Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Big-Girl Britches for a New Year

hello to all of my geese and happy 2015! 

as i took the last few weeks off from work, i had a lot of things to ponder. i will be completely honest and tell you quitting BG was one of the items i pondered. as some of my friends in the sewing world know, this isn't the first and probably won't be the last time i ponder this thought. it happens. for those that own their own business, you know what i mean. burn out is real. and rough. and when there is no real "clocking out" going on, a business can run you into the ground. i made myself lists of pros and cons because i am very old-school like that. some days the pros for quitting out-weighed the cons and vice-versa, and some days my emotions swayed me one way versus the other. but in the end, here i am. back at it. because between you and me, i love it. but with some perspective in mind. 

perspective that went a little something like this: 
  • life is too short and too sweet to stress. 
  • life is too short and too sweet to worry. 
  • life is too short and too sweet to dwell on negativity. 
and more than anything, 
  • life is too short and too sweet to spend too much time on a business where come tax time you realize you are almost paying the government to work.

there, i said it. in all honestly, taxes kill me with BG. take an unfortunate tax bracket, add in self-employment taxes and BAM. there goes all the money. wasn't that fun? 

NOT.

so, with all of this said - i need to scale back just a bit. which is quite silly considering i am a very small fry to begin with. but the magic word in that sentence was "I." as in I need to scale back. need to find a better balance. I need to make better use of my time. so, this is all about me. and finding a good balance of work time vs. family time vs. me (and my labrador) time. i am quite positive and think this can be done. i just have to set limits.

so, i am really going to try and focus on limiting my business hours to when my kids are in school. i also need to never again try to publish a new pattern around the holidays. OR have a major deadline in the summer when my kiddos are home with me. see, baby steps y'all. 

what does this mean for you? nothing much really - other than my presence online or emails may be limited to mornings, some evenings and not much in the afternoons. we can do this, right? i mean, we all know how shady i am to start with. :)

with all of this said - on a FUN note, i made myself a list of things so i can try and stay focused and organized and all that fun jive in 2015. and this list includes some really fun sew alongs, collaborations, tutorials, pattern revamps, and a few new patterns - which may or may not all make it.  depending on time. 

so, who's up for a really fun 2015? here's to a happy new year full of BG, organization, staying focused and getting our sew on!!

is there anything you are dying to see?

xoxo - amy

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who Wants to Buy Some BG?

Okay ladies - fun stuff ahead. And this time it isn't just limited to those that sew.

I get at least 2 emails a week asking if I sell the items that I sew. Most of you know that I no longer sew to sell (goodness knows I can hardly keep up with the small amount of sewing I do for patterns and don't even ask Byron how quickly I sew on his shirt buttons) but LOVE to recommend girls that do. I usually send those that ask to my Facebook page and tell them to look at who posts and contact them (this is why I am so crazy in telling all of you to watermark your pics!). 

Anywhos.

What would you do if I told you that 19 uber talented designers got together and have sewed up some major goodies from BG patterns and will be putting all of these items up for sale for YOU TO BUY?

Would you have a major freakout? Because I kinda did. And I can sew, I just don't do so efficiently.


Introducing the Brownie-Goose Online Showcase. Do you hear singing in the background? You are not alone.

The Facebook page is crawling with gorgeousness and sneak peeks. And one of my favorite things is all of the designers were featured and had an "about me" section. I always love to learn a little more about the talented girls behind the beautiful clothes!

You know the girl behind BG loves a good sneak...so here are just a few I grabbed from the site.











Are you excited yet? You should be. 



So, the most important part. When and where.

November 10th at 9 pm EST on the Brownie-Goose Online Showcase Page

Be there and score some awesome clothing, or be square. But don't comment on what I want to buy, I might have to pull out the claws. :) Haha, just kidding. Maybe.

For more details please check out the page and take a moment this morning, drink some good coffee and go window shopping and check out all of the awesome and amazing sneak peeks!

