April 30, 2008

The Doolittle Blouse, part 4

Haven't gotten much sewing in over the last few days. I did spend some of Sunday and Monday nights making bridesmaid necklaces, though. I'm not going to post a picture until later, nor am I actually finished any but one of them-- the bride wants us all to get together the weekend before the wedding to try on all the dresses/accessories and make sure everything's in order there, so what I suggested to her is that I wait to put the clasps on until then so that I can make the length custom for each girl (since we're all different sizes.) She liked that idea, so I just have really long dangly pieces of chain on all but the initial sample. This, however, is obviously not a necklace, but the Doolittle blouse. The orange stitches are where I basted a line to know where to fold to make the facing that the buttons will go on. (I literally pinned the blouse on myself and then basted the line while I was wearing it!) The side with the buttonholes is going to be a bit tricky, as there's not quite enough fabric to do a folded-under facing, so I may need to cobble something together from what scraps I have left. I did get the button side facing sewn tonight-- had just enough time to do that. It's not as neat as I'd hoped it would turn out, though-- the crossover is right on top of the gathered area, so there was just no way I could get the waistband folded over in the right place and not have some of the gathering get caught in the stitching for the bodice part. My comforting thought is that it's going to be under the buttonholes, and therefore no one but me will see it.


I also wanted to show a picture of the finished sleeves, because I absolutely adore them. Probably the most genius thing I did with this refashion was to use the bottom of the original sleeves for this. That's the original buttoned sleeve detail.

April 25, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 7

Got a whole bunch of things today-- to make up for the last few weeks, I suppose!

1. First off, in the name of shameless self-promotion, I'm this week's Featured Member on BurdaStyle. :D

2. In the category of odd and random, Sharon B at In A Minute Ago featured this picture of a gas station cozy. Yes, that's right, the entire abandoned gas station is wrapped in fabric.

3. Secondly in the category of odd and random, ThreadBanger had a top ten list of prom dresses made out of unusual materials. (Just be warned that their #1 pick isn't exactly a kid-friendly material...)

4. Also on ThreadBanger this week, there was a link to a tutorial on how to make a wallet from an old cassette tape! The actual tutorial is here. I kind of want to try this. Just because the idea of a wallet made from music rocks my socks off. Pun fully intended.

5. Sewing with knits is a perpetual challenge for me, so I'd like to thank Angry Chicken for reviewing a new Built By Wendy book about how to deal with them. I'd probably have to actually sit down at the bookstore and flip through it to make sure it's not geared more toward beginners and therefore stuff I already know, but good to know it's out there.

6. Assorted Notions gets a shoutout for this shift dress-- straight from a pattern, but it's one of those complicated European pattern magazine ones and she altered it to make it really great with the print. So I just like it.

7. On an entirely serious note, SewStylish reviewed a program she saw on the BBC about a few British people who went to work in an Indian sweatshop, just to see what it's really like. Very thought-provoking, and a must-read for bargain fashion shoppers.

8. This week's Most Creative Recycling award goes to the maker of this bag, linked from Purple Missus. It's made from... you guessed it... plastic bags.

The last two are both related to fabric stashes and leftovers. The first, from Crafty Daisies, is a really cute little bag made from scraps. The second, which was one of Crafting a Green World's Earth Day posts, is a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek look at the Top 5 Ways Your Fabric Stash Can Save The Earth.

Now, off to support my habit...er, I mean, go finish my teaching for today.

April 23, 2008

The Doolittle Blouse, part 3


I'm still getting adjusted to my new work schedule, and so the last two days I was simply too drained to even think about sewing by the time I got to the end of the day. But I did manage to squeeze some time in today-- rather than stress myself out (after all, this is supposed to be fun!) I decided to take the approach that it's better to do smaller, more manageable chunks of a project. So tonight I added the band and the bottom. It looks kind of huge right now on the dummy, and after trying it on myself I think I may need to eventually take the sides in a little more. But I'm going to wait until I get the sleeves on, which I think will be the next project. But I think I might need to figure that out to get the angling right in the front (especially since I'm hoping this will work out to be a blouse I can wear without needing a tank top for plunging neckline coverage!)



