Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Progress

I feel like I haven't completed anything in quite a while. However, I've started my latest knitting project three times, and it's presently still a ball of string. I'm trying to make le petit sac. The first time I cast on, I missed a plain knit stitch on the first pattern row and had to start again. I struggled mightily trying to make do with the only pair of size 2 needles I have, an Addi Turbo circular that's too slippery for linen and too long for the project, and finally after messing up too badly to fix it, I gave up and bought a 16" bamboo needle. Then I messed up because the frogged yarn has lost its twist and is splitty. I'm going to cast on a fourth time with fresh yarn and bamboo needles because I really want that bag, although I plan to line it because even though it's knit at a small gauge, the pattern stitch still has yarn overs, and not lining it seems a good way to ruin it way more quickly than I'm able to knit it.

So fighting with that yarn has eaten up quite a bit of my crafting time, with nothing to show for it. I did finish one thing, but all I had to do was install a snap.

I really, really like it! This fits more snugly than the first one I made. My daughter immediately tried to claim it, so I agreed to make one that's toddler sized, using the same blue fabric but embroidering one pink and purple butterfly in the center. "Do that right now," she said. I swear, my kids think I'm some sort of short-order crafter. I've told my boys that if anyone asks what their mother does, simply to say, "She makes things."

Speaking of my daughter, I was making quick progress on her rainbow girls (until I took a break to ruin some nice linen yarn).
I picked it up again last night and began the blue girl. The plan is to make bean bags with them, sewing each girl onto her own bag. That way, G can carry them around with her, which is what she wants to do. (Thanks so much to Wendi for the bean bag suggestion!) So you can see that when I'm done with the embroidery part, I still have some work to do on the sewing machine.

I'm also waiting for an order from Dick Blick that will have way more stuff than I have time to use. While I wait, I've been reading Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate. The instructors from the printmaking class I took had a copy and said it was THE book on the process, but it's out of print and used copies start at about $60. So I requested a copy through our library system--there are three copies in the state--and I read it straight through then started again at the beginning, in hopes that it sort of buries itself in my brain. I plan to take notes too, of course. A gelatin plate is just that, a printing plate made from unflavored gelatin. In other words, something easy enough to do at home and safe enough to do with kids. I do a lot of art activities with my kids (although school is a huge time suck, in my opinion). I am brewing lots of ideas for all of us.

Now, though, it's time to turn on some baseball and decide what to work on tonight. Another go with the yarn? Or the satisfaction of finishing the blue girl first? I think I'll go for the sure thing...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Post at Sunflower

With my kids in the studio hat on, I'm guest posting at Sunflower Creative Arts today. I was delighted to be asked to contribute to their "I Was That Kid" series. How to choose what, in our childhood, most shapes the adult we become? I'm not sure. I could have written a dozen very different pieces that were all accurate. You can read the one I did write here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial: Sewn & Embroidered Wrist Cuffs

I had an idea in my head for a fabric cuff bracelet, and the only way to get ideas out of my head is to try them out. On the third try, I got something I was happy with.

One of the things I like most about this project is how customizable it is, not to mention easy, and you don't need a sewing machine. In fact, my first try was machine-sewn and I didn't like it at all, so I switched to hand-sewing the entire thing. At any rate, without further ado, here's what you need:

Fabric for front of cuff and back of cuff--these can be the same, or not
Interfacing--I used thin flannel in a neutral color
Thread, needle, pins
Cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter--optional, but they help make clean, straight lines
Embroidery floss

1. Decide how big you want your cuff to be. I have thin wrists, so I decided on 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, and I think I could have gone shorter. Add 1/2" to each measurement to account for 1/4" seam allowance on all sides, and cut strips from your front, back, and interfacing fabric. So I cut three strips each 9 1/2" by 2". If you want your front to be two fabrics, like in the photo, cut two coordinating strips for the front, for a total of four strips.

(Note: I have one extra strip, the muslin one, in this photo.)

2. For the front of my cuff, I wanted both green and purple, and I wanted them stitched together. So I sliced up a strip of each color with a straight edge and my rotary cutter.

3. Then I arranged the cut pieces on the alternate color strip until I was happy with it. Line up your side edges neatly. I used four strands of embroidery floss and the blanket stitch to sew the contrasting pieces to the main strip. I didn't turn the edges under; I was after a bit of raw edge. The blanket stitch isn't going to let it fray dangerously, just enough to give it a nice slightly deconstructed look. Use whatever edge-appropriate decorative embroidery stitch you'd like.