Peace out ladies!

xoxo - Amy

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cricket Sew Along - Day 4, Second Look

Welcome back geese! I hope you had an awesome sewing day yesterday and are ready to finish up your Second Look!
If you are just now joining in the fun, check out these other 3 posts to catch up:
Yesterday we tacked the lining and casing for the elastic. I left you with sleeves to construct overnight. Today we are back to tackle the side seams, elastic, hem and decorative bow!

 Let us start with the elastic. You are going to cut 2 pieces of elastic for the waistband. So, one small formula is needed:

waist measurement - 1
2

For me, Louisa's waist is 21". So, (21-1)/2 is 10". I will cut 2 pieces of elastic that are 10" each. Remember, don't get my measurements confused with yours!


Now, grab one of the pieces of elastic and your elastic-threading thingamajig and feed the elastic through the casing on the front of your Cricket. I put the casing lines on there from yesterday just in case anyone wanted that as a reference.


 When the edge of the elastic is aligned with the side of the dress, sew the elastic in place with a 1/4" seam, as shown below with the black dotted line. When I sew elastic, I like to reinforce the stitch to make sure it isn't going anywhere.


With one edge secured, finish feeding the other end of the elastic through the other side.


Once you have it pulled through, tuck it back so that the edge of the elastic is aligned with the edge of the side just like you did for the other side. Pin in place and again sew the elastic in the casing with a 1/4" seam allowance as shown by the dotted line below.


One side done! Now do the same with the other piece of elastic and the back of the Cricket. 

Once both sides have the elastic secured in the casing, place your dress on a flat surface right sides together and line up the underarm seams, sleeves and elastic casings.


Once everything is lined up and pinned together (you can see below I used the cheater method for the sleeves. Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!), sew (3/8" seam allowance) along the bottom of the sleeve, through the underarms and down the side MAKING SURE to keep your elastic casing for the front and back lined up and also making sure to catch the elastic-securing stitch in your seam.


 Finish those seams and then double check that the elastic-securing stitch was caught and covered. Sometimes, because I am neurotic cautious, I will place another line of stitching to make sure that elastic stays in place. When I do this, I sew it right along the edge of the seam as shown by the gray dotted line. This is certainly not necessary, but as I said...sometimes I get a little cautious like that. :)


Okay, rocking and rolling on day 4. One would think some of you carb-loaded last night. ;)

Now, it is time to finish up the Cricket. If you used the original method for the sleeves, go ahead and put the cuffs on the bottoms as shown in the tutorial on page 20. Then, hem your dress and add the button as instructed on pages 23-25 of the pattern.

Guess what - we have a decorative bow to do and then you are SO done! This bow is easy-peasy and adds such a cute, girly detail that my little Lou adores.

Cut a rectangle of fabric about 5-6" tall by about 40" wide. I actually cut a piece that was 5.5" by selvage width. I just grabbed a solid out of my stash of scraps and had just enough. Here it is below on the fold. You want it to be long enough to be a cute bow - but not too long. And for width, we will fold it over on itself, so pick a width and then double. However, I don't recommend going more that 6" since it may get too bulky to attach to the casing.


 Fold it in half lengthwise with right sides together. You will sew (white line) from one end all the way to the other, making sure to leave a space mid-way through that is about 1-1.5" wide so you can flip it over on itself. 


I like to curve my edges just a bit to make it more feminine looking.


 Once you have sewn it along the edge, leaving a gap in the middle, clip your curved edges as shown below.


Now, grab your handy turn-it-right-sides-out thingamajig (I use hemostats, I couldn't function in my sewing room without them) and flip your bow right sides out. Then, take to the ironing board and press it all along the edge making sure to fold in where you left the gap.


 Once pressed, take your bow the sewing machine and top-stitch all along the edge you just stitched making sure to stitch closed the opening left for turning it right sides out. 

Take your dress and work the fabric evenly along the elastic in the waist. Then, grab the elastic from the buttonhole on the front of your dress so that it is sticking up above the casing as shown below. Again, hemostats to the rescue. Or you can use tweezers. Lord knows my eyebrow tweezers get more time in my sewing room than in the bathroom. I have some very scary brows. Yikes.


