Just have to love mass produced patterns….

Just one of the many reasons why I will not make an commissioned outfit directly from a mass produced pattern…

So, I fell into the trap.  I admit it.  I was at Joann’s fabric store. They had their patterns on sale, and I had a little time while waiting for my ride to pick me up… I got suckered.  I found this sweet little rondo style skirt pattern through Butternick, one that I was trying to figure out through my own pattern draft skills, but I had a weak moment and decided to take the easy route  and just purchase it.

The pattern is labeled “Easy”. So I figured on a good 1.5 hour project, it would be a good pick me up on one of THOSE days.

I honestly can see why someone new to sewing can be disappointed or discouraged by their first projects, especially if they think that the patterns they are following are always correct!  Honestly I have yet to do a mass produced pattern without finding some significant errors in it!    So you may ask, what pattern were you frustrated with today?  It is a simple skirt, done in a spiral pattern.   Elegant, sweet, and flowing.  The perfect everyday accessory.

I took new measurments to determine my correct size according to the pattern.  Cut out the pieces and lined them up on the fabric.  With all the grain lines correctly lined up.  I cut out the four pattern pieces and marked all the notches.  Serged all the pieces… because I plan on using the skirt for a long, long, time.

That is where the easy ended.

I started joining the first two pieces, first flummox.  The notch lines did not line up, by 2 inches in opposite directions.  I sat back in my chair and said… hmmmmmm, that’s interesting. But looking back at the instructions I noticed I could start the seam at the top and wind my way down.  I proceeded to attach all 4 pieces, making sure to press each seam as I went.  But before I attached the back seams together I decided to try on the skirt… ’cause something just did not look right.

The waist was approximately 4.5 inches too short.

Well that sucked, especially since I picked up four different complimenting fabrics to use on the four different panels.   Luckily I had a bit of fabric that did not look too silly to add in.  So I proceeded to cut out a 5th pattern piece and attached it to the open seam.  Closed up the back seam and tried the skirt on.  The only problem is now the waist band no longer fit, by 1.5 inches.  Eh, no biggy.  I have short legs so doing a rolled elastic waist band actually makes the finished product sit at the sweet spot right above my knee.

The only part of the pattern that seemed to have worked out well were the instructions on how to do a rolled hem on bias cut fabric.  The skirt has this sweet petal shape to the lower hem, I absolutely love it.

I have had many negative experiences with mass produced patterns, specifically Butternick, Simplicity, and Bucilla.  I also know many other seamstress’s who have had irritating run-ins with bad  pattern pieces or instructions.  Luckily each and every one of them has had the experience, know how, and network to figure it out.  I have found that Vogue and Oscar generally do not have these problems and when the pattern is followed verbatim you get a beautiful working outfit with out too many alterations.

So my advice to everyone, and a reminder to myself.  If you are using expensive materials… or doing an intricate outfit, do it in muslin first. It’s worth the extra few minutes of cutting and basting.


Bamboo… flats, prefolds, or inserts. And other Cloth Diaper Ramblings

We are a purely cloth diapered household,  after the merconium quit flowing and we ran out of hospital supplied diapers, our little LJ’s bum was happily swathed in cloth.   Early in our pregnancy, my aunt found out we were planing on using cloth diapers, and she so nicely sent us a bunch of samples of different types from her work.  The first thing I realized was I did not like any of the designs.  They either took way to much time to assemble or they required purchasing dozens in each size.  Our choice to go cloth was mainly financial, so the thought of forking out 4-500$ for diapers seemed to defeat the purpose.  Yes, I know there are lots of other positive reasons to cloth diaper,  they were just perks over the financial savings.

Since I am a somewhat competent seamstress I decided to try and make my own diaper covers to use.  We purchased approximately 5 dozen cotton flat folds, half in a small size which I took the time to sew into prefolds and the other half were larger but I left them flat.    Before LJ was born I would spend hours on the internet searching out ways of folding the flats and prefolds, practicing each and every method.  I even purchased some neat plastic clips that I thought would come in highly useful (instead of safety pins).  In the end, use determines function… I had made 6 PUL lined cotton covers which closed with endustrial strength velcro and were edged with FOE (Fold over elastic).  We then folded the prefolds and later the flat folds into long rectangles and laid them in the covers like maxi-pads.  They never slipped or moved around, and when changing time came.  Whoop! We removed the soiled cotton rectangle, whiped the booty and the PUL with a wet cloth and replaced with a fresh liner.  We could use aprox 4-6 liners before changing the cover.  Face it, we became spoiled. It was so easy using this method, we could do a small load in the washer and a short dry.