(Here, I was stitching purple onto green. Remember, I did this three times before I was happy!)

4. Sandwich your strips to prepare to sew them together. You want your right sides facing and the interfacing on the outside, so it will end up on the inside when you turn your tube. I like to arrange it with the interfacing on the bottom, the bottom piece right side up, then the top embroidered piece right side down. Pin it all together with a few pins and sew around both long edges and one short edge, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance all around. (I used the two leftover strands from the blanket stitch, because I hate having stray strands lying around!) Don't stitch right to the end of the open edge; it will make it easier to turn the edges under later if you don't. I like to sew with the wrong side of the embroidered piece facing me. It helps me keep everything straight, since I'm (sort of) looking at the public side of the cuff while I sew.

5. Turn your tube right side out and press the seams flat. Turn the raw edges under, press, and slip stitch closed, burying the loose end in the seam when you're done.

6. Fit it around your wrist to figure your snap placement and then use this wonderful tutorial to attach your snaps. Think carefully about orientation. This is what the snaps look like on mine, front and back.

(When I realized I'd be working this idea out a few times, I switched
to muslin for the back.)

Alternately, you could use a button and a buttonhole, or a button and a loop, or some other method of closure that I haven't thought of. And instead of piecing the top, you could use one solid piece decorated with buttons or embroidery or anything else you want. (Lace? Ribbons? Rick-rack?) I recently finished this slightly shorter one (although I haven't installed the snap yet).

It's the same fabric front and back, with a spring-like doodle of flowers embroidered on the front. Although it's so easy to turn your own doodles into embroidery, I'm including my doodles here for you. (This is the first time I've linked to an uploaded PDF in Google Docs, so let me know if you have problems with it.)

I think I will be making many, many more of these! I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or email me: SalamanderDreams21(at)gmail(dot)com.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Trio of Books

Three finished books from the printmaking and bookbinding class I took over the last two Saturdays. I have one more in the works, but it will take a little longer, I think, and of course I have loads of ideas! At any rate, from left to right... the little one is made from one of the prints from last week.

It's a very simple construction, made by folding the paper and cutting along some folds but not others. The instructors called this version a "maze book." I found instructions for it in one of the bookbinding books I own, How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith, where it is referred to as a variation of accordion book. Here's a photo with my hand in it, to give you a sense of size.

One of the really nice bits about making this book from a larger print is discovering the compositions that result when you cut it up and make it small. Different parts of the whole are isolated, revealing (hopefully good) surprises. It's quite liberating to slice up your artwork.

The spread-out book in the main photo is an origami book made from three sheets of folded rice paper glued together so they form one larger tricky-looking folded construction. But it's not tricky, of course, once you know how to do it.

These pages were printed twice, first in a gelatin print process and then using the press with a plate made from drawing on an acetate plate with a hot glue gun. When the glue dries, it's hard and raised, so you can make a print from it. The "ABC" images are from the glue plate. I love this idea, and it's something we can definitely do at home. The origami book folds up flat, and its front and back covers are made from boards covered with two more prints from the series.

The third book is another accordion fold book, with pockets. This is made simply by folding the paper back and forth.

It's meant to hold pieces of prints, as a means of displaying them, but the pockets are empty right now. I glued a few pieces together to increase the number of pockets. If I were to do this again, I'd attach three short lengths of ribbon in between the covers to form a hinge on the back spine so that it opens more like a book. I suppose then it wouldn't strictly be an accordion anymore?

If you're unfamiliar with bookbinding, I can tell you that all three of these books are very simple to put together, requiring only boards, paper, and paste. (I learned a new trick! Applying the Yes Paste with half a credit card, to scrape on a thin, even layer. Much easier than using a paintbrush to cover the boards, although I still like a brush for the flaps of paper that fold over the edge on the inside.) None of these have sewn bindings. The maze-accordion book can be folded up in a few minutes.

If you're interested in bookbinding, the book linked above is a good place to start. My kids and I also like the same author's Magic Books and Paper Toys.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Nearly) Nothing But Mitts

It's been a while since I've seen something I really wanted to knit, so in the meantime, in between sewing and embroidery projects, I've been using up leftovers of Cascade 220 to make fingerless mitts. As long as I have 55 grams, I can make a pair of Evangelines, modified just the way I like them (a little bit wider, and with a thumb gusset).

(Really, these mitts look so much better on hands.)

