October 31, 2007

Tricks and Treats

It's time for the Halloween edition of Sew And So!

First order of business: the scary peacoat that's taken up more than the last two months of my life. Stubborn to the end, it took me two machines and about 8 tries to get four complete buttonholes (seriously, I had to sew over each one twice because it kept skipping huge chunks!) But as of last night, the Felicity Peacoat is officially done!

To refresh the memory, since it's been such a drawn-out process, it's from Vogue 7979, which I modified by leaving off the button-on belt in the back, quilting the lining, and a whole mess of resizing due to bad pattern sizing for me in the store. It's really black, even though it looks charcoal in the pictures, and it's made from embroidered suedecloth. If I were going to make this pattern again, I'd try to avoid the quilted lining, because it added a lot of stiffness and weight to it... I was just afraid it wouldn't keep me warm enough if I didn't. But I have my winter coat now, just in time for the weather starting to get colder.



Tonight's tricks and treats was this shirt. The trick was getting started, because as I was trying to get some stuff cleaned up around my machine, I knocked over my tea mug and it spilled all over the cut out pieces (which I did on Monday night), with the pattern pieces still pinned on. So they're drying out, and I had to rinse out the pieces and throw them in the dryer. Even so, they were slightly damp the entire time I was working on it, so it's back in the dryer now to remove the mustiness. Then I had to haul my machine and everything up to my bedroom, because one of the water tanks in the basement broke and wrecked one of our walls and possibly the floor. My dad was trying to dry everything out, so there was a lot of shuffling around, and in the meantime the mold from it was setting off my allergies.

Considering how hard it was to get started (it was 8 PM before I even started sewing), the shirt came together surprisingly well. I used my organic bamboo jersey (which was amazingly nice to work with, for a knit!) and Butterick 3344, which I modified by lengthening all the pieces and turning it into an actual wrap instead of a mock one. So I added the two ties and a slit at one side to pull it through, and eliminated the elastic it called for in the neckline in favor of iron-on interfacing strips that made the neckline almost completely painless to sew without stretching. Made for a nice clean edge too. So between that and the walking foot, everything laid pretty much how I wanted it to. Most painless experience I've ever had with knits.

If I was going to make it again, I'd take some of the width off the front piece, because I had to pull quite a bit of it through the slit to get it to lay close enough to my body in the front (even though I'm definitely going to be wearing something under this, I'd still like it to lie flat!). And I'd make the ties shorter. But all in all, not bad for three hours' work! And the fabric is so incredibly comfortable. I'm hoping I can find some bamboo fabric again sometime!

October 29, 2007

the fairy costume

First of all, the rant: Why do I have to use two different browsers to make a post on here? Suddenly, I have to upload photos on Firefox, and type on IE. If this keeps up, I might seriously have to find a new server for this!

Anyway, here's the finished product for my fairy costume. I'll get a better close-up shot of the top, but you get the idea. It was a success, both for the concert (for which I wore a different top and shoes) and the party (which is where this was taken. Also, my hair was natural for the concert, and it's got temporary spray dye here.)

Haven't attempted the buttonholes for the coat yet-- I think that's going to be tomorrow night's project, when I can get my mom to help me with the other machine. But I did cut out my wrap shirt tonight.

October 26, 2007

So close, but no peacoat.

Not yet, anyway. I'd thought I could possibly finish it tonight, but it's not going to happen. For one thing, I'm ridiculously tired and I have to be at the music school at 9:15 for tomorrow's Halloween concert. For another thing, my machine is being completely uncooperative on the buttonholes-- not feeding right, the auto direction change didn't work on the one I tried on the actual coat and not the scrap fabric and resulted in about 3 inches of bad zigzagging I had to rip out (for a 1 1/8" button), multiple thread breakages, etc. It just doesn't make sense-- this part of the coat really isn't that thick! I'm going to have to try it again on one of my mom's machines-- either that or sew it by hand. Which, um, NO. So I guess it's going to have to wait until Monday. Sigh. I am so ready to move on to a different project.

