April 19, 2014

everyone deserves a tea dress

It's no secret that tea is my favorite beverage in the entire world. I grew up spoiled on home-brewed iced tea made from real tea bags, and branched out into hot tea in my college years when I discovered that no matter how many all-nighters I was pulling, I will never, ever like the taste of coffee. It all started with discovering chai in the coffee shops, and went uphill from there. I started going for nice loose-leaf teas somewhere within the last 6-7 years, and I literally have an entire drawer in my kitchen that is dedicated to tea.
tea drawer See? (For the record, Doug is the one who organized this for me. He's really good at that sort of thing.)

I love my tea drawer.












Tiny teacupI also love this dress! You may recall that this fabric was part of my Christmas haul, and only being in the stash for less than 4 months is pretty amazing for me. I wanted to get to this quickly anyway, and the Sew Dolly Clackett event was pretty much the perfect excuse. So it's the perfect dress to sip a cuppa in.



















Real teacup!Just kidding....THIS is what passes for a cup of tea in my world! The mug even says so.

The dress is the Cambie, of course, to continue my theme of all things Sewaholic that seems to be happening this year. Though this is the first "real" Cambie that I've made, since the wedding dress version was so heavily altered and didn't even use the skirt. This time, I cut a straight size 10, because I was going by the bust size and figured the skirt would be ok. I also decided right off the bat to use Tasia's tutorial for the "slightly less sweet" straight neckline, because it looked like it would fit better with the more-or-less linear pattern. I took in the back darts a little bit after the muslin stage. When I got to the point where I was ready to sew the lining in, I discovered that the neckline was gapping. Odd, since it didn't do that on the muslin! So my quick fix for that was to add some darts at the top, right around where the sleeve/strap things meet the bodice.  Whenever I end up making this again, I'll probably just go back to my wedding dress fix and convert the top to princess seams.

Tea CambieThe pattern matching could have been better, I guess-- I did try, and did fairly well in several places! But I didn't think to factor in the flare of the skirt, and that skewed things a bit. In my defense, the teacups aren't exactly in a straight line, either. I checked. With a 6" wide ruler. It's not as fitted as I usually make my dresses either, but I think that will actually be a good thing. I recently had to weed several of my handmade dresses that I've had for years out of the closet, because slight post-honeymoon weight gain means they just don't zip up anymore! But those dresses were overall very fitted at the waist, and wovens, and so I think a little extra wiggle room will be a good thing. Especially for things like breathing while playing my flute, and the mid-Atlantic heat/humidity. You know, if it ever actually gets warm and stays there.







Tea Cambie closeupThe dress is completely lined in the ivory cotton sateen that I've already used to line two other dresses. And I still have about a yard left! I also have about 1/3 yard of the teacup fabric left, which will be perfect for something like jeans pockets. So here's my stashbusting totals:

Total fabric out: Approximately 5 1/4 yards.
Total stash left: Approximately 312.19 yards. Though this total will be going up soon, sadly, because I had a box of stuff I accidentally left at my parents' come home with me recently, and there is some actual yardage in with the scraps. So I need to measure and update.

Oh, and before I forget: I've been going back and forth on this, and I've decided to go ahead and sign up for Me-Made May anyway. So my pledge:

I, Becky, pledge to wear at least one handmade garment and one handmade accessory every day, for the duration of May. (I think my focus is going to be on testing out what I've been playing with in the Wardrobe Architect series, particularly the palette and silhouette picks. Incidentally, with the navy and ivory, this dress fits right in!)

April 3, 2014

Wardrobe Architect, weeks 9-11: The Capsule Wardrobe

I'm combining the last few weeks, since it makes sense to put them all together anyway. Plus I got kind of stuck on the silhouette thing for a bit. I came to the definite conclusion to not worry about spring in my wardrobe plan. Honestly, I'm still wearing a lot of my winter clothes, and it's April! What's up with that?! Plus I know I have limited sewing time for awhile, so I'd rather work with what I have now and sew for the next season. I also thought it best to try to work with fabrics and patterns that I have as much as possible. Because, you know, stashbusting.

So with a focus of summer into early fall, here's what I have in mind for my capsule wardrobe:
Silhouettes:
1. Fitted to semi-fitted top, knee-length flared/A-line skirt. I figure this can be either dresses or separates, and I'm thinking along the lines of this, minus the seasonal transition half on the right side:


2. Maxi-dress! This one shows with a denim jacket, which is probably good for summer layering as needed. Alternately, a maxi-skirt with a fitted top would work well. I do love me a flowy skirt in the summer.



3. Fitted top with fitted to semi-fitted pants/jeans. I may have to throw shorts into this category-- I avoid wearing them when I can, but sometimes you really do need a pair or two for situations where a skirt is overdoing it. Like hanging out at the park. Or my retail job where I'm sitting outside in 90-100+ degree temperatures for hours. Ugh. And I really don't have many shorts at all by this point.




Color palette: 
Like I said, I wanted to go with things that are in my stash as much as possible. And I already had several projects in mind. Mainly involving these 3 fabrics:
Fun, right?















So this is the palette that I pulled from here:


The yellow is mostly going to come through in the prints, but I do need some warm colors in my wardrobe! And no green this time (aside from what's in that one print), surprisingly, but I do have quite a few green things by now, and I've been feeling a need to have more purple in my closet for awhile now. And royal blue, because I don't have a ton of that at the moment either.

The pieces:
Sarai suggested going through your closet and seeing what you already have that fits the palette and silhouettes first, so I'm going to start with that, and then make my sewing wishlist.

What I have:
Tops: my purple Sadie tank, my French Vanilla knit top, black and ivory camisoles, a basic black v-neck tee and tank, a longer/flowier black tank with ivory trim, a drapier cowl-neck ivory tank, a black semi-fitted pullover blouse, my knitted Odyssey tank, a thrifted plum-colored short-sleeve knit top, a couple of graphic t-shirts
Bottoms: A basic black a-line skirt, a shorter dark denim skirt, my TARDIS skirt, my charcoal and navy Thurlows. (Charcoal's close enough to black for this purpose.) Also a couple pairs of jeans. I'll throw my sunflower skirt into this as well, because it does have the blue and purple.
Dresses:  None that fit the palette. Honestly, I had to recently get rid of the majority of my dresses due to some weight gain/fitting issues. (No, I'm not pregnant, I just gained a little weight after the wedding, probably from basically eating out at fancy restaurants for every meal during our resort honeymoon--and maybe a few too many strawberry daquiris--and I'm having trouble getting it to go away again.) So this is an area of my wardrobe that could use a few things for sure.
Layering pieces: a plum 3/4 sleeve jacket, my reconstructed black short-sleeved cardigan

What I hope/plan to make: (all from stash unless otherwise noted)
Pile o' stash!!


