August 12, 2014


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.
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.


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.


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?

July 27, 2014

listening to the fabric

First off, wow, thanks for all of the compliments on the jeans! Provided the metal doesn't disastrously rip out in the wash (which I'm going to be so nervous about until I actually wash them), I suspect they'll be a staple this fall.

McCalls 6559Speaking of staples, this finished project probably won't be all that exciting to look at, but I think it does fill a little gap in my wardrobe. I took a break from DragonCon sewing to knock out this little black tank dress, so I could get it done in time for The Monthly Stitch's monochromatic theme month that's currently going on. I also wanted to make sure I got this done before the end of the summer, so I'd have it for traveling--Doug and I booked a trip to Paris! I've never been to Europe, so you can imagine my excitement. I've also been told that he's ok with me buying a little souvenir fabric, so I will happily take suggestions for places to shop there! (Especially places that are reasonably priced and have interesting prints. Despite what this dress may make you think, I'm definitely more interested in buying those!)

The pattern is McCall's 6559, and it was a quite easy sew. Two pieces, and the edges are just turned under and stitched. I'd probably do a binding on the armholes and neckline next time so it would lay a little flatter. I'd originally thought to make this a more fitted maxi-dress. Obviously, that didn't happen, because the fabric said no. It ended up being too narrow at the bottom for the full width of the skirt. So rather than slim the skirt and end up annoyed walking in it--I definitely have a long stride--I figured I'd just go for the shorter length. So I still have maybe a yard left over, but it shouldn't be terribly hard to figure out something to do with a lovely black organic cotton interlock, right?

IMG_1495(He just can't stand to stay out of the photos for long!) I did take it in at the armholes a little, and would normally have taken in the waist more, too. But I think I made the right choice in leaving that as is. The interlock doesn't drape as smoothly as it would probably need to for a more fitted dress. So I figured that leaving it looser would give me some styling flexibility, plus probably be a little more comfortable when August around here is doing its usual 90+ degrees with 2000% humidity thing. This was how I wore it for its first outing, to see a local exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey. (Yes, I took detail shots, and will happily share them in a future post if people are interested.)


But I also did some playing around on Instagram after I finished it--the right is unbelted (and you can see a little how loose it is), and I tried it with a wider belt and then a skinnier belt and blousing it out a la the Sewaholic Saltspring dress. I do think it kind of needs some kind of belt to work on me, to be honest.


But I do like the versatility of it. This was from last night-- after I got home later than expected, Doug suggested we hit the Waffle House instead of me cooking dinner. Isn't he great? So I threw on a recently-acquired chambray shirt, threw the belt back over that, and was ready to go. I'm glad I did, because I get cold in air conditioning fast. 

So, even though it wasn't quite what I originally had in mind, I'm satisfied with how this turned out for such an easy thing to make, and I'm sure I'll have fun this fall with layering it up to make it more functional for that season, too.

July 22, 2014

get the skinnies

Despite last weekend's difficulties, I'm proud to say that the jeans are DONE!
IMG_1453So here are my new skinny jeans. I paired it with my Hummingbird shirt, because it was the most Oona-esque print I had clean that wasn't a dress and wouldn't kill me from heat. (It's supposed to get up to 90, so between that and the fact that town workers are currently outside digging up our yard, because all those recent power outages apparently broke a line in just our yard, it's an indoor photo day!) That's right-- I didn't think I'd get to do it because I have SO much to do before DragonCon, but Oona herself said on twitter that shiny skinny jeans totally count for Oonapalooza!

Which makes sense. I stayed away from skinny jeans for a long time, because I'm definitely more of a curvy girl. And shiny metallic on my backside is definitely a little out of my comfort zone--at least when not in the context of a TARDIS skirt. But that isn't quite so figure-hugging, you know?

IMG_1455Case in point. But I'm pretty proud of those pockets, darnit!! Even though they will be covered up most of the time, because I tend to pair the skinny jeans with the longer, flowy tops. I'm only wearing them with a shirt this short for the sake of pictures.

So, obviously, I can get the jeans on now. I ended up just removing the stitching from the lower waistband, then making lots of clips in the twill tape from both sides of the stitching so that it's now in lots of little pieces instead of one big piece, and therefore the waistband has some stretch again. I asked about it in the Craftsy class, and the instructor clarified that the twill tape is only supposed to be in the back. So that's where I went wrong, because I did it for the entire waistband.

It really is a good class overall, and I'd like to go through it again the next time I make jeans. I didn't do any of the distressing this time, just because the nature of the fabric was screaming dressy denim at me. Also, as much as the metallic threads in particular fray, I figured that would extend this pair's life if I just let it distress itself naturally. But hammering and sandpapering look like a lot of fun, so there will be distressed jeans in my future somewhere. Oh yes.
shiny jeans innards
I had to show off the insides, because the fabric is fun! I had this scrap of cotton left over from covering a photo album, and thought the metallic gold suns and stars would be a good pairing with the metallic silver insides. I had to cut the waistband in two pieces to make it work, but I just squeezed it out. The inside is a little wonky just under the fly, so I do need to work out how to finish that more cleanly for the next pair.

