July 31, 2011

Fairly quickie refashion

Working on Saturdays always makes me a little cranky. The good thing was that I got off earlier than I thought (ok, not so good for my wallet), so I decided to do some sewing. I'm more inclined to refashioning when I'm cranky, because then I get to destroy things first. So I took one of my more recent thrift store acquisitions and chopped it up a bit. (Picture-heavy post coming up.)

I liked the color of this dress. And oddly, I liked the ruffle at the bottom.

I also liked this cute matching belt. Unfortunately, even at its tightest, the belt is too big for me. Which was a pretty big factor in what I ended up doing with it.

The more I was looking at this, the less I could see myself wearing this as a dress. I thought about dissecting it solely for fabric, but I couldn't really see it as a top of some sort either. So I decided to take it into a different and much more useable route-- I've badly needed some more summer sleepwear this year, especially since one of my few pajama shorts is literally falling to pieces. (No surprise, since I made them when I was 15 or something.) So I decided to go for a nightgown-ish sort of thing.

First thing I did was take out the side zipper, and then cut the skirt off of the top. Then I sewed the seam back up...

Then I fiddled around with it to figure out how long a portion of the skirt I wanted to use, based it together (it was a sheer fabric over top of a lining) and chopped off the excess.

I took the back next, and ended up trimming off pretty much everything above where the armhole curve started, then made an elastic casing at the top.


Then I took what was left of the back, which was still attached to the front, and trimmed off a good chunk of the back to make some straps.

Then I turned under the raw edge and stitched it... I know it looks a little weird with just that part topstitched, but you can't really tell on the finished product...

....because I made the straps all twisted up.








Then I sewed the straps to the back-- the front was kind of a surplice thing, so it was in two pieces.




Then I sewed the top part to the skirt...

....and sewed elastic on top of the seam to try and pull it in a bit. I guess the elastic I used wasn't super-stretchy, because there's not a whole lot of give there, so I might replace it. Seems to fit ok though.

And here's the finished result. It's definitely much frillier than my usual pjs, and not the sort of top I'd ever wear in public because it's way too low-cut and definitely has that maternity vibe. But I had fun making it, it was fun to experiment with a style I don't normally do. It was pretty comfortable to sleep in, too. And even if it is kind of frilly and girly, no one sees me when I sleep anyway. So works fine for me!

July 29, 2011

A very fluffy skirt

My sister-in-law is a lot of fun. She really is like the little sister I never had, so I just call her that. And we're both on the tech crew at our church, so when we're both scheduled at the same time, sometimes interesting stuff comes out of it. Take, for instance, a couple of weeks ago. She came into the room, and upon seeing me, announced, "I tried on a dress yesterday that made me look like a pixie!" But she couldn't remember which store it was at. So after about half an hour or so of both of us searching on our phones, she finally found the picture. I don't have it, but it was basically a beaded corset with a tulle skirt. I mused that, with the right thrifted formal dress, it could probably be somewhat copied. And from there, it turned into her deciding that she needs a tulle skirt to wear out for her upcoming birthday. So, being the great older sister that I am (haha), I agreed to make one for her. So without further ado, I present the fluffiest skirt I have ever made!

The colors aren't quite right, but it is three shades of blue, which I zig-zag stitched onto a short skirt made of knit fabric.

Kind of like this--it's a little wonky at the top because we're somewhat different sizes, but you get the idea.














I do have to admit that it reminds me a little of this....

But we both love Firefly so that's ok. I texted her a picture of it and she seems excited--- I just hope she likes it when she tries it on! Sewing for other people always makes me a little nervous!


The bonus thing is that I'm counting this for A Yen For Craft's Challenge: Ridiculous. After all, I basically just made a tutu for an almost-25-year-old! (Not the project I originally had in mind, and I'm hoping I still get to the one I was thinking this summer since it was part of my Summer Essentials plan, but gotta roll with it.)

Before I go, just a few follow-ups from the last post about the corset-laced pants:
First of all, thanks to Joy, Gail, Kelly and Alessa for offering suggestions about the lacing. In the end, I did swap them out for some leather, which seemed to wash ok so far except for a bit of curling:


(Again, not quite accurate coloring, and they're not ironed or anything, but I think this will work much better.)