Tops:

  1. A navy daisy-print tank, most likely a slightly modified Sorbetto.
  2. A royal blue button-down blouse, from a Burda mag. I've had the idea for awhile now, but I'm too lazy to look up the pattern.
  3. A navy Archer blouse, which will probably be closer to the fall.
  4. A striped ivory knit tee--hoping to use the Plantain but we'll see if I have enough fabric.
Bottoms:
  1. Fitted/skinny-ish jeans. I think I'm going to attempt to use up the denim from the TARDIS skirt to figure this out, because I have an idea for how I can make it a design feature if I need to make them a bit roomier, thanks to the shiny side.
  2. Thurlow shorts. I think I might have just enough of the navy and charcoal denims from the pants to squeeze some out. And it's not like I don't know how to fit this pattern by now, am I right?
  3. Solid black Thurlow pants, which I do not currently have fabric for.
  4. Possibly some black Clover pants-- I have fabric that will work, but have not tested this pattern yet. So we'll see if I get to it.
  5. If I have time, a Pavlova skirt. The fabric I have is currently white with black polka dots, but I'm planning to dye it. 
  6. I also have a plum skirt that I can do a quick refashion of to make it a better skirt.

Dresses:
  1. A navy/ivory Cambie (which is actually going to be one of my next projects)
  2.  A plum/yellow/royal/white Darling Ranges. This may be closer to fall, it depends on whether I decide to stick with the elbow-length sleeves or make them shorter.
  3. A yellow/white/turquoise Reglisse dress. I'm planning on fully underlining this in gold Bemberg, both for opacity and in hopes that it gives the white a little more of an ivory tone.
  4. A plum/green/white/ knit Tiramisu maxi-dress
  5. A black tank knit maxidress, from McCall's 6559. (I know, it looks a lot like the Mission Maxi, and normally I'd be all about supporting the indie designers, but I got the pattern from less than $1.)
Layering pieces:
  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. I wanted to make the jacket, but I only have a yard of the knit. Oh well.
  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.

I'm hoping this isn't horribly over-ambitious of me. Especially since I still have some costume sewing to do (or start-- I just finished cutting the one part of my Tauriel costume out on Tuesday), some refashion projects I'd love to get to on the side, I do need some summer pajamas, and I also would love to get a Cooper bag made up before the end of the summer. And I do have a winter coat that will need replacing, which I really should try to start by the beginning of September. I figure the knits will go fast, especially since they're mostly patterns I've used before. So we'll see how this goes.

April 2, 2014

Happenings in my corner of the internet

No pictures this time...just a few things of interest lately.

First of all, I wanted to thank those who responded to the Spring Cleaning swap! Out of the 16 patterns I offered up, I got requests for 6 of them, which is not bad at all. My work hours for the next 2 days are shorter, as I had some rearranging with my lessons and only have the garden center job tomorrow, so I plan to get those packaged up and out in the mail by the weekend. I think I'm going to put the remaining ones up in the Flickr group, since there's still the ongoing swap for the year there and one of them was actually requested through it anyway.

I have a little package of my own to look forward to--Gail had this cool piece of bamboo-printed rayon denim that she offered up, and my name got picked! Thanks, Gail! I'm already plotting what I can do with it, though I'll have to check my own pattern stash for yardages and all.

Now that it's April, I finally have some tangible progress on the March Sewcialist theme. Haha. I haven't sewed a stitch yet, but I did finally finish cutting out the first garment for my costume yesterday. I guess it's something. 

Saving the best for last, because I got good news today...Pattern Review's independent designer spotlight of the month was for Sewaholic Patterns, and they were running a contest to get some more reviews of her work up there. The prize was that two randomly drawn people would win a voucher for 3 Sewaholic patterns, and I found out today that my Robson coat review was one of the ones picked! Which leaves me with the question: what patterns to choose? Honestly, I might have to wait for her to release some more, because I already have almost all of them...

March 30, 2014

March Stash Diet Update

It was a slow month for me, mostly due to going back to my second job/agreeing to hem that prom dress. Which is now DONE, aside from pressing the hem. (Which I'm honestly considering skipping, since the fabric is cheap poly jersey and I'm afraid of melting it!) But I still made some progress.

Sewing totals:
Total projects completed: 3 (the Robson coat, the bibs, and one more last-minute project that I'll show below), though I at least started my Shieldmaiden March costume. Even if I didn't get past the cutting stage.
Total fabric out: 17 yards (including 5 given away for Sew Grateful week)
Total fabric in: 2.5 yards. I went to Joann's the other day to get some notions, and ended up buying some stretch denim-- I had a credit for number of pieces used up, it was on sale, and I do legitimately need some jeans. Also, the only denim I had that isn't the metallic leftovers from the TARDIS skirt was non-stretch, and I think I'm going to need a little more give in my jeans.
Difference: -15.5 yards. It's going down!!
Total stash left: approximately 322 yards. Which is a lot closer than you'd think to what I said the February totals were, but I had that Excel issue to blame for that.
Pieces of fabric completely used up: 4, plus 2 given away. That makes 11 for the year so far, and 2 more before I have another fabric credit.
Patterns used: 2, since I'm not counting in-progress stuff until the month it's done.

Knitting totals:
Total projects completed: 1 (a scarf)
Total yarn out: 100 yards, plus whatever I've done on WIPs.
Total yarn in: None this month... I probably should have done this in February, since I did buy several then for the next Craftsy class.
Difference: I can't really accurately assess this, since I didn't do the math...
Skeins of yarn completely used up: None, though I am SO, SO close with the yarn from that scarf.
Total stash left: I added it up again, since I'd never added in the February purchases, and I'm now at approximately 21,859 yards. Yiiiiikes.

So, this last-minute project... I already mentioned that Doug and I were spring cleaning our house this weekend. We made a Target run after we finished up so we could get a few new things for the house--he hated the shoe rack I brought with me and wanted a more stable one, I needed to get some mailing envelopes so I can send out swap patterns, etc. One of the things we agreed on was to get some new living room curtains--there's 2 layers there, and our dogs have this habit of looking out the window and jumping up to hit the windowsill anytime people pass out front. So the sheer ones got torn. I've hated the outer layer from day 1--it was this ugly colonial-type blue that didn't really go with the pale green wall color, but the thing that really bugged me is that the tops had horizontal pleats, one was pleated further down than the other, and one curtain was shorter than the other! (#sewcialistproblems, am I right?) I had the thought that morning, and mentioned it to him, that I should just make new curtains for the kitchen sliding glass doors and move the kitchen curtains to the living room, since I'd bought the fabric to do so before we got married and it would save us some money. He agreed, so after we got home, I knocked out a new pair of curtains in about 3 1/2 hours.

Kitchen curtainsThe top is the curtains that have been there since I met him, the bottom is the new set.

I'm not a fancy curtain person--I'd rather let the fabric print do the talking than deal with pleats and gathers and whatnot. So I kept these super-simple. They're unlined, folded over at the top to make a casing for the curtain rod, and the other 3 edges hemmed. Literally all I did for cutting was fold the piece of fabric in half length-wise, cut it, and then finish the edges. So not the most exciting project from a sewing standpoint, but my kitchen looks so much happier now, and the living room looks warmer, and it was a really satisfying project to finish for something so simple. Plus it knocked 5 yards out of my stash just like that, even though I'm not counting home dec fabrics towards my new fabric allowances, and cleared a nice chunk of space off of my shelf.

March 29, 2014

So who wants to swap some stuff?

Andrea, Gail, and Morgan-- the masterminds behind the Stash Diet-- have come up with another fun stashbusting idea. In the interest of decluttering, they're hosting a Spring Cleaning Swap Meet! I'm also in a mood to spring clean and declutter some. My husband and I spent several hours last night cleaning about half of our house--ok, he cleaned about half the house, all I did was the kitchen and the living room windows. That kitchen took forever! Though in my defense, it was a really deep clean. And we still have more cleaning to do today.  Anyway. So I dug through my stash and found a whole stack of patterns that I'm ok with parting with. Honestly, these are just the never-been-used ones, so I'm going to have to go through again and figure out which patterns I've tried that just aren't for me.