April 20, 2008

Shirt and scrapbook progress

C and I finished almost the entire scrapbook yesterday! It's a total of 58 pages, and we only have 3 left to go (movie quotes and song lyrics that we weren't able to get written out in advance.) I also got the scrapbook covered in fabric, and I'm trying out this snaplock system that's supposed to be more secure for large scrapbooks than those awful posts. If it works, I'm probably going to redo at least half of my scrapbooks with this. (Especially the one from college that I recently discovered that the cover fell off of because the posts tore out of it!) So far, so good, but I don't quite trust their adhesive (since the fabric cover added a tiny bit of extra thickness that made it pop off a couple times yesterday) so I think I'm going to glue it in securely when all is said and done. There will be pictures, but not yet.

I can, however, show pictures of these.
These two pillows (with pillowcases over top) were made this afternoon-- see the last post for why. They came together really fast, actually, despite being two pillows and removable cases. My mom generously offered to help since I was on a time crunch (was given the fabric yesterday morning, but since C and T were over pretty much all day, and C and I spent at least 10 hours putting that album together--I'm really not exaggerating--I just didn't get to it at all then). So I cut out the pillows and she sewed them together and stuffed them while I cut out the pillowcases. I also did the handsewing on the pillows. I was really pleased with the cases, actually, though I'm really glad I have the serger now because I was able to make the insides of them all nice and professional-looking. So I don't have to feel bad about giving it to someone!
Because of Mom's help, I also had time to do a little bit on the Doolittle blouse, so this is how it is so far:
I really hope the armholes are going to be ok. It seemed fine when I was trying it on in front of the mirror to get the placement for the gathering and to make sure the sides fit, but they look like they're angled really oddly on the dummy! But this is the top of the front so far....
...and the back. Which I had to basically double the width of the dart I'd already sewn in there. The front isn't completely done yet-- I'll still need to sew off the underneath edge once I figure out exactly where the buttons should be placed. I also did get the band for the waistband ready to sew on, but had to stop to eat dinner. And now I'd better get the pillows packed up for that Bible study!

April 18, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 6 (and a few other things)

I only have two Favorites today, mainly because the new job is sucking up a whole bunch of the time that I would normally spend reading craft blogs! I'll adjust. But I'm having to skim large numbers of posts in the meantime. (Incidentally, thank you to the people that I linked who took the time to comment on the posts!)

So without further ado:

1. I can't remember exactly which of my usual blogs I found this link from at the moment. But to go along with last week's DIY cosmetics theme, I found this post at Indie Fixx that told how to make your own hand cream. Which, if I can find the materials, just might have to be tried, because I'm working at a nursery/garden center, and though I don't do too much work with the plants directly other than labeling them for purchase, I can already tell the dirt is drying out my hands more than they normally would be this time of year!

2. As promised, Craft Apple put up her tutorial on gathering. I still really want to make this purse!

A few other notes for the week:
1. Sewing while totally exhausted from working longer hours than I got used to again is a bad idea. I have taken out almost everything I've sewn on the Doolittle Blouse knockoff this week--first the dart on one side because it was pointing up instead of down, and then the last time I worked on it, I sewed the front and back to the shoulders the wrong way, so that the neckline and the armholes met up in ways that nature did not intend. Will be putting some more time in on that this weekend, hopefully, and possibly tonight. It depends, because I have friends coming over for craftiness tomorrow and therefore need to clean some stuff up, and also because...

2. ...a friend in my Bible study asked me if I could sew a couple pillows for a last-minute "baby shower" they're throwing one of the girls on Sunday. She's supposed to call me any time now so I can go pick up the fabric. It'll be a quick project, I'm sure, but I still need to get it done by about 5:45 on Sunday night and will be losing most of the day tomorrow for...

