November 18, 2014

Making plans, Disney-style

If you follow the Sewcialists blog, then you've probably heard that this month's theme is all things Disney. And I'm co-hosting! So I'm really glad to be done with the coat so I can actually, you know, make an outfit for this.

Since I already channeled my favorite Disney bookworm earlier this year for DragonCon, I decided to look a little further back into my childhood for this one. I grew up watching Disney cartoons--one of the things that I always looked forward to during family gatherings was that my grandmother would try to get the latest Disney movie on VHS, and my cousins and I would all watch it together. And if there wasn't anything new, we'd watch older classics like Cinderella or Peter Pan. I enjoyed those, of course, but the first one I really remember latching onto was this one:

I have this vague memory of this being the first movie that I actually saw in a movie theater, though I guess that depends on how accurate my memory is--after all, I would have been around 7 at the time. But I loved this one. Especially the music, and all of the underwater prettiness, though I'm also pretty sure this is where I got the idea that my hair should be red and if it doesn't agree, then I should just give it a little help! (Now if I could just get her volume...)

I don't want to go all-out costume for this one, especially since a shell top and tail just isn't something I want to be seen in out in public! So I'm taking my inspiration more from her going around town/"Kiss The Girl" outfit:





I actually already have the top done, so I'll give a little sneak preview!

It sits a little wonky on Donna, but here's what I came up with! I really thought about making the black neckline more of a sweetheart shape, but with some careful basting, managed to get a mostly clean line for the notch.

It's a Renfrew, of course, with some modifications for the color-blocking and also a raised neckline. Now that I look at the Ariel picture again, I probably could have left it a little more scooped, but I'll be warmer this way. Since I'm all about the stashbusting, and some of the pictures look more off-white and some more light blue, I used an ivory jersey for the top/sleeves and the leftover black interlock from the dress I made over the summer for the "corset".  I just barely had enough to squeeze this out--I couldn't even cut the band for the bottom, so it's just hemmed. I'm hoping this won't look too blatantly costumey if I pair it with cardigans or jackets or whatever, but I do like the look of it, and I'm quite happy that my hack turned out the way I wanted it to! There may have to be more color-blocked Renfrews in my future. Because that's a way more interesting use of plain colored fabrics, IMO.

More pics to come once I figure out what I'm doing about that skirt--I was originally planning to make a Gabriola, but it isn't going to work at this point. So I'll have to improvise. Looks like it might be my old Burda magazines to the rescue...

November 13, 2014

the coat that stubbornness built

peacoatThe coat is finally done! It took a lot longer than I'd planned, mostly due to my sewing mojo being the lowest it's been since I was in grad school and trying to juggle that, my TA duties, getting a teaching career going outside of the university's music school, and actually seeing my friends on occasion. But I did the last bit of hand-stitching and sewed on the buttons last night, finishing it just in time for the cold to come. Literally. Yesterday it was in the 60s, and today we might scrape the upper end of the 40s if we're lucky. Brr.

Since I've used this pattern before, there isn't really a ton to say about it. I did do several things differently this time, mostly involving hand-stitching all of the internal seams down because they weren't pressing flat enough, and underlining. I used up that silk organza I'd mentioned in a previous post to underline almost everything (I didn't have quite enough for the sleeves, so I left it out of there), and I also underlined (interlined?) the lining with Thinsulate. Which was way less time-consuming in the long run than my last coat, where I quilted two layers of quilt batting into the lining. This coat is still heavy, though! I think it's mostly due to the outer fabric, which is pretty thick and heavy compared to the suedecloth I used for the last coat. Oh, and I had to draft the pattern piece for the collar stand, because apparently I also failed to return that to the envelope the last time, along with the first page of directions. Organization fail. Maybe next time I need a coat, I should just get a new pattern!

bound buttonholeOh, and I did bound buttonholes! This was my first attempt at doing it, and they are a little wonky in spots (also probably due to the thickness), but they blend in well enough with the fabric that it isn't blatantly obvious unless you're looking up close. I did cheat a little bit--the original coat pattern calls for an additional buttonhole on the part that goes underneath the main buttoned-up part, to attach to a button on the lining. But honestly, I rarely, if ever, buttoned it there when I was wearing the other coat. So I figured I'd save myself some time and skip it! I also stole the buttons from the old coat, since they were still perfectly good.

hemI cheated on the lining a bit, and just shoved the raw edge of the lining underneath the serged edge of the coat and hemmed it on machine. At that point, I just wanted it DONE. But honestly, I think it will hold better in the long run than hand-stitching on this particular fabric, and since the lining pleats over top of the hem, you can't even really see that serged edge.

This project may have taken forever, and it was honestly sheer stubbornness combined with my fear of cold that pushed me to finish it. But it was great for stashbusting! All together, I completely used up 3 yards of that tweedy stuff on the outside, 2 yards of Bemberg lining, and about 3 1/3 yards of the organza--it wasn't full width everywhere since it was leftover from a previous project, so I had to do some creative pattern work. I do have a decent-sized piece of leftover Thinsulate, so I'll need to figure out what to do with that at some point.

peacoat liningSo, one project of my FESA plan down, finally.  I'm hoping I can still squeeze in my SewDisney project before the end of November, but I'm starting off with a Renfrew hack, so this should theoretically go much faster! And at least I'll manage to stay warm in the meantime. I hope. Since this is me we're talking about, after all.

October 16, 2014

What's it got on its pocketses?