On a happier note, I did finish the shirt for my costume on Monday. Haven't taken a picture yet, so at this point I'll just wait and post a picture after the party tomorrow night. Better effect that way anyway, since then it's with the skirt and the wings and makeup and all. Turned out nice, I thought-- the topstitching really helped under the empire waist, and other than a little bit of stretching at the top from the lycra in the nylon, it fits well.

October 19, 2007

Moving right along...

It took me three hours, but the lining for my coat is entirely sewn together. Had to do some improvising on the collar stand because I only cut one instead of two originally, but between the other two pattern pieces that surrounded it, I managed. So now I just have to actually sew the lining into the coat, then do the button-and-hole thing, and ohmygosh this coat will be done. I seriously might be able to finish it next week. And then move onto that bamboo wrap that I'm really hoping to have done in time for the Over the Rhine show if it turns out. But not tomorrow... seeing as how I have a closer deadline on it, tomorrow is a costume crafty day. Maybe Sunday. We'll see how it goes.

October 17, 2007

a week of craftiness

Since I've been lax in updating, here's a pic-spammy post to make up for it.

Wednesday: As mentioned before, Goodwill shopping for supplies. Here's why...
A friend of mine asked me to help her shop for supplies for some Halloween costume for her and her husband. While there, I noticed these fairy wings for half-off ($6, which is probably about as good as it would get with me finding pantyhose and such to make my own!) I may have mentioned this on here before, but I'm supposed to dress in costume for a Halloween concert I'm going to be playing in, and none of my current costumes would work well for playing flute (sleeves either too fitted for that kind of arm movement, such as the pirate coat, or too heavy, like my more Lord of the Rings-Renaissance based costumes. Plus I wanted something kids would understand better.) So since I have to wear kind of darkish, more normal clothing for one of the pieces, I thought the colors on this were just about perfect. They do need some tweaking, like painting the design on the opposite side so you can see it when you're facing me (since I will be on stage for this), and hopefully figuring out a way to get it to stay on my back better. Might need some wider straps.


As it turns out, I have a party to go to the same night-- costumes being a requirement, of course. I have a shirt to wear for the concert, but I needed a fairy skirt, and preferred to have a different shirt for the party (since this shirt's one I wear for concerts a lot and I don't want to risk messing it up.) So this is what I ended up with for supplies. Clockwise from top: a poly/cotton chiffon I found in the remnant bin at Joanns, (approximately $6, for about 3 yards in the bundle, so I have leftovers to play with) polyester satin thrifted pj pants (about $2), a huge stretch nylon skirt (I think about $4), and some shimmery black organza that was from a failure project-- I was going to use it to overlay a dress for performances, but the fabric was too stiff and didn't drape right at all. (Unfortunately, it was the only sheer black at the store at the time. Pretty sure this project was from close to the end of college or the beginning of grad school, and has been sitting in the bin ever since.) The nylon skirt will be turned into the party shirt, as soon as I figure out how. The rest of it was for the fairy skirt.

Thursday/Friday: Ripped seams out of the pj pants.

Saturday: Started work on the skirt. Which consisted of sewing up the ripped-out legs into more of a skirt tube, hemming that, and cutting out an overlay from the sheer blue. Then I started sealing the edges with glitter fabric paint, because hemming that would take forever and not look right anyway.

Sunday: Finished sealing the edges on the blue, as well as cut out the black sheer overlay and edge-sealing on that. The nice thing about the black layer was I was able to cut it directly off the bottom of the dress overlay, so all the seams were pre-done.

Monday: both layers onto the black satin skirt. The top's messy... when I took out the first seam for the elastic waistband on the pj pants, I discovered that the fabric was sewn directly to the elastic, and the elastic fit me perfectly. So I just stretched that out while sewing the sheer layers on and let that do the gathering for me. I originally had that turned to the inside, but the sheer edges were so itchy and it just lookedSewed the side seams on the blue, then sewed bulky and weird, so now the top is literally the elastic. But it'll be covered, so it's ok. So here's the finished result.


Yesterday:

Finally finished refashioning this shirt. A bit unusual for me because it was an entirely hand-sewn refashion. All I did was shorten the sleeves (which I finished last night), and then sew the trim to the neckline. But only in the front, to make sure it could still get over my head-- the neckline was finished differently in the back anyway. Simple, but I like it.