I'll ship these pretty much anywhere, though if it's outside of North America, I wouldn't mind if you're willing to chip in on shipping costs. I'm also going to keep it simple this time and say first come, first served. So here's what's up for grabs. (The two with the glasses are pictures that I didn't realize duplicated in the collage until after it was already on Flickr, and I'm too lazy to redo it.) And since I probably won't be able to get these out right away, let's say I'll leave this open till April 1.

swap patterns

  1. Simplicity #2700, sizes 14-22. They're pretty similar to the Thurlows, and I know that one works for me.
  2. J. Stern Designs #37 Women's Jeans, sizes 12W-24W. Generously given to me by the designer when I took her class on Pattern Review twice, because I was having so much trouble with fitting, along with the Misses size. I'm keeping that one for myself, but would love to see this one go to someone who can use it.   TAKEN by Linda.
  3. Vogue #8781, sizes 8-16. Just too corporate for my lifestyle.
  4. New Look #6977, sizes 6-16. For knits. I kind of feel like I'm too old for this one for some reason. TAKEN by Paskiaq.
  5. Simplicity #4220, sizes 8-16. I bought this mainly for the top, but I have other similar things. TAKEN by Dottie.
  6. Simplicity #2369, sizes 8-16. For knits. Also bought for the top, which I'm no longer feeling.
  7. Simplicity #2344, sizes 10-18. I liked the jacket, but I have tons of jacket patterns that interest me more for now. The top is a knit, the rest are woven.
  8. McCall's #5105, sizes X-Small-Medium. I have TNT top patterns that pretty much cover these silhouettes.
  9. Simplicity #1915, sizes 6-14. I thought the waist casing would be enough fitting for my taste, but the Wardrobe Architect project has changed my mind.
  10. Simplicity #1910, sizes 6-14. Bought as a possibility for the skirt of my wedding dress, but I didn't use it.
  11. Butterick #5212, sizes 8-14. A bit more low-cut than I'm comfortable with.
  12. Simplicity #3559, sizes 6-14. So cute, and totally wrong for me. I've learned the hard way that sheath dresses don't work on me at all.  TAKEN via Flickr by Frau Sma.
  13. Simplicity #7090, sizes 12-18. Not feeling it anymore, but a teenager learning to sew might love it. TAKEN by Becky
  14. Vogue #8099, one size. I don't even know how I got this pattern--probably something my mom was destashing herself.
  15. Simplicity #4543, sizes 8-14. I've also learned the hard way that skirts with wide yokes don't work on me at all, either. TAKEN by Becky
  16. Simplicity #2416, sizes 10-18. I was looking for a good maxi-skirt pattern, I still think the seaming is interesting, but I'm highly unlikely to make it now that I have the Gabriola skirt.

I have one other thing I can offer up, too, though due to bulk, I'll have to limit this one to the US.

Some time ago, when I first started knitting, I snagged a couple of sweaters at the thrift store and unraveled them as part of an experiment to see how much, if any, wool I can handle. You can see the original sweaters here. The offwhite one got trashed, the grey is currently being knit into my Roheline cardigan, and this is the greenish one. I was going to attempt to do something with it, but it seems that even tiny percentages of wool and myself don't get along, because my hands were still feeling prickly from handling this long enough to take a photo for Twitter, about an hour later. So here's the details:
  • Yes, I washed this sweater before I frogged it.
  • If I estimated right, based on the measurements on my swift and wpi, there's approximately 1475 yards in a sport-weight. Though the plys seem to want to loosen up quite a bit, so it might be better off doubled for actually knitting. 
  • Divided into 12 skeins of various sizes, based on how the sweater was unraveling.
  • Original sweater gauge is 4x4” square = 20 stitches, 28 rows in stockinette. 
  • Fiber content is 74% polyester, 11% mohair, 7% acrylic and 8% wool.
It's a pretty color scheme of olive, pale yellow, blue and a darker green and brown all twisted together, and I really wish that my skin could handle it. If no one wants it, I'll just toss it or donate it back to the thrift store-- no harm done, since I only paid $3.50 for all of this yarn.
 

March 28, 2014

a post of small things, part 2

To continue from the other day...though these are slightly bigger things.


1. So you remember back when I was making that wedding dress, and I had to muslin the top of the Cambie dress 4 times to get it to fit? Obviously, planning a wedding was messing with my judgment, because this was my thought process at the time: "The bulk of the dress is going to be supported from the waist, so I should fit the waist first and then adjust the bust to fit, even though this is for pear-shaped figures. Even if it takes me multiple FBA's and eventual conversion of the darts to a princess-seamed top." (Which it did.) 

Well, somewhere in the moving process, I lost the final muslin. And I never actually made those changes to the pattern, because I was sewing a wedding dress/packing and moving all my stuff/often working 6 days a week, and who had time to alter tissue patterns for later projects? But the next thing I have planned to sew, aside from the costume, is a "real" Cambie. And since I'm using a bigger table at my parents' house to cut out the costume, I dug into my refashion bin one night recently and found something to chop up and do a quick mock-up, which I'm hoping to turn into a wearable top at some point. Makes me feel better about muslin time, if I get something actually wearable out of it. But this time, I cut the size based on the bust, because it's ok for a casual summer dress to be a little looser at the waist. Around here, it might even be preferable.

Clearly, I should have done this for the wedding dress, too. This is straight out of the envelope, with the only alterations being that I took the back darts in a tiny bit and did Tasia's straight neckline variation. Oh well...live and learn, I guess.

For the record, I know the neckline looks gappy, but when I fold the seam allowance under, it seems to be fine. There's also some diagonal wrinkles at the sides, but the weight of the skirt should pull that out in the real version. I think I could probably take the front darts in maybe 1/8". Any thoughts, before I start chopping up my pretty dress fabric?

2. In other news, I'm having a surprisingly tough time with last week's Wardrobe Architect assignment. It's one thing to assemble silhouettes that I'm drawn to for various seasons, and another to use that to plot out a capsule wardrobe. I think where I'm getting hung up is the spring/summer bit--I already have a few projects in the queue that I'd really like to get to this season, and it's not necessarily stuff that would make for a cohesive chunk of my wardrobe. And I haven't really had a whole lot of time to sew in the past week or so. When I have, it's basically been that Cambie top mockup or working on a prom dress that I agreed to shorten for a friend of mine. (Only because she's a good friend that I see regularly--I'd already turned down one request this spring from someone else who I haven't actually seen in years but am friends with on Facebook.) For now, this week's assignment on colors is inspiring me more, and the more I think about this, the more I think I may be better off skipping spring altogether and focus on the summer, or even summer into early fall, since that will allow me time to get these next couple of projects done first. So I'll come back to these later.

March 26, 2014

a post of small things, part 1

None of these are really the sort of thing that warrant an entire post by itself, so this is going to be more of a round-up. Which I'm actually going to do in 2 parts, because otherwise it's going to be super-long. So I'm going to start with what I've actually been working on or finishing up lately, and then move to the things I have to think through a little more tomorrow.