Since finishing up my friend's cape, I've managed to make a little progress on my coat, at least as far as construction of major sections has gone. It's taking a little longer, for a couple of reasons:
a) This tweedy fabric frays if you just look at it--I'm really not exaggerating by much! So I'm having to go back and serge every raw edge once the seams are sewn.
b) The first page of the directions somehow didn't make it back into the envelope after the last time I made this coat! So I'm having to really think through this and make sure I'm doing it right. I even pulled out my old Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing as a reference just to make sure. Yay for sewing books!
c) I'm actually glad I did that, because it inspired me to add a detail to the pocket construction that I think will make this coat better. Also, I had to cut the pocket lining in the first place.
d) I also discovered that I sewed one of the pockets on in the wrong place, and had to rip it off and re-sew it to the right place. Which means I've just now finished the first two front seams, minus topstitching. Yikes.

So that pocket detail... I added a facing to the lining fabric portion. (One side is cut from the actual coat fabric.) I was originally planning on lining the coat in this lime green silk crepe that I bought for the wedding and then couldn't use. But I had this royal TARDIS blue Bemberg lining that I bought to attempt to line the Darling Ranges dress that I was originally thinking of making this fall. (At this point in October, I'm thinking my best bet is to drop that part of my FESA plan and save it for going into next fall. Again.) A little Twitter conversation confirmed my thought that fully lining the dress might be more complicated than helpful, particularly for the bulk of the gathered skirt. So I commandeered that particular piece of fabric for the coat lining instead, because I think it will slide over sweaters and the like so much more nicely. (Now I still have to come up with something to do with 3 yards of lime green silk. Help?)
I was worried about how the lining would hold up against the strain of pulling my gloves in and out of my pockets, especially with the thicker tweedy fabric. So I basted a leftover scrap of my organza, cut on the selvedge, onto the seam line of the two pocket pieces...






...and then stitched on a piece of the coating. The edge facing the inside pocket is serged, of course, because of that fray factor.

A small detail, I know, but even though the front isn't pressed yet, I think this is helping the pocket to lay much better. And it looks a lot more professional to not have that blue peeking out!

I don't think I'm going to go all-out tailored with this coat, because it being halfway through October means I'm feeling pressured to get this done. Especially since it's been oddly warm and the temperatures are set to plummet this weekend, which means I'll be freezing my butt off at work next week for sure. So if I try any more super-tailored details on this one, I think it'll be attempting the bound buttonhole thing. I just can't see a regular stitched-and-cut buttonhole holding up for too long on this fabric. I guess I'll have to figure out when in the process to do that, so wish me luck! I think I'm at least caught up to the point where I have directions again. So that's something.

October 11, 2014

a little owl cape

The nice thing about sewing on Saturdays is that I can instantly post! I literally just finished this project about 10 minutes ago, minus photography/writing time.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the last post, a friend of mine emailed me while I was on the Paris trip to ask if I'd be willing to help her out with a Halloween costume for her foster son. I've made some capes for her before, for her own boys and her nieces/nephews, and the idea was pretty cute, so it was hard to say no! The boy loves owls, and really wanted to dress up as one. This was the inspiration link she sent me. And she bought the owl mask herself, so my only responsibility was the cape.

Owl cape, frontAnd this is what I came up with. I made this one a little differently than the others, mostly in that it involved a half-circle rather than a rectangle. The bottom-most level of feathers is the cut edge of the cape, but all of the others were cut and sewn on. I was also able to use all stash fabrics! The boy's favorite color is green, so I was glad to find a piece of cotton that didn't have a girly-looking print on it.


Owl cape, backAnd here's a view of the back, as best as Donna could model it. I'm sure her shoulders are wider than a little boy's! I left all the edges of the feathers raw, because it would have taken forever to make this otherwise, though I stitched the edges about 1/4" away from the edge to prevent too much fraying as it gets washed and worn. I figured a little fraying would actually be ok for this one, to soften the feather edges! The rows of feathers are just zigzagged on, so I did add the lining that you can see above in order to hide that. The rows got pretty crooked in some spots! I know there's this huge span of tan at the top, but honestly, I ran out of the green so I had to improvise!
Owl cape liningOne more detail my friend requested was some "handles" so he could use that to spread his wings. I made them pretty wide in order to accommodate growth, but it's just two pieces of ribbon stitched on so that the feathers above it were left free (minus the hem feathers, of course.)

I sent her some pictures in progress and she was excited about how it was turning out, so I'm hoping the boy loves it! This was more of a fabric hog than I thought, too-- I only have scraps left of the tan leaf print and the darker brown. So all in all, about 3.75 yards of fabric. I've been remiss in keeping track of the numbers on my spreadsheet lately--I still have some subtracting to do for the DragonCon projects and my TARDIS bag. So I'll have to catch up on that soon so I can at least see how I'm doing on my Stash Diet at the end of the month!

Are you doing any Halloween costumes this year? Or are you all too busy sewing your fall and winter stuff, like I need to start doing?

October 9, 2014

the slowest of sewing

I figure I'll have to do a few more in-progress posts for awhile, since I'm not speedy enough to whip out a winter coat in no time! Also, I've gotten a little sidetracked by a sewing request from a friend that I couldn't pass up. (Because it's costume-related and for a little kid--how could I say no?)


All I've managed to get done on my coat so far is to cut the outside and underline the pieces. My fabric doesn't look like a loose weave on the table, but when you hold it up to the light, it tells a different story!

If that much light gets through, it seems reasonable that winter winds could do the same! I had a large piece of silk organza left over from making this dress, because I seriously overestimated how much I would need to underline it. I also ruined the light color of it back when I made that dress, because I threw all of the fabrics in the wash together and it turned sort of an uneven, hand-dyed-looking grey. So I didn't want to use it as a press cloth, and I couldn't use it for any interfacing-type roles on lighter colored fabrics. However, I did have just enough to squeeze most of the outer pieces of this coat onto it, minus the two front pieces. (They were supposed to be interfaced anyway, and overlap when the coat is buttoned, so I was ok with making an exception there.)