Anoriell also asked what my next big project is going to be...honestly, I'm not entirely sure yet! I'm at the point of the summer where I am beginning to think ahead to what I might want to make this fall, and so far, I have three things in mind:

1. Those jeans I've been trying to make for years. Now that I have a successful pants fitting job under my belt, surely I can finally conquer these things! Right?

2. A corduroy jacket that I meant to make last winter, but never got to. Fully lined and everything.

3. I've been thinking that I might want to make a cold-weather raincoat-- as much as I love my peacoat, which is still holding up well after 4 winters of use, it's really not that great for those cold rainy fall/winter days--the coat just gets kind of damp and doesn't repel anything. (Darn wool sensitivity....it would probably work better if it was made out of that!) And the only raincoat I have is very lightweight, and VERY spring/summer looking (i.e. it's bright turquoise.) So while it would be complicated, especially figuring out how to make it warm enough for my cold-blooded self, it would be very practical.

So you see the problem-- everything I want to make is complicated and time-consuming! I do already have fabric for the first two, but nothing that would work for the raincoat so I'd have to buy things. And I already know I'd be picky about it, because I already have a rather firmly stuck mental picture of wanting it to be brown. Choices, choices....

July 25, 2011

Odyssey tank progress, and a fail tale

First of all, thanks for all of the lovely, encouraging comments on the pants! After reading some of your thoughts, and since I have a little extra time this afternoon, I think I'm going to run over to Joann's before my evening work and see if they have any alternate things in a closer color that I could use to replace those lacings. I only looked in the trims, but maybe I can find something in the jewelry section.

Since knitting was my main craft of last week, figured I should show where things stand now.
This is the front so far-- not entirely finished, since I'll have to add the neckline edging and weave in the ends, but it's very close.

As of yesterday, this is how much I've gotten done on the back. I think I'm something like 30 rows in.

After much deliberation, I went ahead and ordered another ball of yarn from the same place. Since I only got something like 14 rows out of the third ball before I ran out, and after measuring how much I got per ball in the front several times, I decided that it's highly unlikely that I have enough yarn to finish. I just hope the dyelot thing works out-- I asked them for the same one if possible in the special instructions box.

(Of course, since I couldn't justify paying shipping for 1 ball of yarn, I ended up ordering enough for another project. I guess I have a yarn stash now. Darn it!)

And in the interest of full disclosure, I do tend to write about my failures as well as my successes on here. And I've been meaning to share this story for awhile, it just kept getting put off because the pants were way more exciting. So here goes...

Some of you may remember that two summers ago, I attempted to make a mini-wardrobe, with varying degrees of success from project to project. One of the projects ended up being that my mom crocheted me a wrap out of this bamboo-acrylic yarn. Which was really sweet of her, but it ended up not really working out. Which was my fault-- not only did I make the mistake of picking the yarn out before I got the main inspiration fabric in the mail, meaning it was the wrong color, I didn't purchase enough of it to get a wrap with a functional length.

So after I started knitting, I unraveled it. After all, I'd never actually been able to use it, and I don't like wasting things. Only problem is, this yarn was ugly. A color I never would have picked, if I hadn't been trying to match this badly-conceived wardrobe. The picture doesn't really show the color that great. On the website, they call it "Misty Taupe". I call it "dirty concrete sidewalk" or "the color of boredom". I think it also looks more tan on the website than it actually was--it's like this tannish grey.

Or was this tannish grey, to be more precise. Knowing I would never, ever wear anything made out of this blah, uninspiring color, I decided that the obvious thing to do was to dye it. So I picked up a couple of packets of iDye at the store--both similar shades of green, one in the iDye Poly and one in the regular natural fiber, thinking that the combination would make it hit both the bamboo and the acrylic.

I had envisioned this nice, mossy green color. This is what I got instead.
Pretty much the exact shade of the weather-beaten wood on the family's old playhouse deck. That's right, people, I went from taupe to a slightly darker taupe. (And this is what it looked like when wet-- after it dried, it was definitely more grey-looking than this.)

Which left me with the debate--what to do with six skeins of still-icky-colored yarn? After awhile, I figured I should probably at least wind it into balls and put it somewhere, because I'd had it drying on a flipped-over music stand and I needed to use that again. So I grabbed the skeins, the swift and the yarn ball winder, and proceeded to wind the first two with relatively little pain. A few annoyances, to be sure, because despite having tied it in quite a few places around the skein, they kind of fell apart in the dye bath a little. But relatively little pain.