Tonight: Sewed the actual seams into the peacoat lining. Now I just have to rip out the original basting, which is about a quarter inch closer to the edges of the pieces, so I can press the seams flat and continue.

On a random note, feeling annoyed with Blogger tonight. On Internet Explorer, it took forever to load the pics and wouldn't let me click "done" to continue more than half the times I tried to upload even one photo at a time. So finishing this on Firefox, and discovered I can't just drag and scroll the pics. Meh.

October 10, 2007

Goodwill, you disappoint me.

For so long I've relied on you for inexpensive costume components, from the 11th-grade Dickens character party to last year's Wizard of Oz scarecrow outfit. Now, this year, when I'm on a time crunch and really need you, where's your plethora of cheap, horrific bridesmaid dresses from the 80s that would give me yards of fabric for abour $5? I realize you're trying to make yourself more upscale to appeal to the more average consumer. But, really, you need to have more formalwear than just a stack of bridal gowns, because white is just not going to cut it for this project, and I don't have time to attempt a dye job on top of everything else (especially since odds are it won't work with whatever unnatural fibers your bridal gowns are made of anyway). And you also need to not mix it in with the other dresses, like you used to.

And, honestly, $45 for a simple black satin dress? Forget that. I could buy a couple yards cheaper at Joanns'. Heck, I could probably find a cheaper dress on sale at the mall. Or just stick with the $2 polyester satin pj pants that I got instead.

Now, I realize that since I live in Delaware, you're pretty much my only option for thrifting, especially since your hours are better than the Salvation Army and a heck of a lot easier to get to between teaching times. But really, you need to step it up here. Since you're my only option for buying clothes until the end of the year or whenver I decide to stop doing Wardrobe Refashion after that, I can't afford for you to go all lame on me. Got it?

(Yes, this does have to do with crafting. All will be revealed in due time.)

Edit, 10:19 PM: On the plus side, it looks like things with the peacoat are looking up. Spent a couple hours working on it tonight, and got both sleeves sewn in. I tried it on over the oddly-basted lining (oddly because half of the too-wide seams have been ripped out and half haven't)-- I was a little worried because it seems like it was a bit snug across the back, but that's really only when I'm crossing my arms very exaggeratedly. I did test it out with how my arms would be for things like driving and reaching over my head, and I think it'll be fine. So maybe this project will turn out all right after all!

October 9, 2007

Recent Progress

Nothing finished as of late, but I have made some good progress:

  • Felicity Peacoat: Finally starting to go better! As of now, I have all of the front and back pieces sewn together and topstitched in the right places (though I do need to finish ripping it out where I accidentally topstitched the side seam.) I also put on the under collar last night. Quite proud of where it joined the neck, because usually with those obviously curved, highly clipped seams, I get at least one pucker in there where the fabric gets caught (like I did with the under collar to little neck insert piece earlier last night.) That particular seam was puckerless first try!
  • A random refashion: For that brown v-neck, I finished sewing on the trim last night. So now I just need to chop off and hem the sleeves to the length I want.
  • Etsy: Have some potential photograph material for my banner now, thanks to a weekend backpacking trip. I also cut out a bag and lining tonight-- mostly, anyway. I do still need to cut out any pockets I'm going to put in, and the strap, and the interfacing. First order of buisness is a design for the flap, which I'm working on. So I'll work on that either right after the peacoat, or after the wrap shirt I want to make next (which I'm hoping will be a quickie project.)

October 3, 2007

another false start

Progress made on peacoat today:

  1. sewed on pocket piece
  2. realized seam allowances would be inside the pocket
  3. ripped that out
  4. moved piece to inside of the opposite side
  5. figured out that wasn't going to work either, though I forget why
  6. ripped it out again
  7. realized that my attempts to figure out how to sew the pocket in while the old pocket seams were still sewn in, and ripped one pocket out, causing a lot of frayed edges
  8. ripped the seam at the seam allowance trying to get the pocket that was still sewed onto one piece of the pocket off of the coat
  9. Decided that what I really need to do is just cut out new pocket pieces, and hope that whatever progress I make on my next attempt actually sticks

On the plus side, at least I did get one of the too-small lining seams taken out. And since the side seams of the outside are still basted together, minus the front to front sides where I need to sew in those pockets, that will make that portion of the construction go much quicker. So this isn't really like entirely starting the coat over again, right?

