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

Alphabet Animal Art Challenge: N-S

Hi folks!  I am back with the third recap in my year-long Alphabet Animal Art Challenge. 3/4 of the way through!  If this is your first time learning about the challenge you can see my original post here.  And recaps 1 and 2 here and here.

Let’s start with a look at the 6 animals I created for this portion of the challenge:

Alphabet Animals Letters N to S by Brenda Zapotosky

3 birds and 2 sea creatures in the mix. Very interesting.  Not sure if I can narrow down a favorite.  Instead I’ll make it a tie and choose both the nautilus and the peacock!  Here is a closer look at both of those:

N is for Nautilus by Brenda Zapotosky

P is for Peacock by Brenda Zapotosky

I don’t know how “marketable” the nautilus is to use for other things, but I just love him! The peacock on the other hand would be fun to incorporate into a pattern or a card.  I particularly love his fat belly and his feathers!  I could see a coordinating pattern using just those ovals from his feathers.

I have used one of the animals so far in a greeting card design.  The owl!  Here is a look at the super cute birthday card I designed in 2 colorways:

Owl Birthday Cards by Brenda Zapotosky

I especially love the new colorway I did for the second card with the pink and teal.  It would be fun to do a whimsical geometric owl collection using these two colorways.

Final thoughts:

This round was the same as most of the rest in that some animals were easier than others.  I write about my thoughts about each creation individually when I post them on my Instagram feed so I won’t bother rehashing that here.  One thing that is interesting:  I did not give any of these animals names!  I am big time into naming things so it is a little bit surprising that not even one was named.

With only 7 letters left, I anticipate some challenges in this final quarter.  I normally don’t research the next letter until I am ready to do my prompt post shortly before the Sunday I post it, so I really haven’t looked to see what my selection will be for the upcoming letters.  I can think of a few, but not many.  I have a hunch it will be slim pickings and possibly some creativity involved to get an animal for the rest of the letters (or else being force to draw something either really obscure or not very fun). The adventure continues!

I guess that wraps it up!  I’d love to hear from you in the comments.  Which animal was your favorite this round?

As always, thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

A Fabric Design Tale

This post is a tale of sorts, of two whimsical designs that began as hand drawings and were transformed into fabric.  An appropriate title could have been: From Pen and Ink Hand Drawings to Seamless Patterns to Printed Fabric to Sewing Creations. But that is a lot of words. Hence:  A Fabric Design Tale 🙂

If you read my previous post then you already know that for Christmas 2016 I made my youngest niece and nephew each a raglan tee using my fabric designs.  Both began as hand drawings and so I thought it would be fun to share the process (since it was different for both) in how I transformed those into the fabric and ultimately a finished sewing project.

Fantasy Fish

fantasy-fish-promo-pattern-by-brenda-zapotosky

For my nephew I chose my Fantasy Fish pattern.  I originally created this design for the Great Barrier Reef themed contest on Spoonflower.  This was still in the beginning stages of my learning Adobe Illustrator and creating patterns. For this pattern I wanted to have all the elements inter-connected and I wasn’t yet sure how to do that in AI, so I stuck with Photoshop to create the entire pattern.  To do this I began by drawing a base design by hand, scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then using the offset function split the design apart.  I then printed the split apart design and drew in more elements to start to fill the space.  I had to do this several times before I had the entire piece filled in and the full pattern tile created.  Below you can see some of the stages of the pattern.

fantasy-fish-pattern-progression-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

I chose to have the design printed on Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex Jersey since I would be pairing it with Cotton Spandex Solids purchased elsewhere and I wanted the fabric types to be as close as possible.

fantasy-fish-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

I love how it looks printed out!

Butterfly Party (Midnight)

butterfly-party-midnight-by-brenda-zapotosky-promo

For my niece, I chose the Butterfly Party design, Midnight color version from my Flutter Collection.  I created this design from a doodle I drew in one of my doodle sketchbooks long before I ever started created surface patterns.

butterfly-doodle-by-brenda-zapotosky

Since I never intended this drawing to be a seamless pattern when I created it, I decided to use the elements as components in a new design instead of converting the original composition to be seamless.  For this design, I used the auto-trace function in Adobe Illustrator to render the elements as vector.  From there I did A LOT of clean-up, modifications and redrawing.  In fact sometimes I do so much editing of a traced design that I wonder if it wouldn’t be faster to just redraw all the elements manually.  I do like, however, how auto trace gives a bit more of the hand-drawn feeling and for this print I think it really works.  While I love the black infill with the butterfly silhouettes and polka-dots on the original doodle, I thought it was too busy for the pattern version so I decided to eliminate it.  Instead I used some of the little butterflies to create a coordinating pattern.

delicate-delights-four-colors-small-by-brenda-zapotosky
Delicate Delights design in 4 different colorways.