The third skein was an entirely different story. About halfway through winding it up, it got so ridiculously tangled that I had to take the remaining yarn off of the swift, spend the next two hours untangling it from the opposite end (mainly because I'm stubborn and I didn't want to let the yarn win), and wind it back onto the swift.

Then I started winding it again, and it fell off of the yarn ball winder. And of course the middle immediately got all sucked together so I couldn't put it back on. I should have taken a picture, but it was around midnight at this point and I was annoyed.

So then I wound the entire skein back onto the swift, and tried to wind it a third time. At which point one of the pegs fell out of the swift, leaving it in a tangled mess once more. I finally ended up cutting a big chunk off and called it a night.

So the next day, and after bouncing it off of my mom, my crocheter sis-in-law and one of my knitting friends, I did the only thing I could do that would leave my sanity intact:
I still feel a little bad about throwing it out, but ugly and unmanageable was just too killer of a combo. So I guess the moral of the story is either a) use an all-natural fiber yarn to dye with, b) tie it up a heck of a lot more than I did, or c) leave yarn-dyeing to the professionals in yarn shops and on Etsy.

(Incidentally, this seems to be a summer of bad dye jobs, given the pants-- I originally tried to dye some off it with RIT dye that was pretty much the exact same color as my pants on the box, but came out a chocolate brown on the cording, and then the tea dye came out way too light. I have one other dye experiment I wanted to attempt at some point before it gets cold again, again with the iDye poly.... I'm kind of scared to try it now!)

July 24, 2011

And Operation Awesome Pants is a success!

I completely was not thinking about this when I picked out the rest of the outfit, but I somehow ended up styling them rather like the original Anthropologie picture for their public debut! My thought process was way more "ooh, now I can finally wear that ModCloth vest I'd debated for ages before caving and have barely been able to figure out what to wear it with since." But here's my picture.... (please ignore the frizzy hair and shiny face, this was taken just after making multiple trips up and down the stairs and out to my car in 98-degree weather to unload from last week's dogsitting job)


And here's the original model shot. I don't even have that much pink-- the only reason I have this shirt is basically due to a wager of sorts with one of my friends (i.e. she'd go hiking with me if I wore a pink shirt, since it's my least favorite color.) Crazy, huh?

Anyway, how did I do? I do wish the lacing was closer in color to the actual pants, but I know that making it from the linen would not have worked with the eyelet holes--as it is, this cording just barely fit. So the tea-dyeing was the closest I could get.

And a shot of the back. This is hands-down the best pants-fitting job I've ever done.

A few close-up details:

Of course I had to put an interesting button on. I've had this one in my stash for years-- I think I originally got it thinking it would look cool on jeans. (I have another one, so I still might try that.) I think it's supposed to be a sundial of sorts, since there's little Roman numerals etched around the edge-- 1 through 24.

The waistband facing and some of the seam finishing. I did the Hong Kong finishes on the straight seam, and for more difficult ones like the ones in the pleat and the curved crotch seams, I did more of a zigzag seam finish. (I took a tip from Sunni over at A Fashionable Stitch and did the zigzagging more next to the edge than over it, like I've always done before-- I never thought to do it that way! The linen is so fray-prone that it looks very much like I just stitched it over the edge anyway, but I'm hoping that will prevent it from happening more.)

Incidentally, I think this cotton print that I randomly had in my stash was the perfect complement to the caramel-colored linen! And I managed to use up all but one largish triangle, which I have plans for....

This is certainly the best-looking/most painless fly-front zipper I've done to date. Does that mean I've conquered my nemesis?

The one thing I do still need to do is figure out how to best finish the ends of the cording--it's just a braided cotton, so it could easily get unbraided and turn into fringe. Which, just, no. I don't really have enough to tie knots at the end-- as it is, I barely had enough to knot the ends of the lacing itself! But I wasn't going to let a little detail like that stop me from wearing them today. (It's just going to stop me from washing them quite yet. Which is probably TMI.)

