Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017: PART 2

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Part 2 Rectangle

Today I am back with the second installment of my Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Recap!  If you missed it, you might want to start with Part 1 as it gives some general context, etc.

The projects I am sharing this round are mostly apparel but there is one fun/silly non-clothing item bonus project at the end!  But first…

RAGLAN TOP AND COORDINATING MINI-COWL NECK SCARF:

Eggplant Bethioua by Brenda Zapotosky with Words

I sewed up this combo for my mom, who is one of my biggest fans and is always so appreciative of the items I make for her.  She is a pleasure to sew for and thus I have made her many items over the past few years.  She has a lot of Brenda-Made clothing that was either made specifically for her or was an item that didn’t work for me.  So for her gift I wanted to make her something from a “new to her” pattern.  I have sewn up the Bethioua Raglan top once before for myself and my mom loves it so I thought it was a great choice for her gift.  For the main fabric I chose this awesome Eggplant French Terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics.  I love this “line” of french terry fabrics that Raspberry Creek carries because they are a cotton/spandex blend!  And jewel-tones are a good color on my mom.

Bethioua 3 Views by Brenda Zapotosky

Originally I planned on using some charcoal gray cotton spandex for the cuffs and collar but I had a scrap of this AGF knit (from the Etno Collection, can’t remember the design name) sitting on my table when I was working on this and they looked so perfect together I decided to use it instead.  I like how it adds a really special and unique touch to the sweatshirt.  AND, after I cut the shirt pieces I had a perfectly sized piece left to make a mini-cowl!!!  Bonus Gift!  I just love how it pairs with the shirt.

The Pattern:  I have sort of mixed feelings about this pattern.  The Bethioua Raglan (which I purchased from Indie Sew) is a a fun one, since it has some special details that set it apart from other raglan tops, including subtle bat wing sleeves and really awesome curved back seams where the sleeves attach (instead of the usual angled raglan connection).  Both big pluses.  It also has shoulder darts… which is a minus for me.  I have made this pattern twice now, and I am just not sold on them.  I am not sure if I am not sewing them correctly… since on other examples I have seen they do not stick up like they do on mine.  Or if they are more pronounced when using heavier fabric.  Or they need to fit just right to look good.  But I am not loving them.  (In fact I am now wary of trying any other design that has shoulder darts!)  If I make this pattern again, I am going to try to eliminate them by modifying the pattern piece.  I also have an issue with the sleeve cuffs.  I think the size the pattern instructs you to cut (there is no pattern piece) is definitely too skinny. There are actually 2 size options close-fitting and over-sized.  But even the bigger sized ones are too small.  This is a super easy modification but I did want to point it out so if you are making the pattern you can consider cutting them bigger from the get-go.  You might want to taper the sleeve bottoms a bit wider to match (although I did not).  As a reference, I have SUPER skinny wrists and small hands… and they are definitely too tight for me.

My mom was just commenting this weekend about how much she loves this top and how in the french terry it is like wearing pajamas out and about!  I am considering this gift a TOTAL WIN!

MOMMY AND ME RAGLANS

Next up is a pair of coordinating raglans I made for my sister-in-law and niece.

Mommy and Me Raglans by Brenda Zapotosky

I was assigned my sister-in-law Julie for our Christmas gift exchange and I had her show me some of the patterns I have made myself that she would like also.  Then I picked from there.  I chose one of my most TNT (Tried and true) patterns, the Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade!

For the fabric I chose this gorgeous Dear Stella knit.  It was my first time sewing with a Dear Stella fabric and I was super impressed with the quality.  I especially loved that the fabric was the coral color all the way thru with just the scallops being the printing (instead of it have a white back like a lot of printed knits.)  I purchased it through Hawthorne Threads (and I wanted to give them a shout out because I am a big fan of their store) but it is no longer available there.  You can however find it here.  This was a pretty straight forward sew.  I did cuffed 3/4 sleeves, so I did do a custom sleeve length/cuff combo for that.

When I purchased fabric for the Lane I bought a little more than I needed for long sleeves, totally forgetting that Julie said she preferred 3/4 or short sleeves… So I knew I was definitely going to have extra fabric leftover and I thought it would be super adorable to make my niece a top to match her mom’s!  Using the size I thought I needed to make, it turned out that I did NOT have enough to make an entire long-sleeved top from the leftovers.  Believe me, I TRIED!  Multiple patterns and pattern hacks were tested.  I needed to bring in another fabric and this solid white scrap from stash was the best matching fabric I had.  And even with that scrap the Raglan Sweatshirt pattern I chose (from Brindille and Twig) still BARELY fit!  Basically I cut one piece at a time starting from biggest to smallest, maximizing the scraps and barely fitting every piece (except maybe the cuffs)!  In fact, the sleeves did not fit fully, I had to shorten those and use extra tall cuffs to make up the difference.  I used my puzzle solving skills to the max on this one!!!