The grain may be wonky on a few pieces here and there, because if you've ever worked with silk organza, you know how it shifts. At first, I tried cutting out the pieces and then basting it onto the main coat pieces, but of course things were shifting like crazy. So since the fabric itself has a bit more grabbing power than the usual things I underline, I tried a different approach: laying the pieces directly on the organza, basting them on, and then cutting them out. The other advantage to this was that I could tweak the layout to fit as many pieces of the coat on as possible, since I was working with leftovers!

The pieces are all cut out and ready to go, including the two interfaced front pieces. I'm hoping to finish my friend's project--an owl cape for her foster son to wear for Halloween/his early November birthday--before the weekend is over, so I can give it to her on Sunday. I do have a little sneak peek of that, aside from what I've been posting on Instagram here and there, because Doug got bored while I was working on this last weekend and started goofing off with my camera. I guess a good side effect of our Paris trip is he's a lot less nervous about using it now!
So many feathers. But the good thing is that I was able to completely bust a few pieces of quilt cotton from my stash!
And a little peek at me in my sewing room. It had been awhile since I had a nice chunk of weekend time to sew, so I was a happy girl!

The feathers didn't go quite as far when I pinned them on for real after edge-finishing, so I cut out what I hope is the last of those last night. The only work I have today is teaching a couple of lessons, so I'm hoping to get those edges done so I can finish up the sewing ASAP!

September 29, 2014

an American fabric-shopping in Paris!

Yeah, that happened! There's a lot more I could say about my trip, but we all know you're really here for the fabric chatter, right? Of course right.

Several people were kind enough to give me recommendations for places to check out, via Twitter. Specifically Sonja and Sarah--thanks, ladies! I knew I would have to limit myself on how many places I could visit, since I'd be dragging Doug with me, so I ended up picking one recommendation from each sewcialist.

Les Coupons de Saint-PierreFirst up was Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. I'd been forewarned that this place was one you'd have to dig through piles, but I've been a thrift shopper since I was 13, so I have no problem with that.

To be honest, I could have spent hours in this part of town alone--there were so many tables full of fabric sitting outside multiple shops, just begging to be noticed! For a girl who only has a handful of Joann's in her entire state to pick from, this was a dream! But for the sake of my long-suffering husband, I restrained myself. Yes, there was a lot of digging to do. All of the fabric is piled onto tables by type, in 3-meter cuts--there was a huge pile of cottons, a section for linen, a part with leather hides, a huge section on the one side of the store for "silks", etc. (I put the silk in quotes, because upon closer examination, I deduced that the sign probably meant silky and the biggest pile was actually polyester. All of the labels were in French, of course, but I made sure to look up the words for the different fiber types before I left!) So I bought 3 pieces of fabric here. When we were walking to the metro, I spotted a fourth "coupon" on an outside table that I couldn't pass up, so we quickly bought that as well and kept moving. I forget the name of that shop, but it also had "Coupons" in the name, and looked to be pretty similar.

French fabric!Here's what I ended up with, from left to right:

1. A fine-wale corduroy, covered in embroidery and sequins. This was on the 5 Euro table outside the store. My first instinct says jacket, but since I already have a brown corduroy jacket, I'm pondering a fall skirt. A Beignet, maybe? French named-pattern for a French fabric!

2. The piece on the side of the road I couldn't leave! It's a thin jersey, and I do so love brown and teal together. I think this could be very nice as the lately-released Muse Jenna cardi, though I don't have that pattern yet. 4,75 Euros.

3. A denim with a slight amount of stretch. I liked the cross-hatching in the weave. These will eventually become jeans, of course. I'll have to decide whether to make them skinny, since that's pretty much the only pants I saw anywhere in Paris, or give myself another pair of bootcuts.

4. An ITY floral jersey. This color scheme is odd for me, and almost completely outside of my palette, but something about it called to me. I don't know what this one will be yet, but it's not like I have a shortage of jersey patterns. I'm open to suggestions, though!

All together, the cost of these fabrics was just under 30 Euros. Which made the whole shopping trip cheaper than almost every single meal we ate. Those cafes are expensive when you're buying for 2! Even for just sandwiches!

la drougerieThe second store I visited later in the week was La Drougerie. I didn't end up buying any fabric here, because there was only a small selection and it looked like mostly quilt-type cottons. It was also sold by the meter instead of the 3-meter cuts, so it looked like that would add up quickly. It looked like the big draw here was the yarn--it's the first thing you see when you walk into the door, and dominates the whole first half of the store. There's also a room to the side where you can browse beads and buttons and trims, and again, I could have spent a lot more time here.




I decided to limit myself to just a small yarn purchase here, since the yarn is sold by weight. It's a good thing I came armed with fiber translations, because as usual, there's wool in almost everything! But I did find this super-soft linen/bamboo blend. It's called Kaleido, Ravelry has it categorized as fingering weight, and I ended up with about 330 yards. So probably enough for a hat or a lacy scarf or something along that line.

Unleaving, in progress
Finally, I did do some crafting while I was gone! This was mostly done during times like airport layovers and sitting in the hotel room at night-- I was originally thinking to knit on the plane some, too, but for both of the long flights, I ended up in the middle seat with not a ton of elbow room. This is the Unleaving Shawl from Knitty, which really looks a lot more like a scarf than a shawl and highly increases the chance of this actually getting worn. And it's a really simple pattern, unless I'm so tired from flying for 8 hours straight that I screw up the pattern and can't figure out how to backtrack and fix it. (Yeah, that happened once. Hopefully it's not too terribly obvious. I really should not knit anything other than straight stockinette when I'm super-tired.)