Aside from that, here's what I'd change the next time:
IMG_1459 -Checking the zipper more carefully before sewing the waistband on. I thought I had it lined up, but obviously, I didn't, because this happened.

-Make the waistband wider. I mostly used my self-drafted pattern from the last pair, and just made the legs skinnier, but I took the curved waistband from a J. Stern jeans pattern. I like the fit, but the width looks a little narrow for the average belt. Not that I do wear belts with my jeans often, because I rarely tuck shirts in, but it would be nice to know I could if I wanted to!

-Work on my rivet skills. I got impatient and bought rivets and buttons from Joann's, even though I have some on order, because they have those now and the others haven't arrived in the mail yet. I broke two button screws trying to hammer this in, because I kept doing it crookedly. I'm not 100% sure I got these rivets and the button right here either, and am fervently hoping that they don't fall out the first time I wash this. My dad basically ended up doing this part for me the last time I made jeans, so I need to learn to wield that hammer properly myself!
Shiny jeans!One last picture. Overall, though there are some minor issues here and there, I'm quite happy with how these turned out. It's nice to have the look of skinny jeans without the feeling of my thighs being poured into sausage casings! Taking my already-drafted pattern and using it for stretch denim worked beautifully, too. I initially cut this with extra-wide seam allowances to allow for any fitting tweaks, but when I basted it together, it was fine as is. I do have one piece of stretch denim to make a future pair out of, and will probably go back to my beloved bootcuts for that. But that won't happen for awhile, since I have several other things I need to finish first!

I'm also laughing at myself, because after all that, I'm not sure if I use these for my DragonCon Amy Pond outfit after all! In most of the pictures I've seen, they focus on Amy's shirt. But I was looking yesterday to see what shoes she's wearing, so I could figure out if I possibly have anything that would work, and I saw this picture and realized her jeans are cropped, and the jeans I was wearing for work at the time were actually a much better length! But these are much less faded, so I have to think about what would be the greater crime against cosplay. Hmm.

Also, despite having used this for two projects now, I still have fabric left! It's a full yard, plus rather large remnants on either end from pieces I had to cut single-layer. So any ideas of what I can do with more stretchy silvery denim?

July 18, 2014

A cautionary tale

See my jeans.

See how close I was to finishing? Topstitching, belt loops, cool fabric for the lining, buttonhole, the works.

I say "was", because as it turns out, following the Craftsy class instructions to stabilize the top edge of that waistband with twill tape means I can barely pull these previously well-fitting jeans over my backside. And the front won't quite overlap as well as it was supposed to. Which means that I now have to undo my entire afternoon's work. Which was actually an afternoon off from my retail job, so it's way more work than I would have gotten done otherwise. I'm so upset!

 I checked, and I do have enough of the denim to cut a new waistband and lining. So I guess that's better than unpicking every single stitch of this. Though I am quite sad that I'm going to lose that waistband lining--that and the pockets was all I had left over from using this fun print to cover a scrapbook awhile back. 

I'm not sure if that means it's always going to be gapping in the back, since now I'll have to use two pieces of stretch fabric vs. one piece of stretch plus one slightly bias non-stretch. I'm afraid to try the twill tape again. But I still feel like I'm going to have to stabilize the back somehow so it's not always riding down on me.

So how would you keep a curved waistband from gapping out in this sort of situation? Have you ever had a completely demoralizing sewing disaster close to the end of a project?

I guess the moral of the story is that girls with curvy butts should take fitting advice from teachers who state they have a flat butt with a very large shaker of salt. If you need me, I guess I have a hot date with my seam ripper.

July 15, 2014

a simple tee

Does this fabric look familiar? It should, since I just used it for my Tiramisu maxi-dress. For once in my life, I got on the stashbusting right away! (I made this in June, but didn't get a chance to post until now.) After I realized that I had a decent yard left over after I cut the dress out, I grabbed this untried top pattern and cut it out, since it was only two pieces. I figured that if it didn't work out, I still had the Tira, but I think it worked out pretty nicely!

This is the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee, which is a free download! I really do love that so many of the indie companies are generous enough to offer some simple patterns for free. I grew up sewing mostly the Big 4, which you can easily get for $1 on sale at Joann's, so the frugal part of my brain really likes getting to try a company out before spending the average $10-25 dollars that the indie patterns usually cost. (I'm not complaining about the price, because I think they're well worth it! I'm just saying that I have a tendency towards being cheap. It's a necessary survival skill when you went into the arts.)