Nieces Raglan Shirt sewn by Brenda Zapotosky

AND THEN… it turns out… the shirt is WAY TOO BIG ON HER!!!!!!!!!!!  Wah, wah!  Oh well. I’d rather have it too big, because it will fit eventually… but I did long sleeves on purpose so she could wear it now.  Not sure a size smaller would have fit on just the Dear Stella fabric anyways.  So… it is more like a dress.  But I think she likes it, because she has special requested to wear it!  🙂

My plans for nice modeled photos fell thru, twice, but Julie got some photos of them together and I found one that was pretty good.  (Bad lighting so not super clear, but gives you a sense of fit).  I still think they look pretty cute together, even if my niece is swimming in hers!

Mommy and Me Raglans

BONUS PROJECT: FLEECE AND FELT SPOON SLEEVE

 

This super quick little project was a bonus gift for my 2 1/2 year old nephew.  He LOVES cooking!  And he loves REAL cooking tools.  So as a fun little gift I decided to give him his very one “big person” spoon for all his play cooking.  To jazz it up a gift I thought a special holder for it would be fun.  This was created entirely with scraps and entirely on the fly. I just kind of made it up as I went.  The navy is fleece and the orange is a piece of leftover felt from another gift I made my nephew for his first birthday!  (You can see what that was and read all about it in this post).

Fleece Spoonholder by Brenda Zapotosky

The spoon does fit inside completly, I just thought it would be cute to take of photo of it popping out a little!

AND… That’s a wrap!  Phew!  I am finding these blog posts that cover a lot of projects to be a great deal of work!  I hope you enjoyed reading them!  (Because then the work is worth it!)  It is also my 5th blog post this month!  Wow!  I definitely won’t be this prolific all year long.  But I already have my plan for my next blog post and hope to be posting more regularly throughout the year!

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017: PART 1

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Part 1 Rectangle

Today I am excited to finally start sharing with you all the gifts I made for this past Christmas.  I think it is fun to do a post like this, not only to share sewing details, but also to perhaps inspire ideas for handmade gifts. If you want even more inspiration you can read my Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016 post!  I am finding there are A LOT of details to share, so I have decided to break it up into a PART 1 and PART 2 so that the posts are not overwhelmingly long.  Today I will focus of the gifts I made using my own fabric designs, since that always adds an extra layer of information.

It is a tough business sewing for Christmas:  deadline looming, personal projects get delayed or on hold, and you have to keep a lot of secrets!  (really tough for me when I am excited about a make).  Learning a lesson from past years, I started REALLY EARLY this year and yet, somehow STILL found myself down to the wire.  In my defense, I added a few gifts not originally planned AND lost some sewing time I expected to have.  So I was still sewing on Dec. 23!!!  But I got it all done and everything was well received!

NAPKINS AND TRIVETS

Stacked Picnic Napkins by Brenda Zapotosky

First up is a set of cloth napkins and matching trivets I made with one of my own fabric designs:  Picnic (Sunny).  This is actually the newest colorway for this design and I created it specifically with this project in mind.  I chose this print because I think it is a modern take on both plaid and check and perfect for a kitchen.  The colors were picked to match the recipients’ dinnerware.  I really love how this palette turned out and might need to look into offering all the designs in the Flutter Collection in this new colorway.  I ordered 1 yard printed on Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen.

Since this print has a natural cutting point built in, I let the white space breaks in the pattern squares determine my size options for the napkins.  Ultimately I decided to make 8 out of the yard I had.  They turned out a little small… but not unusable, just smaller than you would expect.  (Perhaps I could have made a smaller hem).  This was my first time sewing mitered corners.  32 mitered corners!  Yeah.  That got old pretty quick.  I found this tutorial from Colette very helpful.  I did the sewn and topstitched version.  Below is a zoomed in look at the corners as well as a “styled” photo with silverware.