 Once the elastic is pulled up a bit, slide one end of your bow through it as shown below.

 Now, work the bow in and give it a beautiful tie. I will not give a tutorial on that because I am the worst bow-tier ever. It is pitiful.

Once your bow is tied - stand back, turn off the iron and the sewing machine and pat yourself on the back. YOU DID IT ladies!! Your Second Look is all done!

Congratulations!!! We actually finished up a day early, wahooo! I will post an album in the brownie-goose lovers group on facebook tomorrow morning so that you can upload your photos for a chance to win some BG patterns and a gift certificate to Hawthorne Threads! This album is for completed photos only and you have until the following Sunday 10/12 to enter photos.

Thanks again ladies for another wonderful BG Sew Along! I hope you had fun and learned a few things along the road. :)

Peace out girlies - from the girl behind BG

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cricket Sew Along - Day 3, Second Look

Welcome back to day 3 girlies! For those of you that finished up the First Look yesterday I hope you are in love with your new Cricket and are back for more! For those of you just joining me - so glad you are here and can't wait to get started on the Second Look!

If you are joining me for the first time, check out these other 3 posts to catch up:
Today we are going to start on the Second Look.
 

The Second Look - once again, this is a Cricket dress with an elastic waist. However, this time we will be using the lining and the dress to create an elastic casing for the waist with a buttonhole to give access to the elastic to create a bow for the front of the dress. This version is ideal for voile, a lightweight cotton, knit and also quilters cotton - although the lighter the cotton the better. You can certainly use a poly crepe or rayon challis for this dress as well, but you would want to be sure to use a lightweight fabric for your bow as well as not to weigh the dress down too much. 

Main difference from the pattern - we will be adding length to the bottom of the lining to create the casing. We will also add a buttonhole to the front of the dress to allow for the bow on the front. So, don't cut your lining yet!

The other difference - I recommend adding a few inches to the bottom hem of the dress since you are now going to be pulling it in at the waist. There is a tutorial included in the pattern on how to add length to a curved hem. It is on page 28. Go ahead and mark it down in history that the girl behind BG is actually adding length to a dress FOR A SECOND TIME IN A WEEK. I have quite the reputation for my shorter dresses. ;) I think I added 3 or 4 inches for the 2 I did Lou, but the next one I make I may only add 2 since I prefer a dress above the knee.  

Extra materials needed
  • Elastic. I prefer to use 3/8" to 1/2" elastic and as I said before I am a slave to Stretch Rite. It really is the best elastic out there in my opinion. You will need about an inch less than your child's waist measurement. Now, this casing is going to be about 1.5" wide, but we need the elastic to be small enough to pull through a 1" buttonhole.
  • Fabric for the bow. Honestly, you can so pull this out of one of your scrap piles. Listen, it is okay. We all know we have them. I could probably clothe an entire city of American Girl dolls just from my scrap pile. Remember, when it comes to my sewing room I become a hoarder. But you will need a piece that is about 5-6" tall by about 40" wide (the bow I made was 5.5" tall by selvage width). 
Alrighty then - let's get started on our Second Look!

First we need to determine where the waist of our dress is going to be. The best thing to do is to measure your child to determine where it should be. If you have your kiddo handy - you get brownie points. However, since most of us sew while our children are either away or sleeping, we probably don't have a kiddo to measure. I winged it for the First Look and the odds were totally in my favor which made me super pumped. Since it worked then, I used the same for the Second Look. What you want to measure is from the underarm to where the waist should be. If you find yourself in my same predicament, you can also grab something out of their closet that has a dropped waist to determine best placement. My measurement is 5". Please don't get that mixed up with yours!

Once you have a measurement, grab the pattern piece for your dress front. I will have you create a new lining pattern piece here. Don't worry - you've totally got this and it isn't hard, but since we are lengthening the lining, I find it is easier to start from scratch. Measure down from the bottom of the arm curve the amount you measured for the waist. In my case, I measured down 5". Make a mark, which is the red dot.