Kirsten Kimono TeeThe top went together quite quickly and easily, since there were only two pieces and a neck binding. The only issue I had with it was that I didn't read the directions before I started, so I didn't realize that seam allowances weren't included! So I just did as narrow a seam as my serger would allow, and then did a narrow hem on the sleeves and shirt bottom as well. It still fits, and actually is quite loose around my waist compared to, say, my Renfrew tops. You can't see it so well in these pictures, since I had to resort to using indoor flash photography in order to get any pictures at all. But the busy print and the drapiness of the knit camouflages it pretty nicely, and keeps it from looking too baggy. Good thing, since it is still quite fitted at my hips. So mental note to self, a thicker knit with less drape probably wouldn't work out so well for me.

Whenever I make this again, I think I'd add some length to the bottom, and especially the sleeves, to make them a little less cap once they're hemmed. But overall, this was a great instant-gratification project!

I'm going to end this post with something I haven't done in awhile, at least for my sewing--an in-progress shot.
IMG_1451 As I've mentioned before, I'm doing the jeans sew-along that Sew Busy Lizzie is hosting. And my progress has been a little slower than I would have liked-- I didn't get much in last week because I had my annual teaching-flute-at-middle-school-day-camp job, and on the night that I'd actually reserved to do some sewing, the power in the entire town went off for the whole evening and didn't come back on until it was too late to start anything! I was home all day on Saturday, so I did make quite a bit of progress then--pretty much everything you see on the front, plus the inseam. But then the power went off again before I could do the topstitching there, so that's where it's stayed. I do have a little extra time off from my retail job this week, so I'm hoping I can finish this up rather quickly now that the hard part (the fly zipper, obviously) is over. At least the sewing part, since I realized I didn't have enough silver rivets on hand and had to place an order.

This is the same denim that I used for my TARDIS skirt back in the fall, and would you believe I still have a yardish of this left? I'm running out of ideas for what to do with shiny metallic stretch denim!

July 9, 2014

sewing swap!

We can all agree that giving and getting goodies in the mail is fun, right? So I decided to participate in this year's Spring Sewing Swap, hosted at Kestrel Makes. I got paired with Emily, who was a blogger I hadn't "met" before. But she makes lovely vintage-inspired things and enjoys going to historic events, so I've enjoyed what I've read of her posts so far!

I got my package in the mail on Monday, and this is what was inside:
 Two pieces of colorful printed cotton (at least, I'm pretty sure it's cotton-- I haven't done a burn test, or even measured them yet!), along with two vintage patterns. Isn't that maxi-dress fun? And the pullover blouse looks like it will be a good, easy-to-customize basic.
Beads! And earring hooks to go with. This is a fun color combination, so I think more jewelry-making will have to happen, once I get a little more caught up on my DragonCon sewing.

There was also this partially-finished dress in a nice jade color, along with the pattern. Several of the pieces are still pinned to the pattern tissue! So I'll have to try this one on and see what needs to be done.

All in all, some very lovely things! Thanks, Emily, and I hope you enjoy what I sent you in return! (I feel bad that yours was packaged so nicely and I had to resort to stuffing them in a post office envelope!)

July 2, 2014

June in review

All things considered, it wasn't a bad month, sewing-wise. I did two of the four challenges for The Monthly Stitch's Indie Pattern Month, busted a couple of pieces of stash, and made some progress towards what I need to get done for DragonCon.

1. Projects completed: 3. There was the Tiramisu maxi-dress, my Tiramisu-Moneta mashup for my Belle costume, and since I had a yardish left of the maxi-dress fabric, I tried out the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. I haven't had a chance to take pictures of it yet, but will try to do so soon. I also hemmed a skirt for the same friend whom I did some prom dress alterations for a few months back--she gave me the skirt at the same time, but I'd been slacking.

I ended up with approximately half a yard left of the blue from the Belle dress, plus some large, oddly shaped scraps. So my stashbusting total for the month is 6 yards used up (2.5 from the Belle dress, and 3.5 from the maxi-dress and Kirsten tee.)

I also added some stash, though-- my mom was cleaning out a bin at her house and found all of these fabrics she'd been given that wouldn't work for quilts, but would work for clothes. So I took four pieces off of her hands, which adds up to about 11 1/2 yards in. Yikes! That light greyish lavender solid piece is going to need some work--there's some rusty-looking stains on it, and that's not a color I'd wear, but I figure it could be a good candidate for a dyeing experiment. And they all need to be washed a second time, because after one trip through the washer and dryer, they still have a weird musty smell. But I'm kind of in love with the colors on that plaid. And already plotting possible shirt ideas for how to use the gingham without the results looking too country, and found some cute ideas on ModCloth, which are now on Pinterest.

Side note--I'm not surprised, but slightly annoyed, that it's so much easier to find stashbusting ideas for fabric I wasn't planning on having than, say, the pieces of brocade that have been sitting in my stash for years!