This picture is missing the ruby red pair I already dropped off to school for the silent auction. I've lost count of how many times I've knitted this pattern, but it's so many that it's basically mindless knitting for me, even with that cable chart--which is very intuitive and not that hard to begin with. I tried another pattern recently, and I'm sure the pattern itself was fine, but it wasn't this pattern, and I lost track during the thumb gusset increases and missed a cable cross and finally admitted to myself that, darn it, I like the pattern I like and I really don't need to branch out. So I frogged those and used the yarn to make the blue mitts at the end of the row there.

So what am I going to do with them all? (Because I still have leftover Cascade 220 in a couple other colors.) I put them in the bin to save until December, when they make good teacher gifts or bus driver gifts or oops! I need a last-minute gift gifts. I already gave a pair to each of my boys' teachers, and my younger son's teacher had them on almost every day at pick-up (doesn't a knitter love that!). She told me that in all her teaching years, no-one had ever knitted her something. I sort of have the idea that by the time my youngest is out of this school, I'll have given everyone with significant contact with my children something handknit. I have twelve more years, so I think this is a completely reasonable goal.

I did knit something else this past week. For the second printmaking class, we were told to bring something in with texture to use while making gelatin prints. So, of course, I figured I'd knit a bit of lace.

That's Roman Stripe from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, knit in, I think, some Euroflax Linen, and after Saturday it will be completely useless as a piece of knitting, because it will be inky and, I assume, gelatin-y. Quite okay. It seems right that my prints should reflect my fibery interests as well.

But just recently, a pattern finally caught my eye, and the yarn to make it is winging its way here. So I'll probably abandon my stash-busting mitt-making in a day or so and start something new.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DIY: Textured ABCs

This was a popular post on my old blog, so I thought I'd repeat it here. I made these sandpaper letters for my younger son more than three years ago and they're still in fine shape. He's now almost seven and still likes to make rubbings every now and then with these; his younger sister is 2 1/2 and likes these letters as well. We use them as manipulatives in the true sense: my children hold them, spell with them, make rubbings and drawings with them. My goal was to have big, textured letters they could play with. I have absolutely no background in Montessori education, nor much knowledge of it; the only similarity between these and the Montessori sandpaper letters, as far as I know, is that these also use sandpaper.

Computer paper (for printing)
5 sheets 9"x11" fine (150 grit) sandpaper
18"x24" illustration board
Heavy-duty craft knife
Yes! Paste or similar paste
Helpful to have: Finer x-acto knife; cutting mat; metal ruler

I wanted a simple, almost blocky font. I started by Googling for "outline font" and settled on "le mans," found here. (I adjusted the "I" and "J" by hand a bit, so the "I" didn't look like an "l" and so the "J" had a more pronounced curve.) I printed the alphabet in capital letters at 325-pt font (usually 4 to a page). I then cut out each letter individually and placed them face down on the back of the sandpaper. (Because you want the letter to appear correctly when looking at the rough side.) Trace with a pencil.

Cut out the letters from the sandpaper. You may want to use an old pair of scissors for this, as they won't be much use for cutting anything else when you're done. I used the x-acto knife to cut out the insides of letters such as "A" and "R."

I then traced each letter onto the illustration board. Mine was white on both sides, so it didn't matter which way I traced, but I found it easier to trace face down again so that the edges of the sandpaper didn't shave my pencil to bits. To cut out the illustration board, you'll need to use the heavy duty craft knife and the cutting mat, as it's not easy to cut. I used the metal ruler for the straight edges (position your blade against the metal and follow its edge down the line). For the curves, I first scored gently and slowly worked my way through the layers; the x-acto knife is better for this, although I could sometimes finish it off with the heavy-duty knife. I did this in batches, because it does get tiring.

Once all the letters were cut, I brushed the paste onto the illustration board letter and smoothed the sandpaper letter on top. Sandwich the letters face down in between sheets of wax paper and press them under heavy books. Allow to dry at least overnight.

Typically the Montessori letters are pasted onto rectangles, color coded for vowels and consonants. That would certainly be easier to cut out of illustration board, but it didn't suit our needs. I want my son to be able to hold the letter and feel its shape around all the edges, not just on the top surface. But you could finish these any way you choose.

Have fun!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sewn Bunny Softies

Look at those guys! Aren't they cute? I was lucky enough to win (completely unexpectedly!) the pattern when Wendi Gratz decided to give things away on her birthday. I had my choice, so I sat my two-year-old on my lap to get her input. It was a tough decision between the bunny and the bear, but the bunny prevailed.