October 2, 2007

Crafty linkage

Since nothing exciting is happening in the land of peacoats yet, and I get a lot of inspiration from online, here's some of my favorite craft-related sites!

ThreadBanger: Admittedly, I know how to do most of the sewing skills they teach and my style's not really anything close to as punk as they often get (after all, I can't exactly get away with wearing reconstructed t-shirts and such on workdays... the hazards of turning into an adult. Sigh. That, and I'd never trust a string bikini made of reconstructed t-shirts to cover everything adequately!) But the way that hosts Rob and Corrinne present DIY fashion is so entertaining that I keep tuning into their weekly webisodes just to see what they'll do next. And their "commercials" absolutely crack me up.

From ThreadBanger, I recently learned about Metal Chik-- similar format, but replace DIY clothing with jewelry. I've learned much more from this show, since most of my jewelry projects have involved beading and the occasional wire and this is more hardcore metal work. (Which I'd love to learn to do at some point. Really, I just want to play with the soldering iron.)

Of course, I have to mention Craftster.org, since it's the mother-that-didn't-want-to-stop-being-cool of all craft messageboards. My involvement here kind of goes through cycles of posting and non-posting and forgetting-to-check-for-weeks-at-a-time, but it's still a great resource. You can find tons of tutorials, and it's always fun to see what people come up with. The downside: since it is so huge, I've noticed that things don't get comments unless they absolutely stand out in brilliance, or it appeals to the majority population (which seems to be mostly college girls and under.)

Sew Hip is my favorite of the LiveJournal craft communities (yes, I know, I should be hunted down by Chilean angry mountain cows for giving a shoutout to LiveJournal on Blogger, but I was on there long before the craft blog came to be.) You do have to have an LJ account to post there, but can read it without one. That's probably the friendliest of the online craft communities I've been involved in-- no question is too newbie, the people there are friendly, and honestly, I've gotten way more constructive feedback (and comments in general) from them than I ever have from Craftster.

BurdaStyle, as many of you already know, has free sewing patterns. Let me amend that. Free patterns that don't suck. I have yet to actually make something from one of their patterns, but am planning to as soon as I finish the peacoat and one more project. They also have a community that allows you to upload pics of your creations (from any pattern, not just Burda), and a forum. I haven't had the chance to get too involved there yet, due to my recent sewing projects being few and time-consuming and loaded with detail, but from what I've seen so far, it's also a very friendly, supportive community, and I am looking forward to being able to post there more. The only downside for me (and I'm not blaming the site at all for this!) is that it's often difficult for me to read details about projects from some of the European members, simply because I can't read the languages.

UpCycle Art Projects: My recent interest in eco-crafting led me here. Again, haven't tried anything yet, but if I ever can afford my own place (read: have somewhere to put it) I'm interested to see how the soda bottle light fixtures really look.

Wardrobe Refashion, of course. This community's pretty much altered my entire thinking on what I buy and how I sew. I was reconstructing before I joined it, and I can't say I've done too many recons since I joined it, but I have been making an effort to sew more. And I really have bought far fewer clothes as a result (and really think about the projects I do sew-- like, do I really need this?) I'm proud to say that so far, the only clothes I've bought this year have been things I just couldn't do myself-- shoes, those hiking pants that I did attempt to sew but the pattern was all wrong and I didn't have time to get new material and try a new pattern (if there even is another pattern for zip-off pants!), things like that. I will have to buy another dress soon, but since it's a bridesmaid's dress for my best friend's wedding, that one's pretty much unavoidable. I haven't decided yet to what extent I'll do this next year, but I'm sure I'll go for at least a few months.

Now, if anyone is reading this, I ask-- any great craft sites/blogs/whatever that I've missed that I really should check out?

Edit for a quick note to self: 7/8" seams on the peacoat body, regular for everything else. Off to rip many seams.