One other fun sewing-related story from the trip: Doug and I had just gotten on the metro later in the day after dropping off my fabric at the hotel, to head to Notre Dame. There were two older ladies in the seats near the rail we were holding onto, and one was telling her friend (in English) about something having to do with a silk-cotton blend and the pattern she was working with. So when there was a pause in the conversation, I asked them if they sewed, they answered in the affirmative, and the three of us got to chatting about sewing clothes! I didn't have time before our stop to ask their names or where exactly they were from, though I'm guessing America based on the accents (or lack thereof, to my ears). But they did like my Cooper bag that I was carrying, and had heard of Colette when I replied to their question of what pattern I'd used. It's amazing that I could instantly find someone to talk to in a random subway on the other side of the world because of sewing!

If you do want to see travel photos, I have a small selection up on my Instagram. I still need to sort through the photos on my SLR, and when I uploaded those and the ones on my phone this morning, I have over 700 photos from the week! But I'm also going to make a Flickr album of my favorites, mostly to make it easier to upload and print. After all, this is exactly the sort of trip that makes me want to dig into my scrapbook paper and play!

September 15, 2014

Do the (blog) hop!

I'm sure many of you have seen the blog hop that's been going around about our writing processes lately, and Alessa nominated me! If you don't know her, she lives in Germany, makes wonderful, colorful dresses, and started a new job as a doctor this year (congrats!) So it's an honor to be nominated by her. And here's my answers.


Early days blog photography, when Donna 1.0 was my main model.
Why do I write? I started this blog waaaay back in 2007, mostly just as a way to keep track of my own projects, make notes of changes that I'd make when re-using patterns in a place where I couldn't misplace them, etc. Somewhere on the way, people actually started reading it and (gasp!) commenting. And suddenly, I was actually part of a sewing community. Since I live in what is basically a desert for garment sewing, and the only people I know who sew regularly are my mom and grandmother (who are both more into quilting), this is a pretty big deal! When the "sewintists map" went live, I kept checking and checking, but I've never seen another pin in Delaware. I guess it's a good thing I'm only a day trip away from Philadelphia/Baltimore/DC, right? So my blog is still mostly just for my own personal documentation, but also as one method of keeping conversations going with other sewcialists.
A recent outtake with both dogs trying to get in the action!

What am I working on? Blog-wise: you probably wouldn't know it, but I am attempting to work on improving my blog photos. My current challenges here are that I don't have anywhere good to take photos outside on a regular basis, since I live in a middle-unit townhouse that has a lovely view of one of my state's busiest highways from the backyard, and I'm still trying to convince my long-suffering husband to not be scared of my camera. Also, photobombing Golden retrievers. :-)

I'm also working on writing more concisely, because I have a tendency to ramble!

Sewing-wise: I've got two projects going on right now! One is my winter coat, which I'll probably write more about soon. This one pretty much demands in-progress posts. The other is a patchwork skirt commissioned by my sister-in-law. It's a good thing she's patient, because I started this one before my wedding dress and it still isn't done! But since this is the perfect project for Scraptember, I'm trying very hard to finish it this month. We'll see if I make it, since I'm leaving for vacation on Friday!

How does it differ from others of its genre? I don't think my blog is all that unique, tbh. I don't design patterns, I'm not an expert at fitting or pattern hacking, and I'm not trying to come up with anything to sell at this point in my life. Since I've already turned one hobby into a job, via my music teaching and occasional performance, I'd like to keep my crafty life as something that's just for fun! I guess what does make me a little different is that I don't just sew--that's why I named this blog what I did. I've been teaching myself to knit, I make jewelry when the mood strikes, I've been making scrapbooks since I was in high school, and sometimes I do other "crafty" stuff. And I need to remember sometimes that just because something isn't sewing-related, doesn't mean it's not creative or unworthy of a mention.
me as Amy Pond
Or not-so-secret costumes, though only the Whovians would get this.

Also, some people like "secret pajamas" clothes.... I like making secret costumes! (AKA things inspired by geeky things I love, which can still be worn in my everyday life.)

How does my writing process work? Most often, I start with the words. I've always found it easier to consolidate my thoughts in writing, rather than verbally. Also, sometimes I pre-write my posts at my retail job, when I'm close to finishing a project and don't have anything else to do. (Shh!) After that, I take the photos/pester Doug into taking them for me, edit my text as needed to match them, and post! Lately, that's also been followed by tweeting about the new post, since sewing completely sucked me into the Twittersphere. 

I'm supposed to tag two other people, so I'm nominating Katie from Kadiddlehopper and Helena at By Eitchy. In case you don't know them, Katie makes fabulous clothes for both her and her highly photogenic daughter, and has the most stylish Barbies around. She's seriously tempting me to get out my old Samantha doll and make some outfits for her with my scraps! Helena lives in Sweden, is working through a really fascinating project she calls "Sew For A Change" where she's also working on greening up her lifestyle, and has also been in pretty much the same boat of re-examining her wardrobe plans and ideals through the Wardrobe Architect project. I also find it interesting when she talks about Swedish culture, since it sounds like it's soooo different in a lot of ways from what I'm used to here in America.

September 11, 2014

FESA plans!



It's that time of year again! I do love this sewalong, and this is the 3rd year I've participated. You all know how I feel about the cold, and my ironically wool-phobic skin doesn't help matters. (I say ironic, because since I got married, my last name now starts with Wool! Go figure.) So this is a great way to keep me focused and excited about making things to get me through the winter.

So without further ado, here are my plans for the next couple of months. I'm keeping things rather conservative this time, so maybe I can actually finish everything?


Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather: I have some stashed knit to try out the Espresso leggings, and I'd like to knock out a pair or two of them. Since woolly tights are a sad no-go for me, I think this could be a great way to keep my legs warmer for wearing skirts. (I wear boots with skirts a lot, so the no-foot-coverage thing won't be an issue.) Not to mention it's a layer I can wear under my jeans while I'm shivering my way through the last bit of October at the outside register at my retail job. (I have some black, too, but it's a much bigger bolt since I'd also bought this fabric with that aborted attempt at a Red Velvet in mind. Oh well. I can always use black knit somewhere, right?)

Chic Chemises for Cool Climates: The definite is that I'd like to finally finish up the Roheline cardigan that I've been knitting since August 2013! (Though I really didn't get it started until last September, since I had to restart no less than 7 times.) I'm so, so close to finishing the sleeves, which means I only have the yoke and buttons to go, so it's not unreasonable. Depending on how the time goes, I also wouldn't mind trying out the Archer blouse, since I didn't get to that in my summer plans.

Fabulous Frocks: I would like to do a Darling Ranges dress if at all possible, since the colors will be great for taking it into the winter. Also, I meant to make it last year, so it's time. I'm hoping to knock this one out next month, since The Monthly Stitch's theme is "Frocktober" anyway. I'll just need to find a layer to go over it--I have yarn to knit a yellow cardigan that will pair nicely with this, but there's no way I'll be able to finish 2 cardigans in this time span.

Baby It's Cold Outside: My old peacoat that I made in 2007 is starting to fall apart. Replacing that will be first priority! (Even so, 7 years, including the polar vortex of wintry doom that we had this past year, is not bad at all for my first me-made winter coat!) I'm hoping to play around with a few more tailoring techniques, but I'm using the exact same pattern as the first one, so at least fitting won't be an issue. I actually have started cutting this one out already, but since there's 4 layers involved, I'm still on the outside. (The black and white tweedy fabric has been cut, but I'm underlining most of the pieces with that greyish silk organza that's right next to it. And that's taking a little longer. Especially given that I haven't been able to touch it since Saturday.)

Other projects: I'm hoping to knock out a skirt before the end of the month, because a long-standing project I've been making for my sister-in-law is perfect for Scraptember! I may knit up a scarf, too, since I'm strongly leaning towards a one-skein project to take on my upcoming trip to France. (Next weekend! Eeeeee!) After all, I have a lot of plane/airport time, and at least 6 hours on a bus to get to Normandy and back, and I'm not sure how well my Kindle battery will hold up for a cross-continental flight. Also, I know from experience that I sadly cannot read on the bus without getting sick.  Maybe I'll have better luck with just keeping my hands busy.

I'm also beginning to plot out what I'm going to make for the Disney sewalong that Katie and I are co-hosting in November, but that project is still a secret!





September 6, 2014

The Sorbetto that was late for everything

I love sewalongs! Especially when I can work things so that one project fits the parameters of multiple ones. What can I say, I guess I have a hard time not wanting to participate in All The Things. I mentioned in a recent post that I'd been planning to make a Red Velvet that I could use for both The Monthly Stitch's birthday sewalong, and the Sewcialists' Tribute month, and that it didn't work out. So my plan B was to revisit my original list of things I planned to sew this summer, and make the Colette Sorbetto. My thought process, since I was still in DragonCon prep mode at the time, was pretty much this:

"A lot of cake has flowers on it, so a floral print top would work for cake. Even if they're daisies and not roses. And I'm sure somebody out there likes Sorbettos enough that I could say this is a tribute to her, right? Right!"

And then I didn't finish this until yesterday anyway, which makes it too late for both sewalongs. Oh well. I'll probably throw this one up on TMS anyway.

Oh, right, you probably want to see that shirt, don't you?

IMG_1583
So here it is, in all of its slouchy glory. I'm still not convinced this is a good pattern for me, to be honest. It's all right when tucked in, though that's not a look I often go for, and I guess I'm a little stuck on looser top + fitted skirt still = waist definition. But it is pretty comfortable to wear outside, which is good, because September and July seem to have traded places this year! So while I was enjoying mostly that golden range of 70-85 degrees most of the summer, now that it's unofficially fall, we're back to 90 degrees and 200% humidity. Go figure.

I did make a couple of changes, which are completely unoriginal, given how long this pattern's been out. I lowered the darts about 1", because they were way too high on the original pattern. I'm pretty sure they're in an ok place now, but the shirt tends to slide forward on me and bring them too low, so it's hard to say. I also replaced that front pleat with some gathering--I thought that might help it work better with both the pattern and, well, my chest. In that, I do think this was more successful than my last attempt. Finally, I lengthened the pattern as much as the fabric would let me.

IMG_1586
Untucked, it just looks like a sack. So while I was considering/planning to bring this on my upcoming France trip, now I'm not so sure.

As for the fabric, it's a rayon challis that I acquired via a swap with Kat about a year and a half ago. I hadn't sewn with challis since, oh, the 90s. And I forgot how lovely it can be to work with--which is good, since I have 2 more pieces stashed for dresses! And I guess a year and a half really isn't all that bad, as far as my stash habits go. I literally still have fabric that I purchased back when I was in college (over a decade now, yikes!), though at least by now, it's a piece leftover from a finished project.

The time of year pretty much demands that I move on to more fall sewing now. So let's evaluate how I did with my summer sewing plans overall, shall we?

Tops:


  1. A navy daisy-print tank, most likely a slightly modified Sorbetto. See above.
  2. A royal blue button-down blouse, from a Burda mag. Not even close to thinking about this one.
  3. A navy Archer blouse, which will probably be closer to the fall. I did think about this one, but it obviously didn't happen.
  4. A striped ivory knit tee--hoping to use the Plantain but we'll see if I have enough fabric. Done, cardigan-style.
Bottoms:
  1. Fitted/skinny-ish jeans. Check!
  2. Thurlow shorts. Too bad I didn't have time for these, because I really could have used some shorts that fit for when I was at work, if nothing else. Maybe next year?
  3. Solid black Thurlow pants, which I do not currently have fabric for. And I still don't have fabric for them, but I still should do this sometime. My black RTW pants that I've also had since college are finally starting to fall apart!
  4. Possibly some black Clover pants-- I have fabric that will work, but have not tested this pattern yet. Maybe I should just use that fabric with the Thurlows?
  5. If I have time, a Pavlova skirt. I didn't have time.
  6. I also have a plum skirt that I can do a quick refashion of to make it a better skirt. Maybe this fall?