Anyway, since this project's been well over four months in the making, as well as the major hold-up in my Summer Essentials plan, it's good to finally have it (basically) done! I'm feeling rather accomplished. And in need of a quick sewing project. I sense a quick-n-dirty refashion in my future....

July 23, 2011

2 cool things:

1. At long last, the Anthropologie pants are done! I finished hemming them this morning. Pictures are going to have to wait, as this is the last night of the dogsitting job and I have nothing better than a house with limited light and my phone camera, which will not do them justice. But I'm wearing them to church tomorrow for certain (the one time I'm glad of the extreme air conditioning, because I won't melt in them until I go back outside--hopefully the linen will be ok for the drive home!) So I'll take the pictures tomorrow while I have them in an outfit and all.

2. I forgot to mention in my last post that I won a giveaway! Alessa at Farbenfreude had a giveaway for her birthday recently, and I won a copy of Sewaholic's new Lonsdale dress pattern! (Which is great, because I meant to get it in the pre-order, got sidetracked by life, and missed the deadline.) I'm really excited about this pattern--it's not often that I've seen a maxi-dress pattern that actually is fitted in the waist instead of that empire-waist cut, which is what's partially foiled all of my previous attempts to make one. This just might be the one that works for me. I can't justify jumping into the upcoming sew-along, because I've had a couple of sewing projects come up that I need to get done that have August deadlines. Plus I only have 2 1/2 of my 5 planned Summer Essentials Sew-along pieces done, and it's nearly the end of July. (And I feel like I should make up the Crescent Skirt first, since I've had that pattern and the newly purchased fabric for it sitting around for a couple of months.) But it'll be good to have the posts there for when I get to it--and while I have nothing in my stash in sufficient quantities for the maxi-dress, I do have a print that's been there for years that will probably be absolutely perfect to test the pattern out with the shorter version. Thanks again, Alessa!

Speaking of those summer essentials, since I'm using my current knitting project as one of the five, I guess I should also mention that as of tonight, I'm over 20 rows into the back. Spent some quality time tonight with a beloved movie I've been meaning to re-watch for awhile and the knitting needles. So I'm something like a fifth of the way there (dummy me, I should have written down the total number of rows, but I don't think I did.) I am getting a little nervous about having enough yarn to finish, since I was well into ball #3 by the time I got done the front and I still need to have enough left for the neck edging and sewing it together in the end. They still have it at the online store I bought it from (assuming I finish this up quickly enough that they don't run out), but I don't know if it would be the same dyelot. Plus I hate to place an order and pay shipping for one ball of yarn....


July 20, 2011

Sneak preview

Or at least as much of one as I can give with a crappy phone photo. I haven't been home much this week, because I'm dogsitting for a friend who is currently out of the country. But I have had to go home for part of the day the last couple of days, mostly for flute-teaching related reasons. My hours at my retail job also got cut back (the bad time of year) so I've had a couple of hours to kill.

The lacing's not a perfect match, but I think it's as close as I can get without making it out of the same fabric. (Which will make it too thick for the buttonholes anyway.) The inside seams are all finished (at least as well as I can for some of the more curved ones), the outer waistband is on, and the fly-front zipper is in. A lot more winging it this time, since I was inexplicably unable to make heads or tails of the directions this time, but a lot fewer hot dates with my seam ripper. So I guess that's a success. I also ended up having to go back and topstitch all over the pleat to give it more definition, since it just looked like super-baggy pants when it was on. On the plus side, around my waist/hips/thighs, this is hands-down the best-fitting pair of pants I have ever made so far!

I've been without my sewing machine while I'm here (I've learned from previous times of watching this particular dog that sewing is not a compatible activity, because she will inevitably try to walk on freshly-ironed pieces or drop a drool-covered toy right in the middle of my fabric). So I've been doing a lot of knitting. As of Monday night, the front of the tank I'm making is all done! Other than weaving in ends and doing a neckline bit. I cast on the back yesterday, and am something like 3 rows in. Hopefully this half will go quicker than the first one.

July 11, 2011

Of sewing pleats and sweater(ish) progress

The pants are nearly at a point where I can start constructing them normally. But since several of you have expressed interest in how I'm putting these together, I thought I'd share how I ended up adding the pleat to the front. At this stage, they're looking really good, so I'm excited! (And fervently hoping they still look this good once it's all together.)

