break: Washington

For the past three weeks Mike and I have been on-and-off vacationing. It began in mid-March when we took off to Northern Washington for a week. Our first stop was my dad's house, in the woods of the Kitsap Peninsula.  Because I was still sick from the cold that never ends, I spent three days here:

Curled by the fire, sewing and reading, with a cup of hot water by my side.

Mike spent time in the shop working on our sink vanity for the upstairs bedroom, while Papa worked on the seats for his latest project: a wooden canoe.

He is caning his own seats for the canoe, which seams like quite a tedious process. The finished product looks beautiful though, and now he can add caning to his list of talents.

While I was curled by the fire Mike and Papa also spent some time in the basement brewing beer.

 Then we made Sharon a chocolate cake for her birthday!

After a few days at Papa and Sharon's, we headed further north to Birch Bay, where we rented a condo with Mom & Susanna for four days.

We spent that time sewing, crocheting, mosaicing and walking on the beach.

We wrapped the week up with antiquing in Bellingham and Anacortes, and some cider tasting at a winery in Mt. Vernon.

Despite being sick, it was a great week off and we made lots of progress on our various projects. It energized us enough to head back to work for a week before Spring Break 2: Portland!
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