Dresses:
  1. A navy/ivory Cambie  Done!
  2.  A plum/yellow/royal/white Darling Ranges. I'm bumping this one to my fall plans.
  3. A yellow/white/turquoise Reglisse dress. Part of me is tempted to say I want to make this in October, since The Monthly Stitch is using that pattern as one of their Frocktober contest ones, but the colors are just sooooo summery. I dunno.
  4. A plum/green/white/ knit Tiramisu maxi-dress Done!
  5. A black tank knit maxidress, from McCall's 6559. Done, though shorter than planned.
Layering pieces: Honestly, I didn't touch this category.
  1. a 3/4 sleeve jacket, from the ivory/black embroidered twill I got at Mood and Simplicity 4491 (which I'll modify to shorten and cuff the sleeves.)
  2. An ivory Carmine shrug.
  3.  a yellow knitted cardigan, which I already have yarn and a pattern for, but starting it will have to wait until I finish my grey cardigan. Considering I haven't even finished my Roheline cardigan yet, this was a definite no-go.
IMG_1592So all in all, I had 18 things on my list, only made 6 of them, but also made about 6 things that weren't on this list at all for DragonCon. Plus that Kimono tee from the maxi-dress leftovers, and a couple of refashions. So I guess that isn't too bad for this summer!

Next post: FESA plans!! Did I mention I love sewalongs? But for now, I'll leave you with my "smug model" photo. Because I can. And this particular picture makes me think that maybe tucking in a looser top could actually work on me. Maybe.

September 5, 2014

a traveling companion bag

Last bit of Dragon-Con related sewing, I promise!

IMG_1575The one thing I finished up just before the Con that I didn't say much about earlier was a new bag--I wanted something that I could use for both day trips and airplanes, and this one worked out beautifully. This is the Cooper bag from Colette Patterns, and I pretty much mashed together the messenger bag and backpack versions. My original thought was to make the backpack straps so they could zip into the back, but at the end of the day, it was far more simple to just make a removable messenger bag strap, so that's what I did.

IMG_1578Under normal circumstances, I probably would have passed on solid grey and navy. But my planning revolved largely around this Spoonflower print of TARDIS (Tardises? Tardii? How do you even pluralize that, Whovians?) and Gallifreyan writing that Doug gave me last Christmas. Since it was the quilting cotton, I figured it would be best utilized as a bag lining. As for the outside, it's leftover grey twill from my Thurlow pants, and some stiff poplin-esque fabric that my mom destashed on me. I didn't manage to completely use up any of these fabrics, which particularly surprises me with the grey since it was already leftovers, but it's a start.

And yeah, I stuck a TARDIS on the outside. Because I could. And also because since I have this habit of taking a little plastic TARDIS with me on trips and sticking it in random places, I figured it was fitting. 

The one non-pattern addition I made was the separating zipper--I figured if I was planning to carry this around for day trips and such, I'd feel more comfortable if I had more than a flap and a couple of magnetic snaps standing between me and potential pickpockets. My mom, who is quite experienced at making bags, was kind enough to sew this one along with me and help me figure out the best way to do the zipper, since she added one to hers as well.

IMG_1576And here's the back! The only thing that somewhat annoys me about this bag is that the straps tend to flop out past the sides when I'm carrying this messenger-style, but it's not annoying enough to undo the straps and try to come up with something different. I was also pleased to learn when carrying it around this past weekend that the webbing straps were surprisingly comfortable, though I'm not sure they would have been if I'd been wearing anything sleeveless.

All in all, I think this bag will be quite useful, and now that I know how it works, I'd definitely use the pattern again. Maybe Doug will actually let me sew one for him sometime?

September 3, 2014

DragonCon, and what I wore!

Well, I'm back.

The trip to my very first fan convention was a ton of fun, despite the lines and sleep deprivation. I got to hang out with a friend who I'd previously only met in the real world once (hi, Faith!), I met several actors from favorite tv shows and movies, and got a couple of books signed by one of my favorite living authors. Oh, yeah, and it was basically one giant 4-day costume party, so of course I was all over that!

Several of the things I wore were me-mades that I just ran out of time to blog, so I'm sharing them now. (This will probably be a fairly picture-heavy post, so consider yourself warned.)

IMG_2517For Thursday, we decided to do a Despicable Me theme-- Cassie went as Gru, and Faith and I as her minions! We even found bananas to carry! I went the cheap/lame way out for my goggles and just wore my glasses, partially because I ran out of time to make more accessories, and partially because I had to get up at 3:30 AM to make it to the airport. My me-made for this one was the yellow hoodie. I'd originally planned to take this opportunity to try out the Disparate Disciplines Avocado Hoodie. But due to time/thrift shop constraints, I decided to keep it simple and short-sleeved.  The result is a Renfrew with an Avocado hood. The "hair" on top is just basted-on scraps of black leftover from my recent dress, so I can remove that anytime.I'm actually really happy with how this quasi-hack turned out, and could definitely see more hooded Renfrews in my future! But I'd still like to try the Avocado for real at some point.