On the knitting front, I'm making slow progress on my Roheline cardigan. I haven't gotten past the point where I'm increasing every few rows yet, but I tried a sleeve on the other day, and they're almost up to my elbows. I am planning on making the sleeves about an inch longer than the pattern calls for, to accommodate my monkey arms, and I still need to do the shoulders and yoke once I get to the point where I can attach the sleeves to the body, but that gives me hope that I might actually finish this one before it gets cold! Which is good, because I already have my next cardigan picked out and have the yarn for it. I'm also working on a couple of smaller projects on the side. One of which is for a gift. So I'll talk about those later.

One non-clothes thing I made, which might be a little cheesy: an anniversary gift for Doug! Since the traditional gift is paper, and I didn't have a ton of time to make anything, I decided to go with an idea I'd seen on Pinterest awhile back for those nights we want to hang out but aren't sure what to do. I kept the basic principle of different colors for different kinds of dates (at home vs. cheaper nights out vs. dates that take more planning and/or money), but decorated the sticks with scrapbook paper that I already had in addition to the paint. And since I didn't get all of the sticks written on before our anniversary, we did some brainstorming to add some things that fit us a little more than the ideas that were on the original website--there's at least two sticks in there that have something to do with hockey! He liked it, and we did finally have a chance to pull an idea from it for what to do last Friday night (board game night!) So I think this will be a fun thing to have around.

I sat down recently to review my capsule wardrobe list, and all things considered, I've been doing pretty well with it so far! Though I forgot to factor in the DragonCon stuff at the time. So for the upcoming month, here's my goal list:

From the capsule wardrobe: the black maxi-dress, which will be super-fast since it's basically a long knit tank top, and the Reglisse dress, hopefully in time for the Sundress Sewalong that Heather is hosting. Also, the skinny jeans, which I have somewhat started already, at least as far as pattern retracing and altering goes. I'm hoping to get those cut out today and start sewing by the end of the week. They'll double as part of the DragonCon sewing (yay for Doctor Who companions who wear normal everyday clothes!), and the timing is perfect for Lizzy's Jeans in June/July sewalong!

Aside from the jeans, I'm also hoping to knock out the rest of my Belle costume-- I need to make a white top to go underneath the dress, which I'm pretty sure I have something in the stash I can use for that, and a hair bow.  The Monthly Stitch's theme this month is monochromatic (all black and white), so between that and the black dress, I should be good to go! If I have time, I can probably also finish my Amy Pond outfit, since all I'll need to do aside from the jeans is to slightly refashion a plaid top that I found at Goodwill awhile back. But if not, I can easily knock that out in August. I have one other costume to do aside from those, plus buy a wig. (And now that I decided to go with my old Eowyn costume instead of finish the Tauriel costume, I found out yesterday that Simplicity just released a pattern for one of the other Tauriel costumes! Go figure.) I'm trying to get better about being realistic about what I can accomplish in my sewing time, so let's see how I do, shall we?

June 28, 2014

back in the saddle

I've long had an issue where if I feel like I failed at something, I have a really hard time overcoming that sense and picking it up again. There was this one time during my college years where I did a week-long music workshop out of state, and one of the people running a masterclass there was the principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I picked a piece to play for that with the help of my flute professor, worked my tail off on it, and got ripped up one side and down the other for my performance of it. It was a solid two years before I could pick the piece up again to do even a very small performance at a nursing home with it. I used to draw and paint all the time when I was a teenager, and since I dropped out of being an art major after one horrible semester, I've barely been able to pick up a sketchpad--even though I'd love to get back into that sometime, the inspiration just hasn't been there. And even though it wasn't really a failure, ever since that time a couple of years ago where my best friend and I tried selling our wares at a craft fair, and then I set up an Etsy shop to try to get rid of the many, many extra pieces I had afterwards (which sold nothing), I haven't even really tried to make any jewelry.

But Me-Made-May made me miss it. I honestly got more comments about my jewelry on my Instagram pictures and the Flickr group than I did about my clothes! (Not really sure what that means about my style, but oh well.) So I pulled out a couple of my bead boxes and made some stuff during the course of watching a movie with Doug one night a couple of weeks ago. So even though these may not be anything exciting, they're important to me, because it represents finally getting past a mental block. (Also, they're all completely from stash, which is always good!)

IMG_1414I made three necklaces and a bracelet. I haven't had a chance to wear the bottom necklace or the bracelet yet, but I'm wearing the purple one today and I wore the coral one recently. After all of that palette work for the Wardrobe Architect project, I realized that coral and plummy purple were both things I could use more accessories in!


Isn't this pendant cute? My sister-in-law gave it to me for either my birthday or Christmas last year. It's actually a little locket, and the package said fairy door, but we all know it looks like a hobbit hole door, right?


I also made a few pairs of earrings. One of my basic black earrings fell out of my ear and got lost a few months ago, so I needed something to replace it. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for bending the teardrop shapes out of the wire myself! They're also slightly hammered, though you can't really see the texture in this picture. The other ones were basically just making bead drops and dangling them off the pre-made 8 loops.