I've been making things in sets of two for a long time--first, for my two boys, and now, for my younger two children, since my oldest, a nine-year-old boy, really doesn't have strong feelings on whether he gets a stuffed bunny softie. But I knew I'd have to make two of these. Also, since my daughter picked out the pattern, I didn't feel a need to keep my craftiness a secret. They knew the bunnies were coming. I did want to get them done before Easter, although I wasn't going to make them wait for them.

The fabric on the inside of my son's bunny's ears matches one side of his curtains (you can see that better in the main pic above). My daughter's bunny's ear linings are left over from a bundle that I used for project bags a long while ago.

(The girl does not stay still!) The main fabric is from jammie pants I made my boys shortly before my daughter was born. I stuffed these pretty softly with wool. I have a feeling they might get misshapen after a time, but I can always unpick the hand-sewn closure and add a bit more stuffing later on.

And you can see why I didn't make them wait until Easter, can't you?! The bunnies came with us to the supermarket today. They are already much-loved bunnies!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Printmaking Class

Class was SO COOL! I felt positively giddy; I haven't done anything like that in so long. I admit to a little bit of apprehension beforehand, but that went away quickly. I understand color; I understand composition; and I was excited to realize I'd already done some of what we tried (on a much more modest level, of course) with my own kids. I'd never used a printing press before though. Super cool.

We were making monotypes, working with thin Plexiglas plates to which we added a thin coating of paint with a brayer. Once the paint was on, we could draw in it, add different elements to create texture or prevent the ink from reaching the paper, or a combination... it was like collage in a way. This is my first print:

I began with red, blue, and yellow paint, preferring to mix the colors myself. The large circles were made by pressing bubble wrap onto the plate and then removing it, before printing. I think I also used wine corks and, um, some other circular items. It's hard to remember exactly what went on when. To make the print, you put the plate in the press, lay the paper over it, sandwich it in newsprint and cover it with blankets, then turn a big wheel to pass the roller over the whole thing, squishing it all together. (That's a very technical description, isn't it?!)

With this one, I built on what was left on the plate after the first run-through. The line was made by placing a piece of yarn on the plate and leaving it there while it went through the press--that prevents the ink from reaching the paper, leaving a white line. This next image is a ghost:

That's when  you leave the plate in the press and don't add any more ink before running it through again. So it gets a lighter version of the first image. I took the yarn off first, so the ink that was squished against the yarn the first time shows up darker against the paper on the second run-through.

And one more, still using the same primary colors, but mixed a little differently. I applied the paint with a smaller brayer, trying for a blockier effect. There's some vegetable netting in there, and some more yarn. The smaller dots were made with a Lego.

We were encouraged just to play and see what happened, not to get all precious about it (in other words, not to get hung up trying for something perfect). No problem there! That's basically what I'm telling my kids about art all the time. It's so much better when you're relaxed and experimenting, open to seeing what happens, especially when learning a new technique. Next week we're slicing these up anyway to make books.

My only issue is... how do I do this at home without a printing press!?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick Little Pincushion

Remember how I said my pincushion is a mess? What a good excuse to make a second one.

(This is the best photo of the bunch--something about the color of this felt confused the heck out of the camera. The color is true, so we'll have to put up with that little flash reflection.)

I was poking around in books and online, wondering what kind of pincushion to make, and I saw Thomas Knauer's embroidery designs over at Sew, Mama, Sew. I don't particularly want to make teapot trivets, but I'm fond of elephants. So I isolated one of them, added stripes, and thought he'd look quite handsome on some felt from my surprisingly large felt stash. I used tear-away stabilizer for this, and after embroidering, I cut two squarish shapes with pinking shears. I sewed them together with running stitch, stuffed with wool, then finished sewing.

Presto! Quick little pincushion. He's so cute I haven't put pins in him yet, though, which is just as well, because my two youngest keep trying to abscond with him. I wouldn't want them to get poked.

Big day tomorrow! I'll be at the first session of a two-part class covering printmaking and bookbinding techniques. This will be the longest I've ever been away from my still-nursing toddler--about 5 1/2 hours--and I'm a little idgety about it, but also pretty excited, because I haven't been able to do something like this in a really long time. Hopefully I'll have lots to share after the weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Embroidered Needle Book

Not long after I began to embroider, I realized it would be really, really handy to have a place to stick my embroidery needles. My one (at that time) pincushion is a mess of pins and sewing needles, and I wanted to keep the embroidery ones separate. Obviously, I needed a needle book. Meanwhile, I'd discovered Wendi Gratz's Rainbow Girls via Mr. X Stitch. My daughter and I both fell headlong for those little girls. I decided I'd make one the cover of a needle book, and my daughter selected the Yellow Girl.