1. First off, my most recent completed sewing project. I've used this bib pattern before, though I think this may unintentionally be the last time-- I left it on the kitchen table and now it's not there, so I'm thinking that the dogs ate it. (Our dogs are the type who would have legitimately eaten my homework when I was a kid. They recently ate our checkbook, as evidenced by the fact that we recently found a quarter of one check with a chewed-up edge on the floor....and we haven't found any other remnants of it!) I hope I can find it or something similar again. It was an online freebie, though I can't remember from where since I downloaded it years ago. I like that it's a larger size to keep clothes cleaner, and this has become my go-to for the homemade portion of any baby shower gifts. And I have another friend who recently found out she's pregnant, so I know I'm going to need it again in the next few months!

I made this set for one of my oldest friends, who is expecting a baby girl in May. It's kind of neat when you unintentionally choose perfect fabric--I needed a little more on a recent order to get free shipping when I picked up something for my Tauriel costume, and knew this was coming up, so I ordered half a yard each of this owl fabric and some coordinating flannel to back it with. The owls were cute and on sale, and I figured the colors were neutral enough that she could continue to use them if she has a boy somewhere down the road. Then I found out that she's decorating the nursery in an owl theme! So there was a lot of owl-themed stuff at her shower. (And a lot of pink. So yellow is probably a nice change!)

2. My mom and I are working through a Craftsy knitting class together. We agreed that it's probably a little too easy for us, though I have still learned some useful things. This was the main scarf from the class, which I finally finished a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since I used a more textured yarn and the ends were lacy, but I kind of like the funky look of it. Also, I managed to knit the entire thing continental-style, and I'm pretty proud of that since continental purling is the weirdest hand motion. I still don't really feel like I have the hang of it, but the ability to switch back and forth from my usual English-style might be useful with my carpal tunnel issues.






The yarn is Chacabuco from Araucania, which Ravelry says is now discontinued. I found it mostly ok to work with, though pulling the puffier bits through the loops was sometimes difficult, particularly when binding off. I'll have to keep that in mind when choosing a future project, because I do still have one skein of this in a different colorway. I actually got to this particular skein pretty quickly as far as stashing goes, since I bought it back in August specifically for this class, and I mostly used it up. (There's about 20 yards left. What do you do with 20 yards of bulky yarn? Seriously. There really weren't that many options on Ravelry.)

3. My costume for the Shieldmaiden Sewalong continues to go slowly, but I did get a little further, at least.

I have two more pieces to cut out, plus any other little decorative overlay bits I may want to do. It's a good thing I'm making this out of bedsheets, because it's a bit of a fabric hog!

March 20, 2014

shieldmaiden slowness

So you know my not-so-inner geek was super-excited about the Sewcialist sewalong theme for this month, right?
Shieldmaiden Hwaet

 But my progress has been a little bit slower than battle-ready this month. Partially due to the Robson, partially due to needing to finish up some sewing for others, partially due to starting back up at work, and partially due to a few other life things that have sucked up the bulk of my weekends. But since it's almost 2/3 of the way through the month, I'd like to show that I am, in fact, working on it.

My first thought when I hear "shieldmaiden" is inevitably Eowyn. But I've already made costumes inspired by her garb in the movies. Twice. But I still can't resist Middle-earth, so my plan is to make this.





I mean, kick-butt red-headed Elf? Yes, please! I know she wasn't in the books or anything, but I do like the way she's turning out so far. This is a pretty complicated costume with lots of components, so I was never planning on fully finishing this month. I am hoping that I can get the bulk of one of the main pieces done, though--in this case, the green coat thing that she wears all the time in the movie.





(My final costume will probably end up being closer to this, though I like that green bodice hoodie thing that she wears, too. I did buy a curtain at the thrift store with a similar color/texture just in case, but I can always use it to make pillows or something if I don't use it.)

So here's my progress so far:
Tauriel jacket- fabricI dyed some bedsheets. The left is before, and the right is after. This is not the final color. I'm trying to do this as much on a budget as I can, since I'm stashbusting anyway and probably have a few more costumes to make this year. I didn't count this in my yardage totals, but I already had the bedsheets--my parents were getting rid of them anyway, so my mom gave them to me awhile back for muslins or whatever. Yay, free costume fabric! This was after one round in the washer with a bottle of RIT dye, and it's definitely darker than it started, as you can see. But I'm pretty sure there must be some polyester in the fabric, because it didn't get nearly as dark as I'd hoped.(Incidentally, that more textured green fabric is the curtain I found at the thrift store for the hoodie bodice, if I make it.)

My new plan is to try the iDye Poly out, mixed with a fairly dark regular iDye. This needs to be done on the stovetop, so since I'm a little limited in my size of pots on hand that I'll never, ever use to cook food in again, I'm going to cut out and sew the bulk of the costume together first in order to cut down on the amount of fabric that I need to stuff in there. (I say the bulk, because that will enable me to match threads better for stitching that will show on the outside, like hemming. Also, since I need to shape that collar, I don't want to melt my interfacing in boiling water, right?)


I've also traced out my Frankenpattern, using all costume patterns that I already had on hand!
Tauriel jacket- patterns
And yes, I'm totally counting both of these as patterns used for Stash Diet purposes. So there.

I've made the dress on the right before, though I had to modify it by adding a central panel because this was about the time that I realized my chest got bigger since I'd started college and Big 4 size 12 wasn't going to work anymore. (I realized this after I had already cut and sewn the bulk of it together and I couldn't zip it up.) If you want to see the finished product, it's the second dress down in my pre-blog costume roundup post. I've never used the pattern on the left, I just liked the look of the coat in particular, and thought maybe I could adapt it for real life wear. Which I never have. But I'm basically doing that, modified for things like hem shaping, and mashing it up with the collar from the grey dress with the obi belt, because it's the perfect shape.

I'm hoping the collar works out ok, since the largest size on the collar was a size 12, my coat starts at size 14, and I'm not entirely sure how the shoulder seams will line up with the modifications I made. So my plan is to cut extra-large seam allowances and tweak as needed as I go. I'm not muslining a costume made of bedsheets. No one has time for that!

I have to kill some time at my parents' after the garden center job tomorrow, since I'm meeting up with a couple of good friends to go to a book signing and driving home is pointless for the amount of time I'd need to stay. My mom said I can use their pool table--or, as she dubs it, the quilt pinning table--to cut the fabric out. Which is great, since bedsheets are a little wide for my little IKEA cutting table. So at least I will make some progress before the end of the month. I hope.


March 14, 2014

Wardrobe Architect, Week 8: Hair and Beauty


I was happy for the big Colette announcement last week, but I'm glad to have another Wardrobe Architect post this week! My Thursday seemed a little incomplete without it. This week's post was all about hair and beauty. I had a bit of a hard time finding a good picture to throw in here that typified my beauty "routine", such as it is, and couldn't find a recent one that was just me. (Except for a few of me modeling recent winter hats, and the best one of those had sunglasses marks on my nose. So here's a throwback to last summer when I was in Jamaica. Partly because I look pretty good in this closeup, and partly because yesterday was warmish, and today is 30 degrees colder, and I'm missing it already.)

Anyway. For this one, I figured I'd just go through Sarai's questions a little more interview-style.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What hair style has been most flattering and comfortable for you? How did it make you feel about yourself? Did it invoke any of the words you came up with in our core style exercise?