And then I also made a few more basic beaded earrings. The spiral loop 8's were pre-made like that, but I did the wire wrapping on the purple pair myself.

So that's it!

June 21, 2014

Mone-misu? Tir-etta?

This dress wasn't in my original summer plan, but it was a nice quick make. I cut it out and sewed most of the bodice together on Sunday, sewed the neckline and armholes on Monday, made and attached the skirt on Wednesday, and hemmed it yesterday. It's also nice and comfortable--the fabric is some rayon knit from Mood that I bought specifically for this project. Not so great for the stashbusting, but at least I used it quickly!

IMG_1411This week's Indie Pattern Month contest on The Monthly Stitch is Franken-patterning, so that was part of my inspiration.  The top is based on the Colette Monetta dress, and the bottom is based on the Cake Tiramisu dress, though I modified both parts. For the Monetta top, I squared off the neckline and added seams down the center of both the front and back of the outside pieces. Since I wasn't doing the collar, but I still wanted to line the top, I also had to tweak the clean finish directions a bit--I did that around the neckline, and the lower half of the armholes, but I had to hand-stitch the top of the armholes closed. For the skirt, I cut both halves on the fold instead of seaming it down the middle like the original pattern. It's a pretty plain and simple dress overall, but I think it'll be a good one to play with accessories. Especially since the color is much brighter and cheerier than the average neutral solid knit dress!

So if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I'm a fan of secretly geeky clothes. Now that I've got you thinking this is just a normal knit dress, it's time to ruin the illusion by revealing that this is also going to be a part of one of my DragonCon costumes! I still have a couple components to make for that, but I'll give you a clue: Think Disney bookworm who's fond of teacups.

I'm having trouble with the picture insert, so you can find the picture here. So did I get the gist of it? The idea is to make as many costume bits that can be worn as everyday clothes as possible, so I'm not spending my entire summer sewing things that I'm only going to wear once. And Belle was my favorite when I was a kid--she loved books, she was a fellow brownI'm having trouble inserting the picture, so click here.-eyed girl, and she wasn't afraid to use her head to help her get out of sticky situations. And whack at the wolves with a big stick, even if she wasn't very good at it. What's not to love?
I still need to make a top, apron, and hair bow for this, but I think this dress is a pretty good start.

Speaking of DragonCon, I've recently made the difficult decision to set the Tauriel costume aside. It's been going so slowly, and I've been racking my brains unsuccessfully for 3 months to come up with a good way to sew that armor bodice without making the vinyl tear apart the second I put it on, since I never was able to find a closure for it. Given how much I still need to make for multiple costumes, even though they're more everyday-clothes, and that I'm also going to need to help my best friend with some of hers, it just doesn't make sense to continue when I have a perfectly good Eowyn costume that only needs a blonde wig. Besides, as surprisingly much as I enjoyed Tauriel in the latest Hobbit movie, Eowyn is still cooler. And, you know, actually in the books.

June 13, 2014

they've been chopped

For all of the refashioning that I used to do, I really hadn't done any in awhile. Over the last couple of years, I've been super-focused on stashbusting and making from scratch, so much so that I forgot how fun, and how instantly gratifying, transforming something that's already around can be. It's a whole different group of problems to solve, and a good challenge.

I have two refashions from May to show today. The first is one of my all-time favorite dresses, that sadly wasn't zipping at the top anymore.
MMM'12, Day 13 Remember my Titania dress? I was so proud of this one, since I basically designed it and hand/draped it myself. Though, to be honest, the top wasn't holding up so well. Since I was more or less winging it, the insides weren't finished so great, the fabric was starting to sag around that slit in the front, and gaps were starting to appear where the ends of the binding met around the sleeves. I still love the fabric, and that hand-pleated skirt would have been the hardest thing to let go of. So naturally, I chopped off the top and made this dress into a skirt.

Aside from one random Instagram, I didn't take the time to do too many in-progress shots this time. So what I did was to pin a length of grosgrain ribbon to the midriff panel, leaving an extra-long tab at one end, stitch it, flip it, and use that to make a waistband. The extra-long tab was used to make an underlap, which has a couple of hooks and eyes and snaps and things sewn to it. Aside from that, the only thing I did was to shorten the zipper in the center back.

Titania skirt

And here's the result! It feels a little weird to me since I'm not used to skirts that hit at my natural waist. But with the fullness of the chiffon bit, this skirt makes me think of ballet. I feel like this will be a lot more versatile as a skirt than it was as a dress, since I can also dress it down depending on my top and footwear. So all in all, I feel like this was a success.