3. ...scrapbooking! Because C and I are putting together the album we're making for J. And T is coming over too, but will likely be crocheting while we scrap.

Speaking of scrapbooking... I'm getting in one of those irritating moods where I want to scrap and sew at the same time! So hopefully tomorrow will help get it out of my system, even though it's going to be a quick-n-simple album. But I'm thinking I may have to go back to my goal of doing one layout every week or two. And I got this book while I was picking up adhesive today-- the title caught my eye because I'm a huge fan of The Emperor's New Grooove (best Disney cartoon ever, hands-down, even though I'm still also partial to Beauty and the Beast and Mulan. But those two don't make me giggle hysterically like ENG. Incidentally, the book referenced this movie on the first page when it was defining "groove", and then I knew I had definitely picked a winner!) Anyway, trying to figure out my scrapbook style is something I've been struggling with for awhile now-- I probably wouldn't think of it, except more often than not, I finish a page and think it still needs something. So I'm hoping to improve that, and thinking if I can define my style, it might help me to push it a little further and get "finished" pages. I've pretty much skimmed through it but need to read it more in-depth.

According to the quiz at the front, I'm pretty much borderline between "eclectic" and "classic". I can see elements of both in my style-- I use a lot of clean lines and normal-sized photos, but I also like to add funky stuff and bright colors in there and try different techniques. (I think I have a dash of what they defined as "anything goes".) The "classic" kind of surprised me. But I'll keep digging and see if I can figure this out, and get some better pages up here!

April 15, 2008

The Doolittle Blouse, part 2: An Approximation

Since I found a new job (which will be starting to morrow) I decided to take advantage of free time in the middle of the day to work on this blouse. (Particularly since, by the time I get done work tonight, all I'll want to do is eat and sit in front of the computer like a bum.) Anyway... I did use that pattern to cut the armholes...

This was the original yoke, which is turning into the "belt"...



I cut the sleeves out of the bottom of the sleeve (nifty detail, plus room left from the top fabric to add to the bottom of the front...)
...and this is an approximation of how the whole thing will look, minus the sleeves. This is still kind of a rough cut, and I'm not quite sure how the one side will work because I'm running into buttonhole facings... might need to add a panel and pretend it was deliberate. Obviously I'm going to line things up and fit it more nicely when I sew it-- this is more so I can remember what piece goes where!

April 14, 2008

The Doolittle Blouse, part 1


I finished dissecting the men's shirt over the weekend, and since I had some time today, I started draping it out. I still have a lot of work to do on it-- I think I'm going to use the pattern pieces from the last blouse that I made as a guide for cutting the armholes and sleeves. And I think I may need to repin the waist part as it is so far-- I'm sitting here looking at it as I type, and I'm not sure if I pinned it crooked or if it's the dummy being crooked! So far, I've used the two front pieces, the cuffs (on the shoulders), half of the back yoke (at the waist) and the back. I'd like to use the bottoms of the sleeves to do the actual sleeves, because I think I need at least one of the tops to have enough fabric for the bottom of the front!

April 12, 2008

Picture post

Just two things. This is the men's shirt I'm chopping up to make the blouse I mentioned yesterday. Very basic, but really nice thick cotton (it's a J. Crew shirt) and I like the color. (A bit darker than it looks here, with narrow white double stripes.)



And this is my finished Azalea tunic, belt and all. I took the picture like this because it fits me better than the dummy. So pardon the lighting.

April 11, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 5

Short (and late) edition this week.


1. This drawstring tunic at Assorted Notions. Just a basic sewing pattern, but it's a very classy print-your-own-fabric job.


2. Craft Apple's corset purse. I love lace-up looks, and the fabric combination is just so fun! She says she's going to put up a tutorial for how she did part of it-- I hope so, because I just might have to steal this for one of my next purses.


3. Nest had a tray made from an old frame. This one's a bit ornate for my taste, but I like the concept, and it's a great way to recycle!