The way she was leaning, along with her sunburst hair, she reminded me of a flower, so I decided to stitch her bottom in stem colors and keep her top yellow and flowery. I stitched her on linen first and then cut one cover piece from the linen, with an inside piece of yellow flannel.

I sewed those pieces right sides together, with the ribbon sandwiched in between, hidden on the inside. When I turned the cover rightsides out, there were my ribbons, ready to act as a tie closure. (Just make sure you fold the ribbon over so you don't accidentally stitch the free end to the opposite seam! The ribbon pieces are longer than the book is wide.)

Then I added a piece of green felt and sewed down the fold with embroidery floss to make an easy binding.

And my daughter has been trying to take off with "her" girl ever since, so I'm embroidering all six girls into something special just for her.

I adore Wendi's Shiny Happy World Shop. It's full of cute little projects aimed to help everybody learn to sew and embroider, and many of them are free. If you're teaching a child to sew or learning yourself, her blog is quite a resource. More projects from her shop will be featured here as soon as I finish them!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poetry Jeans

A little over a month ago, I saw this embroidered snippet of poetry on Cornflower Blue and instantaneously thought I need to learn how to embroider so I can embroider poetry on my jeans. It feels that way, anyway. I was thinking of learning before that, but I'm pretty sure it had never occurred to me before that there was a way of getting words onto my clothes with thread. I know. Pretty slow of me.

Well, by the end of March, with several days to spare before the beginning of National Poetry Month, I'd finished this:

"I have heard the mermaids singing," a snippet from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot, which has long been a favorite poem of mine. Now, it's on. my. jeans. I can't get over how cool I feel.

As is usual for me, the desire for the finished product sparked learning a new process, and truly, I didn't know how to do anything but the occasional running stitch or wonky back stitch before I decided to do this. I began by requesting several library books, and the first stitch I practiced was chain stitch, by embroidering a purple spiral onto a scrap piece of patterned denim to make a patch (for the opposite knee of these same jeans; they're a bit bohemian by this point!). I practiced outline stitch for lettering and decided it was too bulky for my liking, then backstitched a line of poetry from e. e. cummings onto a piece of linen:

The sea star is printed with acrylic from a hand-carved stamp and outlined in chain stitch, and I still haven't decided what to do with this. By this point I'd decided that, at least for now, I'm better off printing the text on the computer instead of trying to embroider my own handwriting. (That's Bradley Hand ITC.)

And yet, when it came time to do the jeans, I tried to do my own handwriting again, because it's impossible to trace through denim. It was also impossible to see anything I tried to write on denim, no matter what method I tried, so I ended up printing from the computer, tracing onto tear-away interfacing, and embroidering through both (ie, this method from Sublime Stitching). Then when I finished I sat there and picked away itty bitty pieces of stabilizer with a pair of tweezers, and it was so, so worth it. I am so enthralled with the poetry on my jeans. (It runs down the outside of my right leg, by the way, from just below the knee to just above the cuff.)

I don't think I'm done with embroidering poetry. I'm definitely not done with embroidery itself; I've fallen down that rabbit hole big time. Would you ever embroider poetry on your clothing? If so, what?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cheap, Quick, and Easy

We're talking curtains here, people. Don't you love sewing curtains? So easy. This curtain right here, for the downstairs bathroom, cost all of five dollars:

There's a huge fabric store almost an hour north of us, and this fabric was five dollars per yard. (If we'd found something in the bargain area, it would have been two dollars per yard.) Because I only wanted one curtain to go across the top of the window, a yard was enough. I cut it in half, making sure to keep the pattern running correctly, and sewed a piece onto the full yard strip to get enough fullness in the window.

Oh, it might look like zebra stripes, but, um, no. Look closer:

Do you see? They're trunks of birch trees. Aren't they awesome?! The bathroom has grey walls and red trim, and I had my heart set on a black and white pattern of some sort. This curtain is simply a wide rectangle, with the side edges finished, the bottom hemmed, and a casing at the top. Super easy, super quick.