Skinny-ish jeans

As for the second project, this one had a preview during Me-Made-May. I bought a few pairs of jeans at the thrift shop near the end of the winter, because I had a couple of pairs shrink or wear out completely (to the point where they had to be relegated to work jeans--yes, I have a separate set of jeans that I only wear to the garden center, because I don't care if they get messed up by dirt or paint or whatever other random things I have to get into there--or just gotten rid of completely), and I knew I wouldn't have time to make jeans anytime soon. Yay, spring. One of the pairs I bought fit me adequately well through the waist and hips, but they were just a little too short to look good with regular flat shoes. I don't have a before picture, so just think flared jeans that were awkwardly hitting right around my ankle.

Here's the after--I was intending to make it more of a skinny jeans silhouette, but discovered while I was working with it that the fabric would be much happier with a straight, slightly tapered cut. There wasn't any stretch to the denim, so it made sense. All I did was take the side seams apart up to about the knee, pin them down the length of my leg (much to Doug's amusement, since I was also wearing them inside out at the time), sew in the zippers, and re-stitch the hem. The zippers ended up being unnecessary in the end, since I can pull them on and off easily without unzipping them, but I like the detail that they add. I do still plan to make some more jeans, and am hoping to tackle some skinny jeans this month because I do need them before DragonCon. Because of reasons.

I do have to say that I was really surprised at how easily these jeans came apart! The nice thing for refashioning purposes was that each side of the outer leg seams was individually finished on the serger, so I didn't have to unpick a bunch of serging. But if I unpicked it in the right place, the seams came apart quite quickly, and the hems pretty much entirely unraveled with the tug of a thread. I would have thought the quality would have been slightly better, given the Tommy Hilfiger label on them!

And, since it's Friday, I'll leave you with a silly outtake picture. Silly dog can't resist an opportunity to photobomb me!

June 8, 2014


IMG_1388Last summer, Cindy at Cation Designs posted a maxi-dress made from the popular Cake Patterns Tiramisu dress. I’ve been wanting to try this hack since, and finally got around to finishing it on Thursday! I figured that I have made this dress once before, and it’s knit, so it should come together fast, right?

Note to self: If you’re going to go to the trouble of keeping a notebook where you write down changes you’ve made to patterns so you can go back and alter the pattern later, don’t lose the bloody notebook. (I guess it’s time to clean my sewing room again, sigh!)

The first time around, I had a bit of trouble getting the bust to fit right. But in typical fashion, I didn’t actually bother to make changes to the pattern before moving on to the next project. I’m impatient like that. So of course, when I sewed up the neckline this time, it was saggy and sad-looking. Which means I had to resort to unpicking several inches of serging in the middle, overlapping it more, and serging it again.

IMG_1337It’s still not perfect, but at least the weight of the skirt pulls it down enough that it sits mostly flat now! At least, as long as I'm not trying to do the typical Tiramisu pose of bending over to show how much it's not gapping. (Please ignore the scary Gollum face. And my posture. Rounded back much?) It’s not too big in the chest, just the neckline, so I need to do some research to figure out what adjustment to make for next time. Maybe if I just take a wedge out of the neck or something?

The fabric was a Christmas gift from my mom this past year–the really great thing about having a mother who also sews is that I can tell her my ideas for things I want to make, and she finds great fabric prints for me! And only living in the stash for 6 months is pretty amazing, by my standards. The other really nice thing about this particular print, aside from the fact that so many colors I love are in it, is that it was so abstract, I didn’t have to worry about matching at all. That helped a lot with the speed of sewing things together.

Aside from my fitting quick fix, here’s the changes I made:
  • Lengthened the skirt to about 37″ (95.25cm)
  • Made the skirt panels narrower from about the hips down, for the super-practical reason that they were too wide at the bottom for my lengthwise-folded fabric otherwise!
  • Added clear elastic to both the shoulder seams and the lower midriff band seam to help support the weight

Click to go to voting page
I took a couple of pictures on Friday night so I could get my post up on The Monthly Stitch in time for the Indie Pattern Month dress competition. Voting is open now, so if you're so inclined, I'd appreciate any votes that I can get!  

Aside from that, I debuted the dress yesterday, when Doug and I went down to Washington, D.C. for the day. The nice thing about living on the East coast is that it's really easy to get places, and this particular day trip is only about a 2-hour drive one way for us. We were celebrating our one-year anniversary, which is actually today! And, competition aside, I really wanted to get this dress done in time for the trip, because I wanted something that would be breezy and comfortable enough for walking around the city in 80+ degree temperatures (we went to the National Zoo and the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum), but dressy enough for the evening's finale at a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. It worked out really well for both purposes, I think!

Also, watching a panda eat bamboo is pretty adorable. Am I right?