You can find these little butterflies and many other coordinating prints in the Flutter Collection on Spoonflower.  And here is a look of the fabric (also printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey):

 

butterfly-party-by-brenda-zapotosky-fabric-photo

 

Raglan Tees

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-2

I used the same pattern for both tees, the Raglan Sweatshirt 015 from Brindle and Twig. Since the kids are so close in age, I was able to use the same size for both of them!  For each shirt I was able to fit the body pieces on one fat quarter of the Spoonflower fabric and used solid fabric leftover from other projects for all the rest of the pieces.  (Huge perk of sewing for littles!!!)  I chose black for the fishes since there is already black in the design and I love how it makes the colors really pop.  For the butterflies I used this aqua I had in my stash that I was happy to see matched so well!  I was a bit concerned about the arms being lighter than the body (I guess when I think of raglans I usually think the darker color as the arms and bands) but I think it adds a lovely brightness!

butterfly-party-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

fantasy-fish-raglan-tee-by-brenda-zapotosky-with-words

For the most part I thought this was a good pattern.  I was surprised at the size of all the bands, which seemed a little small in diameter to me.  I change almost all of them to be a little bit bigger after I sewed the first one (I THINK the neckband on the butterfly shirt is the only place where the band is cut to the pattern size).  I would definitely keep this change in the future.  It made it easier to sew and was still not too big. I made the butterfly raglan first so the tweaks on the fish one reflect what I learned from the first.  My only other complaint is with the pdf assembly.  I found that the aligning box on the pdfs to be a bit confusing.  Perhaps it would not be to someone else, but I thought I would mention it.  I will say that Melissa from Brindle and Twig was very kind and receptive to my feedback when I emailed her, which is huge bonus points in her favor!!!  Customer service and communication goes a long way in my book. I also like the very large size range that comes with the pattern.  I could make these for several more years before the kids will be too big for the pattern.

So there you have it!  A look at the progression of a design from the very beginings to a final finished project!  I’ll end with a couple of detail close-ups.

kiddo-raglans-by-brenda-zapotosky-details

And as always,

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

 

 

Sammy the Whale and Friends Plushie Project

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-title-photo-smaller

I’m an aunt to a lot of littles and not-so-littles.  In fact I have 16 nieces and nephews between my and my husband’s side of the family.  The most recent additions, one girl and one boy, are cousins born just a few weeks apart.  For their first birthdays (which were late spring/early summer, I am WAY behind on this blog post) I decided to dive into the world of plushie sewing!  I have seen so many cute projects by others and I had the perfect character already in my library in which to create my plushies:  Sammy the Whale!  I first created Sammy for my original Whales and Waves Pattern for a contest on Spoonflower.  I have since created 3 other colorways of the design as well as a second pattern that features Sammy in a new way.  (You can find all the designs in this Collection).  For this cut-and-sew version I enlarged Sammy and a few of his fishy friends to make some fun plush play toys for the kiddos. (Side note:  I did not plan this photo shoot very well and gifted the items before realizing I could have used a few close-ups etc. I apologize in advance for not having detail photos).

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-plushie-with-words-seaside

 

I definitely learned a lot by sewing these, (including the slip-stitch.  So nifty!) But mainly, that I do NOT like sewing plushies!  I had to do a lot of reshaping of the outline to get Sammy’s tail and curve looking nice which was rather frustrating.  The GOOD NEWS is, because I sewed these, I was able to tweak the original design so that they will now be much easier to sew!  The plushies you see here in this post are VERSION 1.  Version 2, which are listed in my shop, have softer, easier to sew curved outlines and more space between the dashed edges and the characters.  So your finished version will have more white space around your sea creatures. I also added a third polka-dot fish!

To supplement my printed fish I decided to add a few extra fish made out of felt.  To create these I traced the outside of the fish onto 2 pieces of felt and 1 piece slightly smaller out of thin quilt batting.  I sandwiched them together and stitched the outline near the edge and then used a wavy stitch on my machine to create ripples on the body.  Using this wavy stitch might have been my favorite part of the project!  I used just one standard little sheet of felt from the craft store and was able to get 2 fish from it.

sammy-the-whale-and-friends-pinky-by-brenda-zapotosky

Construction:  Since I used a lightweight fabric, I chose to add fusible fleece to all the character pieces to give them more structure and pad them from potential stuffing lumps. Then simply stuffed them to desired firmness with loose fill.

Lastly I created a matching drawstring bag to hold all the little critters.  I used one fat quarter of the color coordinating versions of my Confetti Fish print:  Confetti Fish (Seaside) and Confetti Fish (Pinky).  I chose the Basic Cotton Ultra for mine, but if you go for a wider fabric you’ll get a wider bag too.  There are several other prints in the Collection that would work for the bag as well.

BONUS:  I wanted this project to work on ANY of the Spoonflower fabrics.  So I sized it to be 21″ wide to fit the Whale and 3 Little Fish.  If you order a wider fabric you will also get a BONUS character:  Jeremy the Jellyfish!  Here is a look at the 2 widths.  It is all the same listing, and available in both colorways, you will see the jellyfish appear when you pick a wider fabric.  (My version was made with the Basic Cotton Ultra).

whales-cut-and-sew-two-sizes-by-brenda-zapotosky

I was very happy with how these turned out in the end (and they were very light and easy to ship!) but I won’t be making plushies again anytime soon… maybe ever. he he he

Thanks for reading!

Brenda