IMG_2521As for the overalls, they're just horrendous shorts I found at the thrift store. I should be nice, since some other sewist took the time to resize the legs and turn them into shorts. (The inside seams are basically raw and obviously home-sewn, while the hem was hand-stitched.) But it ended up fitting me really oddly--almost too-tight around the thighs, with the torso and straps being too long and baggy. The original overalls were XL, which probably explains it. And if I ever do this costume again, I'd definitely try for different overalls, but  they were literally the only ones I could find that weren't made for toddlers! I added a hand-painted patch with the Gru logo on it. You can see it a little better in this photo. And look, we found a monster minion!

IMG_2552I started Friday off with a Firefly t-shirt, but changed into my old Eowyn costume partway through the day, because one of our main activities that we all wanted to do in the evening was the Tolkien track's "Evening in Bree" party. (Which was SO fun.) I don't have much to say about this costume, since I've mentioned it here and there on the blog before--the only new addition was the blonde wig. Which did get a little snarly in the back by the end of the party, so I need to figure out how to untangle it without ripping all of that fake plastic hair out. The only other thing I'll say is that the costumes in the contest were amazing, and I felt very out of my league. But I did have a kid come up to me at the end of the party and hand me a sketch that she'd made of my costume, which I thought was really sweet.




IMG_1565Saturday was Belle day for me, and easily the crowd favorite! I've talked about the blue dress and the top here recently. Since then, I added an apron made from an old bedsheet in my muslin pile, and a bow made from scraps of the blue dress. (Just a tube, stuffed with some leftover tulle from my wedding dress to keep it perky, sewn around a hair elastic with another scrap of knit.) I also carried around a basket, which I swapped with Faith, who was doing Red from Once Upon A Time that day because all she needed was a stuffed wolf, and my book didn't fit in mine. I got lots of compliments from passers-by on how "cute" my Belle was, and several people asked to take my picture. But the two best moments were when I was getting a couple books signed by Jim Butcher, who saw me coming up and sang a line from her intro song in Beauty and the Beast ("Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar..."), and the little girl I passed in the skybridge between hotels whose face lit up as she squealed, "Belle!" Making a kid happy made me feel rather good about my life that day.

I did have a couple people ask me where the Beast was. I told them that he was back at home, taking care of the library. (Sorry, Doug.)

IMG_2606Sadly, I didn't make it to any Doctor Who-related activities, but Cassie, Faith and I did go around dressed as companions on Sunday. I don't have any pictures at the moment of Cassie as Oswin/Clara, since that's on another girl's phone, but we ran into a couple of Weeping Angels (yikes!), so this is Faith as River Song and me as Amy Pond. This costume was super-easy-- just the zipper-leg jeans from earlier in the spring, (because after all of that time sewing the skinny jeans, I saw a picture where the cropped jeans she was wearing in my chosen outfit had that detail!) and a thrifted and slightly modified plaid shirt. Also, tally marks on my arms with liquid eyeliner, because as one person I met put it, "Amy without the hashmarks is just a girl in a plaid shirt".

This was an easy recon overall, though I guess "regeneration" would be a more appropriate term here! I shortened it to get rid of a tear, took in the sides and sleeves a bit, and cropped the sleeves to more of a 3/4" length before sewing the cuffs back on. And since one of my costuming goals was clothes I can wear in the real world, I can quite confidently say that I will be wearing this one over the fall.

I saw so many amazing, creative costumes, and it really makes me want to step up my costuming game! Sadly, not all of my pictures are the clearest-- they looked fine on my camera, but the ones from the first day or so, while I was still trying to adjust my settings, ended up slightly blurred. But I did go ahead and make a Flickr album of ones that I wasn't just passing in the hallways and therefore couldn't stop, and thought were funny, creative, or just plain amazing, along with the pictures I've already shared here. (I'll admit there's a disproportionate amount of Lord of the Rings-related costumes, and Disney costumes. But I have an excuse for the Disney, since I'm co-hosting the Sewcialists' sewalong in November!) I'd definitely love to go back again sometime if circumstances/money allows, especially if I have time to do some real costuming beforehand!

August 26, 2014

Sneak peeks and foiled plans









Does anyone else feel like the summer just got away from them? How the heck is it the end of August?

I've been quiet on the blog front, but I've actually been sewing quite a bit, and now have a backlog of about 3 larger projects and some accessories to write about, all DragonCon related in some way or another. So for the most part, I figure that by this point, it's better to just wait and show them off in the context of their respective costumes. I shouldn't have any trouble getting some photographs there! But I have been posting little bits here and there on Instagram, so I figured I'd share a few previews.

 #1: I refashioned a shirt for an Amy Pond costume (from Doctor Who). The shirt I found was almost perfect in its plaid pattern, but I had to pick off this embroidery. Amy's way too proud to be Scottish to walk around with a US Polo tag on her shirt.













#2: I made a bag to carry around, too, because I've been wanting to make myself a bag to use for carrying on airplanes and day trips with Doug anyway. Also, I had TARDIS fabric, thanks to Doug's Christmas present to me last year, and wanted to make sure it got used! This is just the flap and a piece of the lining, but hopefully I can get a few decent pics of the bag while I'm there.


#3: One costume I haven't been able to show any pieces of yet is my minion costume (from Despicable Me). These overall shorts are bloody awful and completely unflattering on me, but they were also the only ones I could find at the local thrift shops that weren't made for toddlers. And I was NOT going to take the time to sew overalls from scratch. But I did create this patch for the front.









And for my foiled plan: I was actually pretty much done with major costume stuff by last week, so I decided to see if I could squeeze out a project that would work for both the Sewcialists' Tribute Month and The Monthly Stitch's birthday "cake" month. My plan was to convert the Cake Patterns Red Velvet into a tunic top that I could wear with my skinny jeans. I still think the idea has merit, but after I traced the pattern pieces out, I discovered that the knit I intended for the bodice is too narrow, by a lot if I wanted to have any chance of matching the stripes. So I guess I'll have to use this piece for something more sleeveless. That idea's been put on the shelf for now, though I may revisit it with some of my knit stash when I feel less crunched for time.