Now, add 1" to your measurement and make another dot. For my example, I made a dot (yellow) at 6" as well.


Draw a line that is perpendicular to the fold at both of these measurements. The red line is your waist line and the yellow line will be where you will cut your lining. I promise this will all make sense soon.
 

 Guess what, you just drafted a new lining piece. See how awesome you are? Now what you want to do is to trace that piece (black dotted lines) on a new piece of tracing paper to use as the front lining piece. 


Now, repeat what you just did for the back dress piece as well to create a new lining piece for the back. A tip for a little time saving so you can get sewing before the kids get home/wake up/need your attention...to make the back lining piece, just place your back pattern piece over your front pattern piece lining up the shoulders and arm curves and just trace from the lines you made on the front piece. This ensures you cut both the exact same. :)

Once you have both the front and back lining pieces drafted, send me your resumes go ahead and cut your front and back lining with the new lining pieces. 


The biggest difference (besides the extra length) is that these lining pieces no longer have a curve to the bottom like they did on the original pattern. This is intentional. Promise. Now, if you have a fabric that is going to fray, go ahead and finish the bottoms of the lining. I used knit, so I am going to leave it be, plus I do a little house-cleaning later along the bottom, so you may want to read ahead to see if you want to finish it just yet. ;)

Once you have your lining pieces cut, we can focus on the rest of the cuts to make:
  • dress front and back - remember to add a bit of length to account for the elastic waist cinching the dress up higher.
  • sleeves - same as pattern (unless you are adding/removing length)
Now, to add that pretty bow to our Second Look, let's get on to the business of placing a buttonhole on the front of the dress. This is where you want to use your brain and pay attention. I am going to draw it out first so you have a visual before you go and start marking and buttonholing. :)

We are going to place a buttonhole (black line) centered over the waist (red line, my 5") but not reaching further than the lining piece (the yellow line, my 6"). 


Clear as mud, right?

Good. Now, that we are all on the same page - let's measure out the spot for our buttonhole. I like to keep my front piece on the fold with right sides facing up. Measure over about 3" on your waist line and place a pin. Notice that I have the lines drawn on my dress front, those are just to demonstrate. Unless you have an awesome fabric marker that you know will come out - don't follow my example! I had Photoshop on my side. ;) Now, I placed my buttonhole at 4" over for this dress when I made it and I must admit I don't like how far over it is, so for the sew along I changed it to 3". However, this is where you get to play designer - do what you think looks best! Basically you want it off-centered on the front. :)


Once you have your buttonhole spot pinned, grab your machine's buttonhole foot. This buttonhole needs to be an inch at most. Since we will place it vertically on the waistline, you want it no taller than 1" or else you will run into trouble down the road when it comes to sewing your casing. So, set your buttonhole foot either by measuring out the guide at the top or by throwing a 1" button in the guide.


 Now, before we go making holes - let's do more work to mark the actual spot for the buttonhole. What you want to do is to make the exact spot of where your hole should be. Remember, my ruler says 4" away from the fold, but yall pretend like it is 3". You live and you learn when you sew!


 Place a pin at both the top and bottom of where you want your buttonhole to go. Make sure to center it on the waistline. So basically you should mark 1/2" above the waistline and then 1/2" below the waistline (the green marks) so that your 1" buttonhole is centered.


Now, take your dress over to the machine and stitch that buttonhole in place. If you feel your fabric needs some interfacing to bulk it up for this buttonhole, go for it! It certainly will not hurt. I have yet to add interfacing in the sewing room and regret it later. When in doubt, interface. Once stitched, place a pin through the top of the buttonhole and grab your seam ripper to open. If you are new to BG - one area I don't take a shortcut is when opening buttonholes. Please place a pin so you don't rip all the way through it! I have done it once and honestly watching my seam ripper laugh at me and the pins on my magnet taunting me saying "I told you so" was enough. Never again for the girl behind BG.