    I'm definitely a long hair person. Aside from when I was a bald baby, I have never, ever had short hair in my life. The shortest cut I've ever had was shoulder-length when I was in third grade, and it's been pretty long since then. I also had bangs until I was about 15, when I grew them out and never looked back. I also started dyeing my hair red when I was a teenager--it started with the dyes that would wash out after so many shampoos, because I didn't want to commit to touching up roots. When I was in my 20s, it naturally went more red, so I'd just boost the color from time to time. Then in my later 20s, I discovered henna dye. I experimented with the powder and the blocks from Lush, but now I love these henna dyes that I get off of Amazon--the application is just like what you'd get in the drugstores, but without all of the chemicals. (And no more leaving mud on my hair overnight. Which is great, since I live with a guy now and our dogs would probably eat whatever flaked off.) I'll probably have to go back to the chemical dyes at some point, when my hair goes more grey, but for now I'm quite happy with this system. If left to its own devices, my hair has gone back to what would naturally be that awful shade of mousy brown that it was when I was a kid, and I just feel better about myself when it's red.

    As a refresher, my core style words were Casual, Colorful, Artsy, Geeky, Cozy. I guess this would fall under casual and colorful. Maybe cozy, too, since long hair means my neck and ears stay warmer when it's cold!
  2. How much makeup are you comfortable with? It could be no makeup, or a full face with contouring (and all that jazz I could never figure out). Or it could vary day to day.
    It does vary slightly from day to day, but for the most part, I keep my makeup minimalistic. I have a mild but persistent case of rosacea, and I tend to sunburn easily. So my daily must-haves are a moisturizer with sunscreen, under-eye concealer, mineral powder foundation, and some kind of lip balm (usually Burt's Bees). Most days, that's it. I'll sometimes add in a lip gloss, if I know I won't be playing my flute until later in the day, or if I want to dress it up a little, I'll add a little bit of eyeshadow and mascara.

    Two side notes:
    1. Except for my wedding day, I haven't worn an actual lipstick in years. I experimented with it as a teenager, but discovered that lipstick and woodwind instruments don't mix. Since I still pull out my flute on an almost daily basis for teaching, it's just easier not to deal with it. And it actually feels really heavy to me now. If I want a hint of color, I always go with a gloss.
    2. Confession time: the other trademark thing I always did as a teenager was glitter gel, which I'd wear on my eyelids every single day. It was much faster than eyeshadow, and I liked the sparkle. I drifted away from that in college when I was busy dragging myself out of the house to catch the bus for 8 AM classes, but I do still find that I like eyeshadows that have a bit of shimmer to them.

  3. How does your makeup and hair reflect your personal style? What do you feel they say about you and your aesthetics?

    I think the keyword to both is "casual". I just don't want to spend a lot of time putting my face together, so to speak, and like my hair to be as low-maintenance as possible. My hair is just wavy enough that if it were much shorter, I would have to style it every single day, and most days, I can't even be bothered to blow-dry it. So I like that I can just brush it out and leave it mostly straight, or pull it into a ponytail or braid, or play around with it in other ways. I do still wish I was better at styling my own hair, and occasionally play around with ideas I find on Pinterest to find some new ways that I can actually manage to style it. I have accepted my limits on my makeup skills by this point, though, and would rather put the effort into clothes and accessories.

    I guess this would fall under makeup--the one exception is that once it's warm enough for sandals, I usually have my toenails polished. And I definitely gravitate towards greens, blues, purples, things like that, pretty much anything that's not the standard red and pink shades. Colorful!! (Maybe I should spring for a coral, though....hmm.)

  4. How much product do you want to own? Do you like collecting products, or would you rather just have a few essentials? How much bathroom clutter are you ok with?

    I'd say a few essentials, with a few added treats for when I want to amp it up. I do have things fairly consolidated, but I could probably go through and get rid of things like some of my older nail polishes and eyeshadows and things. The eyeshadows I've had have lasted me for years and aren't even close to running out.

  5. What requirements do you have for the products you buy? Do you stick with all natural products? Are there ingredients you avoid?

    I wear contacts, so I have to make sure the products I use are safe for them. Due to my rosacea, I also have to stick with things that are labeled oil-free and non-comedogenic. I've seen lots of things about how great oil cleansing is for your face, and am kind of jealous and afraid to try it, because I do like to keep things as natural as I can. (Thus the henna dyes.) Like I said earlier, sunscreen is also a non-negotiable for me. Thanks, pale northern European ancestors.
  6. What colors feel best near your face? How do they relate to the color palette you created?

    As you can see in the picture above, my eyes are a pretty dark brown, with no flecks of other colors. My makeup colors tend to be more earth-toned, for the most part. A lot of shades of browns, and the occasional olive-toned green. I sometimes play with purple, too--I once bought an eyeshadow pack that was supposed to be specifically for brown eyes, and I thought it looked pretty good. All of those are very firmly in my palette. When I do use lip gloss, it's usually either clear, or a coppery tint.
  7. for #wardrobearchitect (I have to put the picture here, because if I try to wrap the text, this one keeps jumping to the top. Ugh. But this is the bulk of my eyeshadow/lip gloss collection.)

  8. What colors never look right near your face? What colors have you tried and given up on before?

    I keep seeing that cobalt blue is supposed to look great for brown eyes, and I do have one pack of that. But only because I used it for my punk fairy costume. I guess if I were to be completely honest, the silver-toned eyeshadows that I've played with for a long time don't look the best on me either--gold/copper tones seem to work better with my eyes and skin. (But I am NOT giving up my silver jewelry!) In real life, I guess I usually feel like I don't really want to look like I'm wearing a lot of makeup, and try to keep it as non-obvious as possible.
  9. How much time do you realistically want to spend getting ready in the morning?

    As little as possible, especially on days that I work my garden center job. For one thing, my commute to there is three times what it was before I moved last summer. For another thing, especially in the summer when I have to sit outside, there's no point because I'm just going to sweat it all off. Also, I like having time to eat breakfast.

  10. What types of scents do you gravitate towards? Do you wear perfume? Other scented products? What do you feel the scents you like communicate about your personality?

    I do not wear perfume. When I do wear scented products, it's exclusively body wash and lotion, when I'm not completely forgetting to put lotion on in the first place. I really should, because I'd really like to use up all of the more commercial lotions that I have, like from Bath & Body Works, and then just buy some natural homemade stuff off of Etsy when I need it. But I'm too cheap frugal to just throw out nearly-full bottles of lotion in the meantime.

    The scented products I do have usually end up being scented with vanilla or some kind of citrus. I like the playfulness of the fresher, fruity scents, and the vanilla is cozy. Also, I've learned that floral scents give me a headache! One of my all-time favorite scented products was this body wash they used to have at Bath & Body Works, called Red Currant Thyme Tea. Sadly, it was discontinued awhile back, and now you can only get it by spending ridiculous amounts of money on Amazon or eBay. (But I just looked on Etsy, and at least one shop has a similar thing....ooh.) 

I wrote this post on Thursday, and just as an experiment, I decided to take the extra 2 minutes to add a little eye makeup to my usual minimal routine. It actually did make a difference in the way I felt-- even though my outfit for the day was pretty casual (jeans and a sweater, since it was thirty degrees colder than the day before--UGH), I felt a little more put-together. Even while my hair was still wet. So maybe this is something I should make a little more effort on. 