The other room in need of curtains was my son's. His walls are blue, and the trim is a darker blue, and all together it looks really nice. He was having a hard time picking out fabric, though. Finally he saw some he liked, but he couldn't decide between two prints. I like bedroom curtains to be lined with muslin so the room stays darker for sleeping--and by "lined" I don't mean anything at all fancy, just sewing the print to the muslin, turning it right side out, and pressing the seams flat. So I suggested to him that I could make his curtains reversible. He liked that idea.

This is two different photos squished together, and that's why the colors are different. For a true-to-color swatch of this fabric, look to the salamander in the header--I used scraps from the two fabrics my son chose for his curtains. Right now he has the light-blue star fabric facing inwards towards his room. (The dark blue is slightly sparkly, like stars in a deep night sky; it's hard to see onscreen.) To make them truly reversible, I couldn't make just a simple casing at the top, because there would be a wrong side. So I decided to do tabs, alternating the two fabrics, so you'd always see at least a peek of the alternate side.

First, I had my husband hang the rod so I could measure accurately, because this window has a ledge underneath it and I didn't want it to be any longer than skimming length. I decided how long to make the tabs and cut the main piece accordingly--a rectangle from each fabric for each curtain, sewed right sides together around the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. (The width of each curtain equals the window width, so together they are twice as wide.)

For the tabs, I cut out five strips from each fabric, about 5.5" by 6" (with 5.5" being the length and 6 the width). I folded them in half, right sides together, and sewed down the open edge. Then I turned them right sides out, ironed the tab flat with the seam in the center back, and folded each tab in half (hiding the seam on the inside). I turned the curtains right side out, ironed them, folded under the top edge of the curtain, and spaced out the tabs, pinning in place. Then I simply sewed the top shut, sandwiching the tabs inside.

I have to say, I am ridiculously pleased with these curtains. They are super cute, exactly what my son wanted, fit the window perfectly, and they cost a mere twenty dollars (two yards of each fabric). I'm not sure anything pays for the cost of a sewing machine quite like curtains!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sparkly Toddler Skirt

A few months ago I was in one of the big-box stores (okay, Joann's) and my daughter saw some sparkly blue fabric. Maybe a week or so later, we went back to buy some. I was thinking skirt. Actually, I don't know WHAT I was thinking, because I've sewn with this fashion fabric type stuff before, and it wasn't fun. But she really, really liked it, and I really like her, so I decided I would figure out the skirt part. A tiered, ruffly skirt, I thought. Sure! I bought some plain blue satiny stuff for the underlayer, since the sparkly stuff was so sheer. I could totally do this!

And the fabric sat in the corner for weeks and weeks. Periodically I would shoot a guilty glance its way. The sparkly fabric the girl loved, hidden in a bag. Still.

Then I thought, well, maybe... a superhero cape? That would be easier, right?

What was holding me back? Two things. First, I was wary of the way this sort of fabric unravels when you breathe on it. Second, I've never done gathers before, and I didn't think it would be smart to have my first attempt be on slippery fabric. When I saw the recent MADE tutorial for an easy skirt, I decided I could adjust my expectations for this skirt, because my daughter is two. All the pressure was coming from me.

And of course, she loved it so much that as soon as it was done she had to put it on over her pajamas! (I have no really good photos. Maybe if I'd duct taped her in place...)

I varied somewhat from the MADE tutorial. Both my layers are the same length, because really, here, we're interested in the sparkly. Not having a serger and being so worried about those edges, I made sure to bury them all, so for the side seams in both layers I used flat seams. This isn't the most delicate seam for such light fabric, I'm sure, but it enclosed the raw edge.

For the casing, I sewed the skirts together at the top, then zigzagged the raw edges--although I'm not sure that didn't just make things worse. The sparkly fabric actually frayed much less than the plain satiny stuff, which shed fuzz everywhere. Those edges are enclosed inside the casing; I just hope they're stable enough.

And that's it, pretty much. When my daughter woke up the next morning, I adjusted the elastic to fit and then sewed it all shut, which is when she insisted on putting it on over her pajamas. And because I was originally thinking tiers, I have enough fabric to make her a superhero cape, too (I'm thinking in the plain blue, with a floating layer of sparkles).

Here's an action shot of her later in the day, wearing her skirt as she helps her dad tape off the edges in her new room, which will soon be painted purple. It's a good running skirt. And a good lesson for the sewing mama--there's no need to make things more complicated than they have to be. The girl wanted a sparkly skirt, and the girl has a sparkly skirt. Success!