 Now, the front of your dress should look something like this. ;)


I was just looking back and feel silly that I have so many pictures for one small step, but then again - hopefully they all make sense. And we don't have wonky buttonholes! Oh and I don't want to type the word "buttonhole" again for a few days. Haaaa.

Now for a little construction. Carry on with dress construction just as you would in the pattern tutorial from pages 7-15. This has you attaching the lining and finishing off the neck and keyhole. Once finished and turned right side, take your dress to a flat surface and lay it lining side up. Take your time here and line up the lining front with the dress front all along the arm curves. Before we make the casing we HAVE to make sure that the lining is secure to the front. I place pins all along the bottom of the lining, up the sides and at the bottoms of the arm curves. Then, repeat with lining and dress back.


 Once you have the linings pinned in place to the dress front and back, place dress front and back right sides together just to make sure that your linings line up on the side. 


This is just an extra step to make sure that everything is meshing together. When we go to do the casing it is important that the front and back are on the same page if you know what I mean. Now, go ahead and baste stitch the lining to dress along the arm curve as shown on page 16 of the pattern. This will save your sanity down the road.

Place your Cricket front right sides up and put a pin through the top and the bottom of the buttonhole (green lines below). Make sure the pin goes through the lining. We are going to flip the dress over and use this as a guide in just a bit.


Flip the dress over so that the front lining is facing right sides up on your flat surface (PS - do you giggle as often as I do when I refer to a flat surface. I mean what IS that in a sewing room? Haaaa, anything flat is covered in hoopla at all times in my sewing room). You should be able to see where your buttonhole top and bottom is (green lines) by the pins. If not, flip over and pin again. You need these directional makers!


Now, we are going to use those marks to make our elastic casing lines. You are going to make 2 lines. One above the buttonhole and one below. Both of these lines need to be 1/4" off of the buttonhole marker. So, grab your ruler and a fabric marker (since this is on the lining, it wont show so honestly use whatever is handy that you can see to sew later) and make a line 1/4" above the buttonhole (purple) and 1/4" below the buttonhole (brown). Make sure those lines run parallel with the bottom of the lining. Also, I went ahead and added the red dashed line to mark our original waist line in case you were wondering where that came in to play.


This is what mine looks like on the inside without all of the photoshop lines. 




Okay - now that the front casing marked, it is time to mark the back casing. To mark the back lining you can totally measure and duplicate along the back. However, I feel it is a little easier and better to keep the same if you just make the marks for your back lining pieces from your front. To do so, place the dress front and back right sides together making sure to match up the arm curves and sides. When done, pinch the lining pieces together along the side as shown below and using the marks from the front lining piece, make marks on your back lining piece for both the top (purple) and bottom (brown) casing line.


 Make sure to mark both sides of the dress.


Once you have both elastic casing lines marked on each side of the back lining piece, all you need to do is connect the dots, la, la, la, la!


Okay ladies - you are past the hardest parts of the Second Look. Rock on girls. And honestly you probably see now how there are so many words for just a few steps. Hello, party of run my mouth too much here! Now, take your dress over to the sewing machine and stitch both lines of the casing on both the front and back lining/dress. Stitch all the way across as we will be inserting elastic from the sides.


Now for the housekeeping I was telling you about earlier. I ended up with about 1/2" of lining fabric below the casing. I decided to clip that close just to decrease the amount of extra fabric. Since I was sewing knit, there was no need to finish that edge - but if you wanted to clip and finish, you can do that as well.


We have had a very busy day so far - so let me get to a stopping point. The only thing left to do for the first day is to attach the sleeves. This will be done exactly as it is laid out in the pattern tutorial. However, STOP before you go to sew the underneath of the sleeve and the side seams (middle of page 19). We will need to insert elastic into the casing before you go stitching the sides. So, just attach the sleeves but leave those side seams open...until tomorrow my dearys!


Have questions, want to share pics or get opinions? Post to the brownie-goose lovers group on facebook. I promise that today I will pay attention to the right group to look for questions. Haaaa!
Same place, same time tomorrow ladies to continue working on the Second Look!