    March 13, 2014

    Throwback Thursday

    Between the Stash Diet/Stashbusting Sewalong efforts, and the Wardrobe Architect challenges, I've been in the mood lately to take a good, long look at my closet and see what maybe doesn't belong there anymore. A lot of the things I've been pulling out so far are thrifted or RTW items, but I've also found a few things I made that mostly predate my blogging days. So, I figured I'd feature them for a moment here before I repurpose them.

    1. The denim jacket, circa 2005 (I think). This is the coat that my Robson is replacing. I made it using a slightly shortened version of a Vogue coat pattern (1266). It hasn't aged well, as far as denim jackets go--instead of looking broken-in and casual like the more traditionally-styled ones do, it just looks faded in all the wrong places. You can probably see those collar wrinkle fade marks all the way from here.










    The lining is still in good condition, though. I love all of the fun colors in this fabric!










    2. The retro skirt, circa 2006. This one was actually one of the first things I shared on this blog, though not in much detail, since it was only my second post and all I did was mention some things I'd made over the previous summer. (Incidentally, aside from this skirt, the only things in that post that I still have are the bag and the long wrap skirt. I occasionally pull out the bag for days that I don't need to carry much weight, because I can't bring myself to get rid of the hand-painted panel but it won't hold up to more. And I do still wear the wrap skirt fairly regularly during the summers.) My original intention was to wear this skirt for my grad school graduation, but I was too busy with classes and such to finish it in time. So I finished it up the following summer. I still think this fabric is really fun, but the proportions of the skirt were never quite right. (Or the fit, if the way the waistline just hangs off of Donna is any indication.) I tried to draft my own pattern, and it didn't work out well. So then I used McCall's 4783 for the yoke, and I should really just ditch that pattern because the yoke is too wide and it means there's a seam right on the widest part of my hips. Not flattering. And then it ended up too short, which is why there's that white band on the bottom. Which is now somewhat dingy-looking.

    I do still think the piped faux pockets are a cute detail, and I may have to revisit that one sometime, but they'd work out a lot better if they were several inches higher. And stopped curling. If I do revisit this, interfacing would probably not be a bad thing.






    3. The Japanese maxi-skirt. I think this one was one of the few things I actually managed to crank out in college, which would put it around 2002-2003. I still like the skirt, honestly. It's Simplicity 7097, which I've used for another project or two over the years. Even though it's straight, it has a slit that's a good length for me to still be able to move freely. And I think the fabric is really fun. According to the website where I bought it, the symbols are kanji for "moon". The thing is, I only wear this skirt maybe once a year, tops. It's partly that I don't really have anything to wear with it, other than black tops. Though 3/4 of the colors are definitely in my palette, the red is what stands out to me and gives me mental blocks on wearing it. The other thing is, I love prints that evoke other cultures, but I often feel a little weird wearing them as a white girl of primarily German/UK descent. It's like I have this subconscious fear that, say, I'll offend my students that come from Asian families if I wear a skirt with Japanese writing. It's probably weird, and my thought line is more "I like this thing about your culture well enough to borrow it for my wardrobe", but it's still there.

    Rather than just pass these on to the thrift store, I'm going to recycle them here. I'm in the very beginning stages of planning a quilt, and spent a snow day chopping up smaller pieces of cotton prints and old muslins to do so. So since they're all quilting cotton prints (I'm thinking the lining of the coat, not the denim), why not add them? This thing's probably going to take me 5 years to make anyway, so I might as well include little pieces of my fashion history.

    Plus, you know, free fabric, and I can hoard the zippers and buttons for future projects. I love free stuff!

    And yes, I am sewing. Though I'm at a bit of a standstill for March of the Shieldmaidens while I wait for dye to arrive/frantically try to finish the sewn part of a gift before a baby shower next weekend. With any luck, I should be able to start this costume by April...

    March 10, 2014

    here there be dragons

    I've been putting a LOT of sewing hours in over the last week and a half, including about a 5 hour stretch last Saturday. I knew that my extra free time would be ending soon, and I've officially gotten the call back to my garden center job now. So I really wanted to get this project done before it happened, and I just made it, since I finished this on Thursday night and I have to go back tomorrow.

    Oh, sewing time, how I will miss you!

    As you know, I've been working on the Robson coat, and I'm rather pleased with how it turned out! I'm going to start with a proper pattern review, since Pattern Review is having a Sewaholic contest-- how convenient!

    Robson CoatPattern: The Robson Coat, from Sewaholic Patterns

    Description: From the website: "This is a feminine take on the traditional military trench, with rounded edges for a softer look. The Robson Coat features everything you'd hope for on a trench coat, including front and back storm flaps, epaulettes, topstitching, tie belt and sleeve tabs. It's unlined to make it easier to sew, as well as easier to press the finished coat. Front pockets are covered with welts and lie flat against the body. All of the inner seams are bound with bias tape for a clean finish."

    Pattern sizing: size 0-16. I made a 10 for the top and graded to an 8 at the bottom, to account for the pear-shaped figure grading.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes!

    Were the instructions easy to follow? I found them easy to follow, but I've been sewing for a long time. The hardest thing for me was the left vs right thing, but that's normal.

    Robson CoatWhat did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the styling, and I think it's very well-drafted. The collar in particular came together beautifully, in my opinion. I do wish that the belt loop placement had been marked differently, like with dots instead of notches--by the time I was ready to sew them on, the notches had long been enclosed with bias tape, and I had to resort to measuring from the bottom to get them evenly. It's also a LOT of layers in certain points, particularly the shoulders with the yoke, the sleeve, and the epaulettes. It would probably be fine in a lightweight raincoat sort of fabric, and I got through it miraculously ok, because my machine is a beast. (Yay, Berninas!) But other machines would have an issue with it, depending on the fabric used.

    Speaking of...

    Fabric used: The Montauk Twill from Fabric.com, in the "deep sea" color. It's described as a medium-to-heavyweight twill, which is probably why the thickness was an issue from time to time. The right side has a lovely brushed feel to it, and it was wonderful to sew with! (Though it did get some fuzzballs on the wrong side from washing, and it turns out that Golden retriever hair sticks to it pretty easily. But then, I'm pretty sure the one dog's fur is made from Velcro.) I also used a quilter cotton for the bias bindings, and some polyester satin to underline the sleeves.

    Robson coat insidePattern alterations or any design changes you made: I ended up adding an extra 1/8" back in per side around the bustline princess seams and the upper center back seam. Along with making the top a larger size, this worked great as a cheater FBA. I also underlined the sleeves with a more slippery fabric. (Look, I'm print-mixing!) Aside from that, it's pretty much as is.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I could see myself sewing it again, but not for a really long time. Unless I cropped it, ditched the flaps, and styled it as a layering jacket. You really only need one spring outerwear coat, you know? I would recommend it to an advanced sewist, or an intermediate one who isn't afraid to try some new things, like bias tape seam finishes.





    Dragons!Other notes:
    I am absolutely in love with these buttons. They're slightly smaller than what's called for, and I don't care.

    Because DRAGONS.

    Seriously, aren't these the coolest? I mentioned back during Sew Grateful week that I found these at KnitPicks. I did end up buying one pack too many, because I didn't realize that 3 of the buttons were only to be sewed on the wrong side for buttoning purposes. (I also ended up sewing those 3 inner buttons to the wrong side, but I'm not going to bother fixing it. Honestly, as much as I need to get in and out of jackets fairly quickly when travel-teaching lessons, I'm probably never going to properly button this.) So I have 5 of these lovelies left, and will have to come up with some use for them. These are too fun to hoard, even though hoarding is a dragon's favorite thing to do.