Now, my own craftiness...I haven't taken a picture yet, but I made a sash for my Azalea on Wednesday. So that's done. I've also started dissecting that shirt that I got at the thrift store last week so I can try to make it into this blouse to the left. So far I've only gotten the collar off, and we'll see if I can actually manipulate the pieces into this, but it's a start.

April 8, 2008

Ask, and you shall receive.

The cover-up problem for my Azalea shirt is now solved. I stopped at Goodwill while I was running errands on Friday, just on a whim, and found a long cardigan sweater in exactly the color I needed! It looks a bit winterish, but I think if I fold the sleeves up once or twice to make it 3/4, it'll probably be ok for overly air-conditioned buildings in summer too. (Plus, if I don't actually hem the sleeves off, it will make it more versatile because I'll still be able to wear it in the winter.)

Other Goodwill finds from the weekend: an oversized men's button-up shirt to use in my Anthropologie knock-off attempt, a cropped short-sleeve lightweight sweater that I'm hoping to use as another air conditioning cover-up (for things like the Titania dress), a black tank top that's more work-appropriate than any of the ones I currently own and basically only wear under other things, a green knit shirt with a design on the front that I'm also hoping to be able to wear for work, and (the best part) two pairs of jeans that actually fit me! Even at the waistband! (That part's usually huge on me.) And just in time, too, as two of my older thrifted pairs of jeans are starting to get holes in them from wear. (Still want to learn to sew them, though.) Oh, and I also found a Lord of the Rings board game for $3. The box is kind of bashed in, but when I cut through the tape holding it closed, I discovered everything inside is unopened. So I think me and my fellow geeky friends will have fun with that.

No time to sew for a little bit. I was running around all day on Sunday, and then last night one of my fellow bridesmaids came over and we started working in earnest on a scrapbook for our friend that's getting married this summer. Made some really good progress too-- we got all the photos sorted and laid out by page, and decided what non-photo stuff we want to put in (memorable quotes we recorded of laughable things said while hanging out, mentions of favorite single-girl memories we didn't have pictures from, etc.) We still have to add paper to all the pages, so we're going to get together again this Sunday to do that. And we'll be heading to Baltimore for another weekend hang-out with our mutual (and also crafty) friend who lives down there, so odds are we'll try to assemble the entire album while she crochets. So I need to get my share of that ready to go this week. But I also want to take the time to make that belt and sew on the hook and eye so that my Azalea will be done! Perhaps tomorrow night, as today is one of my later teaching ones and I probably won't want to bother with measuring or cutting out after that.

April 4, 2008

Friday Favorites, Episode 4

Can't really categorize this week's offering-- it's really random.

1. As most of you who actually read this probably know, I love ThreadBanger. I grew up with craft shows, since my mom is also a very crafty lady, but have often found the projects on them to be kind of lame for my tastes (I'm way more rock n' roll than country.) So if this had been around when I was a teenager, I would have been probably making everything featured on this show. Of course, as it is, I generally watch this more for the entertainment value, since a lot of the projects are rather easy for me by this point. That, and though I can get away with a lot more than, say, someone who worked in the buisness world, I do feel it's important to try to maintain some form of professionalism in my dress while I'm teaching (albeit funky, artsy professional.) After all, this is my buisness. And while a lot of what they show is great for teenagers and college students, doesn't work so well for an older 20-something in the working world.

That being said, I was really excited about this past week's new episode. It's a technique I've never tried (freehand machine embroidery), I've had that foot sitting in my box unused for years, and this is something that I could actually use. My head is reeling with the possibilities of custom-embroidered bags, jeans pockets, etc. (I just have to try it first.)

2. Creative Kismet showed some lineoleum block-carved stamping that she made for some notecards. This is another one of those art forms that I've had some exposure to (we did a bit of that in my high school art class too-- I still have one of my more intricate stamps down in the basement with my other crafty stuff), but I never got this involved on it. I love all the layering and the colors (and the design, of course, because I really love tree-based designs).

