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?

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.






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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.)


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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.








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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

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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!

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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?


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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.

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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!