    I'm kind of tempted to call this my "Smauglock" jacket. If you're a fan of the BBC Sherlock and/or the recent Hobbit movies, you may have seen things like this, where artsy people have fun with the same two actors playing Holmes/Watson and Smaug/Bilbo:





    I mean, come on, that scarf is pretty much the exact color of this coat!

    IMG_1178Now, for the stashbusting details, minus the usual categories that got covered in the pattern review (pattern, fabric used):

    Amount of time it took to make: About a week and a half, but I put in a lot of hours during that time.


    Amount of fabric used: 6 yards (yeah!) I entirely used up 2 pieces, and have about 1/2 yard left of the quilter cotton. But it's just a big triangle, and I do already have several bias-cut strips left over, so I'll probably just go ahead and cut the rest into strips for either more bias tape, or to use for the leftovers scrap quilt I'm plotting.

    Stashed since: 2013 for the twill and quilt cotton, since it was bought specifically for this project at the end of last year. 2011 for the poly satin, since it was leftover from lining this jacket.

    Current stash total: About 325.5 yards. (Oddly, I took 5 additional yards out for the Sew Grateful giveaway, but I guess it had stopped counting at some point in my spreadsheet, because I ended up with 4 more yards than I'd thought! Arrrgh!)

    For Stash Diet purposes, this means I've now gotten rid of 8 pieces of fabric (10 if you count the two for the giveaway, which will be going out soon!), and used 4 different patterns this year. According to my rules, this means I've "earned" both a new piece of fabric, and a new pattern! But I'm going to hold off for now, since I won the Avocado Hoodie pattern during Sew Grateful week, and Doug and I have some financial goals we're trying to meet that would be helped by me not buying fabric just yet. I already have such a long list of projects to get to soon that I think I can wait.

    IMG_1215I'm going to leave you with one last shot--I actually managed to get outdoor photos for once! I finished this just in time for a Saturday that was decently warm enough to take this jacket out for a test-drive, so Doug and I took the dogs to a nearby dog park to throw some tennis balls for them. They don't get much space to play in our tiny, unfenced backyard, so this was definitely a treat for them. I was having fun attempting to get some good action shots of them running around, and Doug graciously agreed to take some photos of the coat. So of course, we ended up with a few involving my furry photobombers. But they're pretty cute in this one.

    March 4, 2014

    Sew Grateful Giveaway Winners

    Sorry for the delay in putting this up. We had an unexpected snow day yesterday due to a state of emergency that was called, and though I fully intended to get to the drawing, it just didn't happen. But I managed to catch Doug just before his hockey game started, and he graciously agreed to help me with this one.

    I decided to take a break from the random number generator system, because I had two names to draw. Also, because it meant I could use this:

     Admit it....it's much cooler to say that he picked a name out of the TARDIS than a hat, right?












    The winner of the red cotton is....
    Ashley! Who says she would use it to make a Beignet.













    The winner of the taupe suiting is...
    Annie! Who wasn't  sure yet what she'd make, but said it looked cozy.













    Congratulations to both of you! If you could contact me at sunnyb64 at yahoo dot com with your addresses, I'll get those out in the mail to you asap.

    I also wanted to thank Nic at The Somnolent Dachshund--I won her giveaway for a $10 voucher to Disparate Disciplines! So I got an Avocado Hoodie pattern. It looks nice and cozy, and I love that there's built-in handwarmers!



    March 1, 2014

    February Stash Diet update

    Here's my totals for the month!

    For sewing, I finished a whopping 6 projects! Three pairs of Thurlows, a Plantain tee, plus an infinity scarf and a tablet case. I love the months off from my retail job. I only used up two pieces of fabric completely, though I made nice dents in the fabrics I used for the pants. I did also buy several pieces of fabric this month--there was my travel exception that I made for Mood, plus I used my regular allowance to buy a piece of faux leather for my March of the Shieldmaidens project. I also bought two half yards of fabric to make a baby gift for a friend, since I needed a little more to get free shipping anyway and I really don't have baby-friendly stuff on hand.

    Total fabric out: 7 1/2 yards
    Total fabric in: 10 yards
    Difference: + 2.5 yards
    Total stash left: approximately 327 1/4 yards
    Pieces of fabric completely used up: 2 (the cherry print cotton for the charcoal Thurlow pockets, and the paisley knit for the Plantain/scarf)
    Patterns used: 2. I believe I have one more to go for my pattern buying allowance.


    For knitting, I finally managed to start the sleeves on my cardigan! I also finished up a scarf for the Craftsy class that my mom and I have been working through together, aside from sewing the two halves together and weaving in the ends.. I am so, so close to finishing up that skein of yarn-- if the method for figuring out yardage from weight that I found is correct, I only have about 20 yards of this particular yarn left. Seriously, what do you do with 20 yards of yarn?

    I didn't do so well on the yarn in vs out this time. Since I was sharing my beginner knitting Craftsy class with my mom, she decided to buy another one for us to work through together--the "Improve Your Knitting" one, which is probably what I would have gone for in the first case if it had been available at the time. I did check my stash, but unfortunately didn't have anything on hand in the right weights and amounts for the three projects that we'll be making for this class. So I ended up buying another 8 skeins of yarn! Hopefully these will get entirely used up during the course of this class, but I will not be counting these towards my yarn purchase allowance when I do use them up.

    On the plus side, aside from my cardigan, I can make my totals a little more accurate now. I was finally able to give one secret project to its recipient--I made these dishcloths for my bestie, who recently bought her first place! So this was part of her housewarming gift, which had a geeky-but-practical theme going. So these have the Earth symbol from Stargate, a TARDIS, the Golden Snitch from Harry Potter, and the Starfleet Academy symbol from Star Trek. (I also bought her this apron--it references both Lord of the Rings and the Big Bang Theory, and is a favorite quote to throw at each other on a regular basis--a cookbook, and a cast-iron skillet--also known as Samwise Gamgee's/Rapunzel's security system!) I basically used up both skeins of yarn on these dishcloths.

    I didn't quite finish my Robson coat in time for the end of #bluefebruary, so I'm going to count that yardage total towards March. I also did some dyeing to prepare for my costume yesterday--I'm trying to do my costume on a pretty tight budget, so I dyed some bedsheets that my parents were getting rid of. They did get darker, though not quite dark enough for my intended costume. So I think I might sew the main part of the costume up anyway, and then try the one dye I know works for polyester. (You have to boil it on a stovetop, so I need a smaller quantity than queen-sized bedsheets!)


    February 28, 2014

    Wardrobe Architect, Week 7: Prints vs. Solids

    Hi, my name is Becky, and I'm a printoholic.

    At least, that's how I usually think of myself. When it comes to shopping, both for fabrics and when I'm at the thrift store, the print is what generally draws my eye first. I have to make a much more conscious effort to think of wardrobe staples in solids, and get way more excited about sewing the prints. I dream of someday having the guts and print-mixing savvy of people like Oona, because then I can wear more prints at once! So this exercise was an interesting one for me.