3. Laura gets the most practical application award this week, thanks to this well-written and illustrated how-to on underlining and finishing a garment with Hong Kong seams. I've been wanting to try the underlining technique as part of my resolution to learn how to finish the insides of my clothes better. I just haven't found the right project to attempt it yet, since pretty much all I've been sewing this year so far are simple tunics and skirts and the like. But once I do, like next time I make a jacket or something, I will certainly be returning to this.

4. The craziest item of the week, as seen through Crafting a Green World: a musical dress. I kid you not. Somebody wove this "sonic fabric" out of the innards of old tape cassettes, designed a hand-held device that allows one to "play" it (like the same thing that's inside a tape player that reads the tape), and made a dress out of it, gave it to the lead singer of Phish, and he "played" it on stage.

5. Also through Crafting a Green World: vinyl wrist cuffs. Being the music junkie that I am, I have long admired crafts that recycled things like records and cds. And since I really have no reason to try the record bowl that everyone's made by this point anyway, I really like this (and I don't think it would clash with the "funky professional" aesthetic I mentioned earlier in the post). This one they show is extra-cool because of the vinyl color, but either way it gives me another reason to reconsider browsing the record section of the thrift store....

6. Not a craft, but I still really enjoyed two posts over at Beadlust this week. In the first post, she instructs you to draw five symbols, and then number them in order of what visually appeals to you most to least. (She got this from a psychologist friend.) Then, in the second post, she reveals what each symbol stands for, and what their placement in the 1-5 order means. Surprisingly insightful, and since I love personality tests anyway, it was fun to have one art-related.

April 3, 2008

Standing Still

I'm at a bit of a stuck point on my shirt. I wasn't totally happy with the look of the shrug, and after some experimentation and trying on things already in my closet over the shrug (and a second opinion from my mom, who's used to my sewing questions), we came to the conclusion that it's the texture of the grey. It needs more contrast. Style-wise, what looked best over it out of what I had was a chunky-knit cardigan (though the color of the one I have is all wrong). So I figure I have two options-- try to find some kind of knit at Joanns' (since I need to go anyway and exchange some paper for my scrapbook) and sew from scratch, or try to thrift something grey and sweater-like that I can reconstruct. The latter would be my preference, but it's a case of a) being able to find something that's the right color and not wool and b) whether they even have sweaters out still, since it's spring now. But I'm going to be going there this weekend anyway with some friends, so I'll add that to my small mental list of "things to look for so I can totally destroy them with reconstruction ideas, mwahaha".

So, rather than start a new project and leave this one unfinished, my brain is content to simply ponder the things I want/need to sew in the upcoming months. Here's a sampling...

1. I really want to attempt something along the lines of Anthropologie's Doolittle Blouse. I just love that assymmetric button thing. The only pattern I know of is one from Burda, and I saw a review on BurdaStyle from someone who made it and was completely unhappy with the fit, and I think this could be a really fun reconstruction anyway. So I'm hoping to find a ginormous men's button-down at Goodwill that I can tear to shreds for this cause. (Or, if I'm extremely lucky, store leftovers that are two of a kind!)

2. Years ago, when I was in high school, I made myself a messenger bag out of a pair of wale-less corduroy pants that my brother no longer wanted. (My first reconstruction, really.) I hauled that thing around for almost a decade-- it was the perfect size for stuff like city day trips and outdoor summer music festivals. The lining was hand-sewn in the bag, so I had to repair it probably a dozen times or so. After Purple Door this past summer, I was finally forced to admit that this bag has finally begun to fall apart beyond repair. So this is the other thing I want to find at Goodwill-- a pair of sturdy pants that I can make another bag out of! I need something for rock concerts! (I still have the original bag so I can use it once more for dimensions.)