Picnic Napkins 2 photos by Brenda Zapotosky
Design: Picnic (Sunny), printed on Organic Cotton Sateen by Spoonflower

I had a good sized strip of fabric leftover so I decided to make a few trivets to go along with the set.  I went with a slight rectangle instead of square for two reasons: 1.  I thought they would be a bit more practical for oblong and rectangle serving dishes and 2.  The fabric shrunk more in one direction than the other, so even if I cut it an equal number of design pattern squares wide and long they would not be square.  (In fact the napkins are not exact squares for this very reason.)  I backed the trivets in a light yellow quilting cotton.

Picnic Trivets by Brenda Zapotosky

KIDDO HATS

Checkered Christmas Hats by Brenda Zapotosky 2

These are created from the FREE pattern for the Blizzard Bonnet by sweetkm. It didn’t take long after seeing this project to know that I wanted to make them for my niece and nephew.  They are both 2 1/2 yrs old, born just 3 weeks apart.  It is hard to resist making them something matching and I thought this little hat was so adorable!  Like a little Gnome hat.  In hindsight, maybe I should not have gotten caught up in the cuteness so much, as I am not sure how much they will actually wear these.  (Although my niece did request to wear it at a birthday celebration!  Ha Ha Ha!  It is a party hat!)

They were surprisingly fun to sew up.  Even the bias binding, which I usually loathe, sewed up so well!  I think because it is sewn twice, instead of just sandwiching over it the edge, which made it “ok” to miss the back side edge in places as it was already sewn down.  I actually changed the sewing of the bias tape from the directions.  I first sewed it to the INSIDE of the hat and then flipped it to the outside.  And I edge stitched on the front instead of stitching in the ditch.  Aside from that, the only other change I made was to lengthen the ties.  I do want to note that SIZING  was a conundrum for me.  The toddler size, which is what I consider a 2 1/2 year old to be, look super small to me.  (I sewed up a quick tester with a scrap of fleece.) I ended up making the small child size and it is perfect.  (My mom did do a stealth head measure of my niece for me.)

Checkered Christmas Hat Festive by Brenda Zapotosky

Checkered Christmas Hat Merry by Brenda Zapotosky

I used my own fabric design for this project as well.  I actually created a brand new design: Checkered Christmas, to coordinate with my Classic Christmas Collection.  I ordered 1 fat quarter of both the Festive and Merry colorways on the Lightweight Cotton Twill.  After getting my fat quarters I decided to tweak design a little, so the designs as listed are slightly different than what can be seen on the hats (Same overall look and colors, just in different places).  I used white fleece to line them and Jungle Green bias tape (by Wrights) for all the finishing (That color is a very good match to this print).  Even in the second largest size, thanks to wider width of the fabric, I have a lot of this twill leftover for a future project.

I am ending with two ADORABLE photos of my nephew and niece “modelling” their hats!  Shout out to my brother-in-law Jacob (of The Traveling Photo Booth) for taking these great photos and to my sister Deanna (of DLynn Design) for using her AMAZING Photoshop skills to crop out all the Christmas chaos in these photos!

O and C together in Checkered Christmas Hats

If I left out a detail you would like to know about please ask in the comments!  And stay tuned for PART 2!!!

Thanks for reading,

Brenda

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016

handmade-christmas-gifts-2016
All wrapped up in my gift wrap featuring my design:  Christmas Triangles

I thought it would be fun to do a post sharing all the Christmas gifts I made.  I plan on doing seperate posts detailing a few of the projects so look for those soon.  I was much less ambitious this year than last, which ultimately made the “making” more fun.  It didn’t hurt that I now have a better idea of what I like to sew, so I didn’t take on any project that I would hate.  I also included a non-sewing project gift too.

KIDDO RAGLANS

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2
Fantasy Fish and Butterfly Party fabric designs by Brenda Zapotosky

These will be getting their own post (stay tuned!) so I will keep this brief.  I made my youngest niece and nephew raglan shirts using a few of my own designs.  I was able to get the body pieces cut out of 1 fat quarter each. The rest of the pieces were cut from solids that I also used for other projects, making these shirts not only super cute, but not too expensive either!  I actually gave these at Thanksgiving when my family was in town so that I could see them being opened (and worn!  They both had them on the next day 🙂 Having them finished so early was a nice load lifted off of me in December too.  Since I am planning a separate blog post, I’ll save more detailed photos for later.  Designs:  Fantasy Fish and Butterfly Party (Midnight) Both printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey.