As mentioned in the last post, I cut a long, stretched out trapezoid to actually sew the pleat in. So this is the super-extra wide legs with the trapezoid in the middle.

I also stuck a scrap of silk organza into the seams on the inside, to help reinforce/stabilize the eyelet buttonholes I knew I'd need to make.

I understitched the seams, pressing them towards the trapezoid, to give it a nice clean finish later. The pants are box-pleated, so I figured it would be ok to stitch along the inside edge where the pleat insert is.

The buttonholes were the first serious obstacle here. I played around with several different things. The eyelets were too small for the cording I have and I couldn't make them much bigger, the stitched circles seemed too flimsy, and while the metal eyelets would give a cleaner finish, I didn't trust them to not pull out. Especially since they weren't really going in that well in the first place. So I ended up having to actually hand-stitch all 24 of those little round buttonholes! Mostly. I used the circle stitch to give it a nice edge to work from/mark the placement for me. But that took about 3 days of all the sewing time I had.

I think it was worth it in the end, though. Look how clean and pretty they look!

Next step was making the actual pleat. I'd already turned and pressed the seam edges before I did the buttonholes, but I re-pressed those edges to reinforce it. After playing around a bit, I decided that it would work better to just have the edges meet in the middle all the way down the leg, rather than to press the same amount in all the way down and leave a wedge of the inner pleat fabric showing. More Anthropologie and less the effect of ripping a slit up the front of my jeans and sewing fabric in to make instant bell bottoms, like I did for Spirit Week one year in high school. So I carefully folded and pinned the whole thing down, trying to keep it as centered as possible....

...and then I flipped it over and pressed it on the wrong side so I could keep the iron right by the edges. I didn't want to accidentally melt the pins into my nice linen! The other thing I did was to use a trick I found in the linen section of Claire Schaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide-- apparently pleats set better in linen if you spray it first with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. The pleat came out pretty crisp, so I guess it worked! (I guess the real test will be after the first time I wash them....)

And here's how it looks right now-- a nice pleat going all the way down the leg, which I imagine will show the flare from the inside of the pleat as I walk. Hard to tell with just one floppy piece of fabric hanging near my leg, but that's how I envision it working.

The other slow project is the tank top I've been knitting. But I'm almost done the front! At least, until I have to deal with neck edging. I have the second half of the top front to knit up, but the good thing is that taking the stitches off the holder and getting the knitting going with a new ball of yarn there seems to have worked pretty well. I obviously haven't been working on this a whole lot in the last several days, namely due to buttonholes and a concert I was playing in that had rehearsals every day of the weekend. But the one half knit up pretty quickly, so I might be able to get this part done if I just sit down for a night and do it.

And here's a closeup. It's supposed to be wavy ribs like that. I kind of wish I'd gotten this done earlier this month, because this would have been a perfect shirt to wear for Independence Day, with the rich blue color and the reddish/blueish metallic stripe that runs through the yarn! Oh well, maybe next year.... I should have it done before THAT, right?

July 6, 2011

Back to the pants....it's alteration time!

Warning-- super pic-heavy post coming up!
It took awhile for me to get going on my next Summer Essential again--got interrupted by the necessity of a laptop bag, work, and travel. But hey, travel gave me something sewing-related to post here! A couple of my good friends and I went to Hogwarts (technically Universal Studios in Florida, though we spent most of our day there at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section), and I couldn't resist taking pictures of the magical sewing supplies in the window of the wizard tailoring shop! (No, you couldn't go inside, it was just a storefront. But still.)

I thought the tape measure cat was pretty cute. In the other window, there was a tape measure that unrolled and retracted itself, but that was a little harder to get pictures of.


Anyway, back to work!

I started working on altering the actual pants pattern a couple of weeks ago, but didn't quite finish until this weekend. So here's what I've done so far. First thing was to fix the crotch on the regular pattern (that's a pretty big scoop there! But for some reason it worked...)


And since the welt pockets didn't work out so well on the shorts, I changed the front to be a side slash pocket. Horizontal welts wouldn't work so well with the lacing. So now I have 2 pocket pieces.