June 6, 2014

Me-Made-May final thoughts

Me Made May 2014

I sat down with my Flickr photostream and did a quick run-through of the month. And here's what I found:
  • For silhouettes, the ones I figured out were pretty close to what I actually wore. The top 3 were some variation of the fitted top/flowy or A-line skirt, semi-fitted top with pants, and fitted to semi-fitted top with jeans. There were only a couple of outliers from my original silhouette post, mostly a couple of looser tops with more fitted/straightish skirts, and fitted tops with looser pants.
  • My color palette was also really close to what I actually wore. Since I was counting colors that were part of prints, and jeans mostly as navy, black and navy were definitely the most-worn colors, with chocolate and grey not far behind. For the more statement colors, (not surprisingly) teal and (surprisingly) sunflower yellow popped up the most, with the latter being due to prints and accessories. 
  • If you don't count various other shades of blue and green that are close to, but not quite, what I marked for my palette, I only had a few instances of colors that weren't in it.
  • I was surprised to see that there was just as much white as there was ivory. But I think that's more due to what I already had. I know now to try to steer away from the stark white for future fabric purchases, with the possible exception of mixed into prints, because I do think ivory looks better on me.
So in terms of practical application, I guess I thought through the exercises pretty well, overall!

Other related thoughts:
  • Trying to pick an outfit to wear after my job, without the benefit of time to check it in the mirror/know what the weather is doing is challenging. Working 3 out of the 5 Saturdays was challenging, too.
  • I need more royal blue in my life. And some coral, since I really only had the one shirt.
  • I actually got more comments on my accessories than I did on my clothes! It made me miss making jewelry. So I sat down on Saturday, pulled the beads out, and made some more. I'll probably post about that later.
  • I need to branch out into some accessories that aren't jewelry, maybe. 
  • I did have fewer outfits this year that I just wasn't happy with, so that's good. When I wasn't happy, it seemed to be a proportion issue. So that's something I'll need to work on.
  • I was surprised at how many things didn't get worn this month. Mostly in the realms of skirts, dresses, and summer tops. It felt like an unusually chilly May overall here, though we did have some warm days, and I was tending to err on the side of dressing warmer (meaning lots more pants). I have been wearing some of the things that didn't make the cut since the month ended, though, since it has finally started to stay consistently warmer.
  • That being said, I only had two repeats the entire month! The charcoal Thurlows, and my jeans. Also, Pantsapalooza was a good move, because I would have been in serious trouble without all of those pants to choose from!
  • Going the Instagram route was a good move, too. The daily pictures still got tedious by the end, but a lot less so than if I'd been trying to force my SLR on people.
  • With a couple exceptions, namely my convertible dress, I found that the outfits I was more likely to feel bored about when I really looked at them consisted of all solids. I was less bored when there was more textural interest in the fabric, or instances like on day 4 when I had a printed scarf. I know solids have their place, but clearly, I am a printaholic.
  • I'm also a bit of a clotheshorse, apparently-- I was reading some discussion on the Coletterie about how people found they found they were happier with fewer clothes. Me, I like having lots of options!
So how did your Me-Made-May go, overall? Any wardrobe revelations? 

Aside from that, here's May in a nutshell:
  • Total fabric used up: about 3.6 yards.
  • Total fabric purchased: 7 yards. Though two of the three pieces are for specific DragonCon-related projects, and therefore have to be used up by the end of August. (The third was just a piece of denim-looking knit that was on sale, from Mood, for a very good price!) So not so great on the Stash Diet end of things, even though I can technically count the DC stuff as part of my exception rules.
  • No new patterns purchased, and I did try one new one (the Tofino pjs.)
  • Total sewing projects completed: 4--two refashions that I will post about soon, the Plantain cardigan, and the Tofino pjs. I also made a couple pairs of earrings, about 3 necklaces, and a bracelet.
  • In the UFO realm, I also made some good progress on the Tauriel costume since my last post about it, though the first piece of it still isn't done. I'm also still knitting away at my grey cardigan, though it's been very stop and start as of late due to both cramming in sewing time instead, not being home, and the intermittent carpal tunnel issues that always flare up for me in spring.

June 1, 2014

Me-Made-May 14, part 4

Let's just jump right in, shall we?
#mmmay14 me-made @sewaholicdotnet Gabriola skirt & earrings, #firefly tee, Birkenstocks.Day 23: Since I wanted to pull out my Gabriola at least once this month, I drew from one of the potential pairings I did in my round-up back then, just with sandals and earrings that I unpaired from their matching necklace. Yes, that is the exact same Firefly shirt from those photos. But that's ok.

WA analysis: Obviously, this fits the geeky side! And I'm really liking the fitted tee with long skirt look. More Gabriolas may need to happen so I have things to wear with other geeky tees in my possession...Oh, and there's orange in the skirt, which is a palette color that hasn't happened much this month. Probably because I tend to wear that more in the fall.

Incidentally, since I didn't get a picture of the back of the shirt, it says "I aim to misbehave".
Me-made necklace/earrings, refashioned jeans, thrifted t-shirt. Haven't left the house, so no shoes! #mmmay14
Day 24: This was the first Saturday all month that I didn't have to work! I stayed home and worked on my Tauriel costume all day. It was glorious. Aside from the cavegirl-looking necklace, my me-made was a pair of recently refashioned jeans that I'm hoping to post about in more detail soon. I paired it with a slouchy, colorful, thrifted t-shirt with a koi fish design on it.