When LJ hit approximately 19lbs, and was able to undo the velcro herself, I decided to search out some new designs.  One day in a weak moment, I purchased a diaper cover off of Etsy.  It was my favorite color (orange) and a great price.  Even better, it was a different design than what we had been using, so we could try something new.  This cover was PUL turned inside out on the outside and lined with fleece.  Very soft and cushy.  The only problem was, as soon as the liner got wet or soiled you had to change the whole thing!  We would get  a maximum of 2 liners out of it!   I do not fault the Etsy designer, the sewing job was superb, it was the whole design that we did not like.  I then decided to make the next 6 covers the same way I had before, but changing the velcro to KAM snaps (neat plastic snaps, a breeze to assemble).  The only problem was that the large flats that we used as inserts are getting to small.

I was able to get my hands on some Bamboo fleece.  I had read all kinds of wonderful things about this material, and I must admit I fell in love with it as soon as it arrived at my door.  It was so soft and supple, I just sat there rubbing on it for a while.  So I decided to do an experiment, I made 3 different kinds of liners out of it.  One simple Flat, One Prefold, and One insert with ZORB sandwiched inside.   We have been using them for about a month now and there are some definate pro’s and cons to this material.

First, the bamboo holds ALOT of liquid. It’s amazing the amount it can hold.  The problem is it does not wick well away from the source.   So at the end of the night when we go to change LJ, the side of the liner closest to her is SOAKED, where as the side against the diaper cover is dry.

Second, with the cotton flats and prefolds we were used to doing a small load in the washer and dryer with a relatively short dry time.  We could even hang them up to dry quickly if the mood ever struck us.  The bamboo flats are the same.  The prefolds and the inserts with the ZORB are a different story.  The prefold had to be run twice through the dryer… the one with the ZORB insert, went through a third time and still ended up having to be left out to dry over a couple of days.

Lastly,  the flat folds need to be sized correctly.  They take up alot of space and are less forgiving than cotton.  But as with the cotton inserts, you can always combine sizes to increase absorb-ability.

On another note, bamboo is one of those wonderful fabrics that the more times it gets washed the more absorbent it gets!

So for the foreseeable future, I plan on introducing more bamboo flats into our diaper stash.   For all you cloth diapered families out there, I hope you have found something that truly works for you!  And of course if you are in need of supplies, my Etsy shop has covers for sale.  Bamboo flats, prefolds and ZORB liners are a special request item and will only be made as a custom order, depending on the sizes you need!




Update 10/13/11

Well we have used the bamboo flats for a little over a month now, and have found that every-time we use those inserts Our little LJ ends up with OPEN sore diaper rash… even if we catch the first flow!  We also have found that it does not adhere to any of the solids and they end up squeezing out the side.  So we have pulled our stash out of rotation.  Its beautiful fabric, soft, and very absorbant.  But our little LJ’s bum enjoys cotton.

My suggestion to you?  buy one or two to try for atleast a month before you dedicate your entire diaper budget.  Make sure you are one of the lucky families that can use this wonderful fabric!




Who Is this Ursula, anyways?

Hello and welcome,

My name is Leana, aka Ursula, and I am just an average everyday girl with a passion for devine design.  I am currently a couch participant in the world wide organization of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA),  my area of interest is 10th century Norse.  Thus my nickname, and yes I answer to it!

My first semester of college, oh so many years ago, I was snagged on clubs day and introduced into the wonderful world of medieval reenactment.  Not Ren faire, but true reenactment.  As a society we love to learn, teach, and participate in everything dealing with the time periods between 600-1600.  Thus my obsession with textiles began.  I started with sewing, moving to embroidery, spinning, dyeing, weaving, then graduated to ceramics, lampwork bead making, cooking, brewing… Oh so many hobbies!  I have trunks full of clothing,  more valuble than the house I live in, or the car I drive.

With the birth of our daughter in late 2010, I transfered all my artistic energies into making a wardrobe for her!  It started with our maternity photos… And encouraged by our photographer (the wonderful Christine Kozlik of www.dovephotos.com), I made her newborn photography props.   Not long after, my Etsy shop graduated from supplying lampwork beads to unique photography props.  I also started my own children’s clothing line, named Bum-Envy, specifically designed to fit the cloth diapered bum.   Soon I was encouraged to look locally, and  started selling some of my clothing line in  a local boutique (thanks to April of www.sugabugkids.com), and a few lucky others throughout the southeast.  Almost 9 months after I started selling my Bum-Envy line on Etsy, it was picked up for national retail through www.attitudepie.com, and a life long dream of working from home is a budding reality.

Now you may ask, what do you do Ursula, when you are not sewing?  I work part time as a dental assistant.  Simple as that. Luckily my transition from full time, to part time with the birth of our daughter, has allowed me the time to pursue my dream.   So next time you go to the dentist you can wonder at the secret life of the assistant helping you out ;).

I put this Blog together as a place to share my passion for all kinds of textiles, arts and crafts.  Please check back often to see what’s been added!