I also discovered that the pants were already pretty flared. So adding another piece for the pleat would basically turn them into a tent for each leg. So since I was retracing the entire pattern for the purpose of adding the waistband anyway, I went ahead and straightened the legs some--took about an inch or so off the bottom of each seam. I figured that should compensate for the extra width I'm adding to the front, so hopefully I'm right!

As for the pleat itself, I don't have a good picture of it yet, but what I ended up doing was drawing a sort of stretched out trapezoid-shaped piece that runs the entire length of the leg. Since the leg is seamed down the middle anyway, I was thinking that adding a new piece of fabric would be a much easier way to add the pleat and maintain the fit that I already tweaked, rather than just combining the two pieces. Plus then the grainlines would have been all wonky on one side of the leg. Don't want that. It's about 4" wide at the top and 7" wide at the bottom, so once it's sewn in and actually pressed into the pleat, I think it'll end up being fairly close to the original leg circumference. (If I measured it right off of the pattern, the leg hems are originally 28.5"! Love those hippie flares!)

On Sunday, I cut into my linen. I'm doing the same thing with the facings here that I did on the shorts, and using a cotton print (from the stash, of course.) I'm also planning on Hong Kong seam-finishing as much as I can, since I know the linen is going to have a tendency to fray, so that'll be a good way to use up most, if not all, of the rest of the cotton print. I'm going to do the actual waistband facing a little differently this time, though. I'll go into that later.

Since I don't have my retail job today and I have a nice chunk of time this afternoon between students, my goal/hope for today is to get as much of the front sewn together as possible. Here goes nothing!

p.s. I actually may even have a knitting update soon, since I have actual visible progress. But today, sewing comes first.

July 3, 2011

It's a bag-stravaganza!

I know, I know, cheesy title. But I did finish two bags within the last two days-- one on Friday, and spent the majority of yesterday sewing the other.

Bag #1, which I finished on Friday, is a case of sorts for the yarn swift I picked up awhile back. No more cardboard packing tube! This was made entirely from pieces of scraps--mostly free samples that I was given once, about 12x12"-ish pieces, but if that white fabric with the sunflowers looks familiar, that's because it's leftovers from the Sunflower skirt. The black floral fabric is also clothing leftovers, from a thrifted dress-to-top refashion I did prior to the blog.

As for the lining, that's a piece of my old closet curtains. It's splotchy because it was hand-dyed and batiked by yours truly to simulate stars. (The fabric was originally on the bedroom ceiling, because I wanted a starry ceiling and hadn't been allowed to paint it.)

The swift fits pretty nicely in there. Now I just need to come up with something for the ball winder...


And here's bag #2. There's this game that some friends introduced me to several years ago called Munchkin-- kind of a parody card version of those Dungeons & Dragons-type games.And all of the weapons and armor you get have these funny names like "Boots of Butt-Kicking", etc. I think I'm going to have to call this one my "Bag of Extreme Stash-busting"-- would you believe that this one bag used up almost 4 yards of fabric? 3 3/4, to be precise.  First of all, there's the denim/brocade outer bit (the fabric was already stitched into these stripes, I'm not that crazy. At least not this time.) And then I used a pretty nice chunk of some random lavender twill that I was given for free, substituting for the canvas that was called for to interface the bag. And then on top of that, the bag itself is padded, which used up the majority of some grey fleece. And I also lined it, so that fully used up some silky polyester stuff I picked up for some patchwork-type skirt that I never actually got around to making.

(Said silky polyester stuff.) I tried to take a picture of the inside pocket-- it's kind of interesting, since it's a zipped patch pocket that just hangs from the facing. But I couldn't get a very good shot of it once it was all constructed.

This bag was for the laptop that I got recently, which you can kind of see peeking out. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel, so I used Simplicity 4391 (I'd picked it up awhile back to fill out a 5 for $5 sale purchase), with a few tweaks. Namely enlarging the bag, though I did take the flap from the regular messenger bag, and change the velcro to buckles and webbing.

And I did add an extra pocket onto the back, to hold the little cooling pad thing I got with it.

It was really nice to just knock out a project quickly-and have an entire day to sew! I'm pleased with the results overall, even though the bag itself is quite weighty. And no wonder, considering all the fabric that went into it!

(Incidentally, this bag gets me down to about 255 yards of stash--technically a little less since I cut out the pants today, but I haven't added that in yet. So I'm down almost 20 yards from where I started this year!)