DRAWSTRING BAGS

two-drawstrings-bags-by-brenda-zapotosky-2
Wacky Bicycles and Cool Guitars fabric designs by Brenda Zapotosky

For my dad, I sewed up two drawstring bags.  He is a man of many hobbies and interests and I figured that he could definitely use a few extra bags for a myriad of what-nots.  I chose two designs I thought he’d love (music/guitar playing and bike riding are two of his interests) and had them printed on Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas.  I chose this fabric because it is more heavy-duty than the basic cottons but isn’t super stiff.  It also has a lovely texture. Each used one Fat Quarter.  I have made several drawstring bags now and these are the best so far in terms of construction.  I used french seams and double folded over edges, but there were still a few exposed raw edged ends.  I thing I know how to finally eliminate these (guess I’ll need to sew a few more to make sure!).  For the drawstrings I used parachute cord, which was a totally new material to me.  I wanted something a bit more substantial, maybe even shoelace like, but wasn’t finding what I was picturing, and then I stumbled upon the parachute cord!!!  Given the variety of options the stores had, I’d say it is pretty popular stuff.  I loved that were so many colors to choose from too.  A big change from all my previous drawstring bags was the use of TWO SEPARATE sets of “strings” per bag.  Previously I used just one, so you need to use your hands to help cinch it closed.  By using two sets of strings, each curving opposite of each other, all you have to do is pull on the strings and it closes by itself.  I owe this “eureka” realization to my sister, who was the one who clued me into the secret.  Thanks sis!  My dad loved the bags, so overall:  Success!  Designs:  Wacky Bicycles (Off Road) and Cool Guitars.

PAXSON RAGLAN

christmas-paxson-looks-by-brenda-zapotosky
Paxson Raglan with custom designed fabric label

For my husband, I sewed up a color blocked Paxson Raglan (Pattern from Seamwork Magazine).  This is the second time I had sewed this pattern for him.  The first one was one of my biggest sewing disasters ever! (Check out this post for the horrible “Big Blue”) I stuck with cotton lycra this time, a tried and true substrate I knew I could sew well.  This one, however, was not without its own drama!  Originally I had planned a buffalo plaid for the body panels.  I cut one of them, only to discover that despite my meticulous efforts to cut it straight, the plaid was crooked.  Since I did not have enough left to recut that piece and the second one, I pulled out a piece of fabric from my stash instead.  Fortunately I had enough leftover of this lovely Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey Pepper Heather from a previous project to cut the body pieces.  In the end, I think it ended up better than the original idea.  I love the gray and black together, and the fabrics are more similar in weight.  I have not yet taken any “in action” shots of the shirt being worn, and given its size, I went with partial or folded photos instead, but I think it is enough to give a basic idea of the shirt.  I made a straight size L, which fits pretty well.  I think it could be a tad longer so next time I’ll probably add an inch and I might try smaller SA for the body sides just to give it a tad more room.

(On a side note:  Turns out that plaid fabric is printed incorrectly, so it was NEVER going to have been straight.)

TWO-SIDE MINI-COWL

kiku-winter-mini-cowl-by-brenda-zapotosky-words

I have sewn a lot of mini-cowls (both one fabric and two fabric versions) for gifts in the past.  This year I only ended up gifting one.  I actually made 2, since I bought a fat quarter of each design and that is enough to make two two-sided cowls.  One I gave to my mom. The other I kept for myself.  🙂  My mom only had one so far, and I know how much she loves it, so I wanted her to have another one.  For the prints I picked the Winter version of my Kiku Garden design and the coordinating print, Kiku Pops Twilight.

NOT-SO-KNOTTED TOTE

notso-tote-4-by-brenda-zapotosky
Geometric Cactus Flowers fabric design by Brenda Zapotosky

This was my 4th time making a variation of this bag.  (To see my first and learn about how it got its peculiar name check out this post).   I made this for my sister.  I have a full blog post planned for this one too, so I’ll save all the details and more photos for then.  The exterior fabric is the “Shadow” colorway of my Geometric Cactus Flower design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Poplin.

VACATION PHOTO BOOK

san-diego-photo-book-by-brenda-zapotosky

This is not a sewing project, but I do consider it a handmade gift (even though it was “manufactured” elsewhere) since I put in a lot of time designing and creating it!  In October 2013, my family celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday with a meet-up vacation in Southern California (we are currently living in 3 different states).  I was obviously way delayed in getting this book together, but I knew my mom and step-dad who wouldn’t make these books themselves would love a memoir of the trip with our collection of photos all together.  It was a big undertaking, but worth all the time, because they loved it!  And thanks to my coupon savvy I was able to get this book and a copy for my myself for a pretty good price too!

That’s it folks! I hope you have enjoyed seeing on my 2016 Christmas gift makes.  Maybe I even inspired a future project idea too!

Brenda