WA analysis: I'd mentioned looser top and fitted pants as a potential silhouette, but this is the first time it's actually happened. Mostly because this is the closest thing I currently own to skinny jeans, since my one thrifted pair accidentally shrank and I had to give them away as a result. This angle isn't the best, since I look like I have one leg (the fantasy lit geek in me is screaming "dufflepud"), but I was happy with this as a weekend look.

Me-mades: jewelry, tea Cambie! I love this fabric so much. #mmmay14Day 25 (ignore the caption, I got my days wrong): Of course I had to get my "Everyone Deserves Tea" Cambie in sometime this month! I wore this for church and for a good chunk of the afternoon while having lunch with my family. I went a little fancier with accessories this time, with my silver gladiator sandals and some jewelry that I'd originally made for my mom to go with a dress to wear to a cousin's wedding. She gave me the dress (which I've never actually had occasion to wear since) afterwards, along with the jewelry.

WA analysis: Can't go wrong with blue. And this dress is actually super-comfortable to wear! I've been happy with this as a warm-weather outfit so far, but think I seriously need to consider some layering pieces to bring this into the cooler months, too. I'd still love to make some kind of ivory Carmine jacket, so that could be a good pairing whenever I get the fabric and the time.

Me-mades: Top (Sadie tank by BurdaStyle), earrings. Also the same pants I wore to work earlier. #mmmay14
Day 26: Memorial Day here in the States! Though it's not really a holiday when you work in retail. I did take the day off of teaching, so once I got home around 3, I just threw on my purple Sadie tank with the cropped khakis that I'd already worn to the shop, and some me-made earrings.

WA analysis: Not the most exciting outfit, and I probably would have gone for more of a print top if I'd had the option in me-mades.

Me-made convertible dress & earrings, thrifted sandals. #mmmay14Day 27: A rather warm day here! So I decided to go for comfort, and paired some thrifted sandals with my convertible dress,  wrapped to give a little more coverage since I was teaching, and some simple beaded earrings. The sandals ended up not being the best move--I had to stop at the bookstore to pick up a book I'd been waiting all year for, and those sandals made it a bit hard to hurry to my car during the thunderstorm that started up just as I got there!

WA analysis: Practicality issues of footwear and monsoons aside, I did like the way these particular sandals looked with the dress. And even though the dress is solid, it feels less boring to me since the wrap ties add more texture and interest.

I forgot how short this skirt turned out! Me-made Cake Hummingbird skirt/necklace, purchased top. #mmmay14Day 28: Still fairly warm today, so I paired a purchased military-styled black top with my green hemp Hummingbird skirt and one of my more intricately beaded necklaces.

WA analysis: The colors are great, and again, the details in the top make it feel a little more interesting in spite of the solids. The looser top/tighter skirt isn't a silhouette I'd called out before, but it looks ok here. I did forget how short this skirt is, though, at least by my standards! I spent a good bit of the time wearing it tugging the hemline down, and am serioI usly wondering how I'll feel about it if I make some Espresso leggings to wear with it!

#mmmay14 Made the pants and jewelry. May need to rethink this top. My torso looks rather oddly short in this pic.

Day 29: The temperatures took a nose-dive--it was a full 20 degrees colder today! So it was back to digging through my 3/4 sleeved-tops to try to find something I hadn't worn yet, and pairing it with one of my more experimental necklaces and the charcoal Thurlows. (Yes, it's the charcoal, though I know they look more blue here.)

WA analysis: I don't know if it's the length of the thrifted top, which is a little more cropped than usual, or the angle of the photo, but my torso looked oddly short in this one! I've had this top for awhile and like the colors and print, but this is making me seriously wonder if I should hang on to it!

Me-made blouse/jewelry, purchased jeans and tank top. #mmmay14Day 30: A slightly more casual teaching day. I paired my Painter's blouse with a turquoise tank, jeans, and my water element jewelry. This was also good for taking me through dinner out and grocery shopping!

WA analysis: I normally don't go for the more faded denim--these are honestly the same jeans I wore to work. I think it worked with the lighter top, though. I felt comfortable and casual in this outfit, though I'm quite glad I had multiple colors in the jewelry!

Last day! Me-made jeans and earrings, #lotr t-shirt, Chucks. #mmmay14

Day 31: Last day! I kept it casual for the finale, because my day included helping Doug take our two dogs to the vet and helping my best friend pack and move some boxes into her new place. So it's my jeans, a different geeky t-shirt, and a different pair of goldish beaded earrings.

And that's a wrap! Though I want to do one more general round-up/Wardrobe Architect analysis at some point soon.