For now, I'm in the middle of knocking out a Sorbetto that I'd had on my original summer sewing list anyway, so I can add that to my list of clothes to take to Paris. (I need to get on that!) And I also need to start working on my next big project pretty much right away, because a winter coat could take awhile, especially given that I'll be away a good chunk of September. But DragonCon is only two days away now, and so I need to finish packing! After work, anyway.




August 12, 2014

Extermi-knitting

IMG_1517So I finished a knitting project. Despite all of the crafty geekery that's been going on around here lately, these handwarmers are not for DragonCon! They were a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, who is also very much into all things Doctor Who. (Happy birthday, Julia!)

The pattern is "The Oncoming Storm" by Laura Isaacs. She gives options for knitting in the round and flat, and I chose to do the flat version since this already had a couple of things going on that were new or fairly new to me-- I haven't done that much knitting with multiple colors of yarn, and I'd never had to pick up stitches for a thumb before. So for the latter in particular, I figured it would be simpler to just leave a hole when sewing it up instead of lots of binding off for a thumb hole or whatever.

IMG_1520The black yarn was leftover from Doug's hat, and I'd actually purchased the grey yarn for this (Caron's Simply Soft) about 2 years ago, because I've been meaning to make these for her for that long. But, time being the wibbly-wobbly thing it is, it got away from me a bit and I just never seemed to be able to get them started. So I started knitting these back in January, because I figured if I did that, surely I could finish them by August! I probably would have finished them a lot faster, if I hadn't been doing things like taking Craftsy knitting classes with my mom, working on that never-ending cardigan, and having my usual springtime work-induced carpal tunnel flareups. So it was very stop and start. But I did finish these around the end of July, save a quick wash and light blocking that I had to do last week. I don't think the blocking made much of a difference in the stitches since it was all acrylic yarn, but one of the silly dogs likes to carry things around in his mouth, so he's perpetually stealing things like any sock he can get his paws on, and my pajamas. And apparently, one handwarmer, because I was dumb enough to leave my knitting bag on the sewing room floor. You just can't give family members gifts that are coated in dog slobber, you know?

IMG_1519Aside from having to figure out the picking up stitches thing, they went together pretty easily, and I'm feeling a little more comfortable with switching between colors now. I do still have a pretty good chunk of that grey skein left over, and a little of the black, but I figure I can always use that to make Doug another hat or something. Hopefully it won't take me another two years to get to that.

I didn't manage to get a picture of both mitts on, because Doug was working on a messy house-related project outside at the time and I didn't want to interrupt. But I can leave you with a canine photobomb shot!


August 4, 2014

I want much more than this provincial life

Let's be honest here: pattern hacking is not my strongest sewing skill. Given enough time and the amount of stubbornness I'm willing to throw at a project, I can sometimes make it work, like the three-muslin wedding dress bodice. Sometimes I get lucky and things turn out as planned right away, like the TARDIS skirt (aside from my occasionally wonky reverse applique.) But most of the time, I end up with something patched-together and not very pretty, like the last major Franken-shirt I attempted. And then I just wonder where my math went wrong (somewhere around the 6th grade, probably) and envy Heather's mad hacking skills.

IMG_1501This project is somewhere between the two extremes. I think I may have had better luck with it because it's a knit and those are generally more forgiving.

In true mad scientist fashion, I mashed together three patterns, from three different companies. The collar and the general shape of the front came from New Look 6922, the sleeves were a narrowed-out-of-necessity version of Simplicity 2852, and the back/reshaping of the front and sleeve caps/cuffs came from my Sewaholic Renfrew. I knew I wanted a slim fit for the top, because the only reason I made this shirt at all was for my Belle costume for DragonCon, and I needed it to fit smoothly under my Monetta-Tiramisu mashup from June.

This wasn't without its drafting issues, for sure. I picked the New Look pattern for the general shape of the collar, because I had no idea how to get something that looked like the shape of what's on her shirt. And I did things like hold the pattern pieces up to myself and measure and everything, but it still ended up being a much lower-cut neckline than I intended. I also ended up having to rip off one of the cuffs and resize it, because it wasn't nearly as fitted as I wanted. I think I ended up cutting about 2" off of it.
IMG_1504
You can see the sleeves a little better here, as well as the general shape of the collar. I was originally thinking of making this a cardigan, but when I realized the collar was way too long, I just sewed it down the center front instead to give it a little more shaping. Draping it over myself didn't help here, either. Like I said. My franken-patterning needs work.

You can probably also see that greyish dot on the collar... I ended up sewing two sets of hooks and eyes on there to close it up some so that the collar comes together where I want it to for costume purposes.

I did bust an entire piece of fabric for this one! I had a tube of rib knit that was pretty useless for t-shirt making, because I'd have to dye tiny little pieces to match whatever shirts I was making, and who wants to do that? So I just managed to squeeze the whole thing out of it. The fabric was free anyway, in the category of things that people gave my mom that she couldn't use for quilts, so no loss on my end except to the yardage tally on my stash. I'll take it.

IMG_1506

And here's the costume so far! I still need to make a half-apron and a hair bow, but the two major components of this outfit are done, at least. I think this one will be a pretty comfortable one to wear all day, too, given that it's all knit.






IMG_1509













And of course I had to do a pose with a book, given that I was in a library and it is Belle.

So I think the costume end is shaping up nicely, though unlike the dress, I'm not sure I'm ever going to wear this shirt outside of this weekend. It just doesn't feel like me, you know? Maybe if I dye it or something. I don't know...what do you think?