3. I need to make myself a purse for a wedding this summer that I'm a bridesmaid for. I have some silver satin left over from a skirt I made a few years ago that will go perfect, since our shoes are silver. It's very lightweight though, so I'm going to need to do some serious stabilizing. (Probably in the form of fusing it to heavier-weight fabric before even attempting anything with it.) The challenge: I need to make it elegant and compact, but still large enough to hold both my car keys and (more importantly to me) my camera! Along with other bridesmaid necessities like cash for the hairstylist, lip balm for touchups, and bandaids for the blister I'm more likely than not going to end up with from my shoes. :P

4. A few years ago, I had several weddings to attend during the summer, so I made this dress, hoping I could wear it for all three. (Different crowds.) Unfortunately, the dress was horribly unflattering, as you can see, and I didn't have time to make another one until before the third wedding. I liked the fabric still (despite the pink) and so I didn't want to toss it, so it's been in the recon pile for awhile. Now that I have a serger, I think I'll be able to deal with the sheer much easier (hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to do those rolled hems on the bottom and then I won't have to do the folded-under-pain-in-the-butt-on-sheer hems!) So I'm hoping this will be the year that this dress becomes wearable again. There's actually two layers of the sheer, due to the assymetric, so I think I'm going to try something different for me and try to reconstruct it using an actual pattern. I'm going to check out a few of the major pattern companies (especially Vogue) before I settle for sure, but at the moment I'm thinking that BurdaStyle's Cate might work rather nicely.

I'm not just thinking of sewing, of course-- the scrapbook bug has bitten me again, and just in time since another bridesmaid and I are going to be putting one together as a bachelorette gift for my friend who's getting married this summer (kind of a last look back at her single days, since she had a rather whirlwind romance). We've already done the photo scanning, I did the necessary editing, they're getting printed now, and we're going to sort them out and see what else we can get done on Monday. I'm also pondering some of my own scrapbooking, of course, and I have about five more necklaces and six sets of earrings to make for the rest of the bridesmaids (I'm doing our wedding jewelry), and I have an ATC sketched out plus one in progress that I want to do...

But none of this tonight. I've been fighting off a headache all afternoon, so I'm just going to sit here with the tv and the recipe pile I'm organizing-- brainless, and I made good progress with it earlier so I want to see how much else I can get done here.

April 2, 2008

Inquiring minds want to know...

Since Mom2fur and Sharon wanted to know what happened with the yoke, first of all, sorry for taking so long. I didn't have a chance to do anything with it until tonight.





Had a bit of an adventure trying it on and trying to hold up the straps, and discovered that they were indeed too short. But since I'm too lazy to rip out the whole thing (and a bit concerned about messing up the main fabric), I decided to improvise.






I was hoping for one of those "strap tie" looks-- basically it's just a tube the width of the strap, stitched onto the edges. I knotted the ends of the threads before clipping too, and I'm hoping that will be sufficient to hold it-- I thought it would look nicer if I didn't backstitch.






So this is my Azalea shirt so far (and I hope it's not really as assymetric as it looks! I have got to figure out a way to stabilize my perpetually leaning dummy.) Just for the record, this isn't what the belt is going to look like--I just wanted to cinch it in to see what it would really look like, and to give me a guideline for draping the shrug. I want to make that before I make the waist tie just to make sure I'll have enough fabric.

So I'm thinking maybe something like this for the shrug-- basically all I did was tack it at the waist to form a sort of shawl with "sleeves". I'll probably have to modify this to make something like actual kimono sleeves, so that it doesn't slide right off my arms in unflattering ways while I'm playing my flute or something. Right now, it's just kind of sitting there. I do like the shawl collar with this drapey shirt, but need to figure out a simple way to make it. I also think I want a wider belt than what Burdastyle uses-- theirs looks like it's maybe 1.5" wide tops. So I'm debating whether I want to do a long wraparound tie, sort of like a kimono obi, or something that laces in the middle a little more like a corset. Leaning more towards the tie, but it depends on how much of the solid grey I have left.