    If you take a look at my closet, yes, there's solids. The most prominent ones at the moment are my jackets. But there's quite a few prints hanging out there, too. Sarai's suggested homework was to pull out my 10-20 most worn items and see what's prints vs what's solids, but I didn't feel that would give an accurate assessment of my particular tastes. Especially this time of year, when I rely so heavily on pants and layering pieces, and pretty much all of my jackets/sweaters and all of the Thurlows I made recently are solids. So I did things a little differently...

    I went through my closet and took a look at 3 different categories of things--tops, skirts and dresses. (I left out pants, jackets and sweaters, since as I said, they're all pretty much solid at this point, aside from a few subtle stripes in purchased pants and one Anthropologie cardigan.) I further divided tops into things I'm more likely to wear when it's warmer vs cooler, because I suspected that my print preferences could change with the seasons. So here's what I found--I even made pie charts, just because I could!



    This one surprised me, actually. I wasn't expecting so many of my warmer tops to be solid. But I guess it makes a little sense, because I'm also more likely to wear print skirts in the warmer weather, and I generally wear a solid top with those. (For the record, this did not include graphic t-shirts, camisoles, or other knit basic tank tops.)




    This one was a little more balanced out overall, though there were also more things that I wasn't sure how to categorize.








    I'm not really surprised that nearly half of my skirts were solid. "Other" tended to lean more towards novelty prints here.









    I didn't count more formal-type dresses in here, or that would have upped the solid count. As it was, I tend to think of dresses more as a one-and-done wardrobe option, which is why prints so solidly dominate here.



    To take a closer look at what I actually own, I pulled out several typical print garments for me, depending on the season.

     The majority of things in both rows are things I've made, but there are a few purchased things in there as well.

    I also took a look at what's actually in my stash right now and easily accessible. (So not things that I already have bagged up for specific projects, and not things that are more of a texture-print.)

    A few stripes, a few paisleys, lots of big graphic floral-type things, though I honestly have to say that the one I'm most excited about using is that Japanese teacup print in the center top row!

    So, to summarize:
    • "Floral prints", for me, tend to be more stylized or even geometric in nature. They also more often lean towards a medium-to-large scale. It's also pretty common for them to actually be leaves.
    • A lot of my "other" fell under the categories of paisley, or a hand-dyed look, or more pictoral prints, like the day 13 skirt here. I do love a good novelty print, but in practice, am more likely to use them as bags. (Or jacket linings.) However, some of my florals could also be considered a novelty print. Lonsdale dress, I'm looking at you. 
    • I like swirly prints, apparently. A lot of them have curving lines.
    • Yes, my taste in prints are somewhat seasonal! I'm much more likely to wear stripes or plaid in the colder months, for instance. And florals when it's warmer. How novel.
    • For the most part, things like dots and animal prints, which were two of the examples given in the post, didn't even rank. I think I have two dotted prints total, and you see them both in this post.
    • Overall, it looks like the way I should rank my taste in prints is the following:
      • 1. stylized/bold florals
      •  2. Abstract/geometric, often with a swirly motif
      • 3. Stripes or plaid
      • 4. Novelty prints
    So I made this, using prints I already have, either in my finished clothes or in my stash. Photoshop is magic.

    February 27, 2014

    Sew Grateful Week, days 3 & 4

    I'm lumping these together again-- partially because I had to really think about the resources, and partially because I was a little more focused on having a solid sewing day yesterday-- my birthday gift to myself! :) (It was yesterday, and yes, I got spoiled-- I got lots of lovely messages on various social media from friends and family, two gift cards to Joann's that should cover notions for my fabric stashbusting endeavors for awhile, a set of pretty interchangeable knitting needles, and Doug gave me an appointment for a massage at a local spa. My shoulders are almost always tense, probably mostly due to my choice of musical instrument, so I'm really looking forward to that!)

    Day 3: Sharing Resources Day

    Since I don't have any new tutorials or groundbreaking technique tips at the moment, I thought I'd share two resources I've found for places to get sewing supplies that you wouldn't necessarily think of. I'm highly reliant on internet shopping for my crafty needs, so I've had to get creative sometimes!

    #1: Dharma Trading Company. They're probably most commonly known as a one-stop shop for all of your dye needs. So obviously, if you want to play with dyeing some fabric, this is a great place to get your colors! But they also have a really nice selection of natural fiber fabrics by the yard, including cotton, hemp blends, bamboo, and silk. Most of it is in a natural color, obviously, since it's meant to be dyed. What I've most often bought from here is the silk, because the prices are really good compared to places like Fabric.com and Mood--all of my lining and underlining fabrics for my wedding dress were purchased from here, except the nude organza to underlay the lace on the sheer part of the bodice, and this is the first place I'd look to get silk organza for tailoring-type projects and interfacings.

    #2: KnitPicks. Yes, the place I already linked to for those knitting needles. You might already know about this if you're one of those sewcialists who also knits, but I was surprised to learn recently that they sell buttons! I shouldn't be... I mean, cardigans. But I was recently looking for a larger quantity of buttons for my current project, Joann's didn't have enough of anything in stock, I did some poking around on Etsy, fell in love with a certain style of button that the seller only had one of, and then the Google rabbit hole led me to here. They're not necessarily an inexpensive source, and the majority was a brand that's pretty common at Joann's, but it's probably fairly comparable to paying full price at a fabric store. More importantly, I was able to get 16 buttons that matched. (I'm super-excited about the ones I found, but am going to wait for the finished project post to show those off.)

    Day 4: Sewing Project Day
    I'll have to go with an in-progress post here. As you know from recent posts, my current project is the Sewaholic Robson Coat. I'm grateful to Tasia for coming up with such a cute jacket design, and to the Sewcialists for the #bluefebruary sewalong--even though it's highly unlikely at this point that I'll finish this one while it's still February, given that it ends, um, tomorrow, it was great incentive to get this started at a time where I'm likely to be done by the time it actually gets to spring jacket weather!

    IMG_1171I did some very minor tweaks to my muslin that worked out really nicely, so I got the whole thing cut out on Tuesday and started sewing the real thing yesterday. I don't have a lot to show for it yet, mostly because I'm trying to take my time and do a really nice job.So this picture pretty much encompasses what I did get done so far, aside from already needing to iron that sewn piece again! I underlined the sleeve pieces with a silky print from my stash, leftover from this jacket, basting it together by hand. I already had the strips cut and sewn together, but I had to buy a bias tape maker and it didn't come in until Tuesday, so I had to press about 12 yards of bias tape. I also spent some time fiddling with the idea of a bound buttonhole, and I'm glad I tested this first, because I don't think it will work for this particular project. (The buttons are on the small side, so I don't have much room to maneuver.) So I really only have one seam and two pocket flaps done, and the inside pocket pieces basted onto the front pieces.

    IMG_1170
    A closer-up view of that seam. I'm basically having to sew all of these seams five times-- once for the actual seam, twice more to enclose the edges with that bias binding, and twice more for topstitching. I think the double topstitching will look really nice, though. The reason I'm doing the two rows close together like that is because I probably should have bought a wider bias tape maker, because I'm just barely getting the raw edge caught with the edgestitching, and the topstitching row further from the seam will help to further secure the binding.

    If I can keep the topstitching this neat, and get the wrinkles pressed out a little better--I have a feeling my bottle of Best Press is going to be my best friend here--I think this will look really nice when it's all together!

    One more Sew Grateful note-- there's still plenty of time to enter the fabric giveaway