August 29, 2011

Fall is in the air...

First off, thanks for the well-wishes about Irene. I actually ended up with a best-case scenario--no loss of power, no flooding, basically just a lazy weekend of staying inside to avoid the wind and rain. We did have a tornado warning at one point, which was kind of scary, but if there was one, it got nowhere near me. Guess I could have sewed this weekend after all, lol! But I did get some knitting done, so that's something. (No pics yet, because it's not going to take me that long to finish this project. I just need to sit down and do it. So I'll hold off on that.)

Secondly, thanks for all of the suggestions so far for what to do with that floral fabric. There's a couple of suggestions I found particularly intriguing, so I'm thinking through it. And by all means, if you have any other ideas, keep them coming!

I think the hurricane may have blown in some early fall weather--usually around here in August, it's still really hot and sticky. But it's actually really nice out today--sunny and only 75 degrees. The perfect day for taking my new knitted top out for a test drive, really. (Paired it with my sunflower skirt, since this is basically my last chance to wear it if I follow that silly "no white after Labor Day" rule.) Since I've still had no luck in the job-hunting department and therefore didn't have work this morning, I took the opportunity to kick-start my fall sewing as well.

This was actually the last thing on my "summer essentials" list, but I'm going to use it to ease myself into sewing for cooler weather again. I saw a blouse kind of similar to this around last year at a store--pretty simple cut, but it had some nice details with the sleeves and especially the buttons. That's going to be the tricky part to figure out-- I remember they were sewn on there in groups of 3, with a sort of loop closure. So while my fabric is rather sheer and I'll always have to wear it over top of something anyway, and therefore wardrobe malfunctions won't be an issue, I'm still hoping I can figure out a way to do that middle part so it's not gapping open all the time.

So my strategy for replicating this was to make a mash-up pattern based on my favorite blouse pattern, and the Burda pattern I used for the Ayden shirt. It's mostly straightforward-- I'm using the sleeves from view D and the sort of mandarin-style collar from view E (the yellow blouse, kind of cut off in this pic) out of the New Look as is. And it's basically the front and back of the Burda pattern, though I retraced the back so that I could add a little more width and alter the armholes to match the New Look. The upper front was where it gets the most complicated, so I took a couple of pictures.


The shoulder widths and angles line up perfectly! The armholes on the Burda do cut a little higher, so when I retraced it, I did go with the New Look armhole (the newsprinty-looking section-- this was my piece that I traced out and altered for the Chevron blouse.) As you can see, the widths are a bit different, and the angles at the neckline. Since I knew I wanted to use the New Look collar, I'd have to fix that.

So here's kind of where it ended up-- the neck angle of the New Look, and the bottom shaping of the Burda. The final piece ended up looking even a little different than that, because I realized that with the way the front should end up working and the sheerness of the fabric, there's really no good way to do a facing in this. So I trimmed the seam allowance off there a bit and I'm just going to do a bias strip binding instead. Hopefully it'll work out ok...I've never done a closure like this before and I have a feeling that winging will be involved. But it is all cut out now, except for interfacing. (Which will probably be more of the never-ending piece of silk organza, just because that would work better with the sheerness.)

August 27, 2011

So who wants to help me bust some stash?


If you're anywhere near the east coast of the US right now, you know the big story is Hurricane Irene, which is currently heading north and right towards my little corner of the world. My tiny little Mid-atlantic state is under a state of emergency right now, though I'm far enough inland that I don't need to evacuate or anything. But we're still supposed to get a lot of rain and possible flooding and stuff, so part of my preparations was to make sure things like a few piles of fabric, the foot pedals to my sewing machine and serger, and the hanging file folder holding the majority of my scrapbook paper were safely off the basement ground. (Which means I'm going to be having a knitting day instead of a sewing day, since I don't want to forget and leave my foot pedals down again, and I can't cut out my next project due to the table I use for that being piled up with some small bins of patterns and said scrapbook paper.)

Since I had some fabric bins out to move leftovers from my summer projects around anyway, I went ahead and pulled out a couple of things in preparation for fall sewing! I left the fabric for the last of the blouses I had planned for the summer, since I think it'll still work as a transitional piece. But aside from that, I pulled out some denim to (hopefully) make a pair of jeans that actually works, some corduroy for a jacket, the knit I had in mind for that Vogue pattern, and a couple of other pieces for some quicker projects when the mood strikes me. In looking through the fabrics, though, I realized that there's still quite a few pieces in there that I love the prints, but I've been kind of stumped on what to actually use them for. Since I like getting comments anyway (who doesnt?), I was thinking it might be fun to make this a little more interactive. So the picture up top is the first piece that's been sitting around for awhile that I'd like to actually turn into something. Here's the details:

It's a silky fabric, I'm pretty sure it's 100% polyester. 46" wide and I have 2 yards. It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but the background is a deep chocolate brown, and the purple has more of a red tone to it. The rest of the colors look to be pretty accurate. As you can see, it's a pretty big print, with the larger flowers being around 4". I've had this one around for probably about 5 years--didn't get it with anything particular in mind, I just liked the print and the colors.

So, what should I make out of this? I'll gladly take any and all suggestions, and hopefully have something to show later on in the season!

Signing off for now, and I may not be able to come back for a bit depending on the power situation--hope that all of the rest of you in the path of Irene stay safe!

August 25, 2011

Hey, I DO have the patience to make clothes out of string!!

Well, here we go...my first knitted piece of clothing! (If you don't count the hats.) I seamed it together and added the buttons this evening while waiting for students and watching the news reports of all of the hurricane fun that's headed my way.  While I'm hoping that the neckline will still straighten out a bit, I'm pleased with the results overall. And glad that I managed to finish it while it's still summer!

So now I need to figure out what to do with the 3/4 or so of a ball of this sparkly blue stuff that I have left. Maybe a pair of simple handwarmers, like these? Or these? Or perhaps a cowl of some sort, if I wanted to change up the look of this top and make it look more like a turtleneck? Not that I need to figure it out right away. I have other things I'd rather make first.

Jumping on the Sorbetto bandwagon

 Ok, so I didn't have time to finish up the knit tank yesterday. But I did have time to finish this. (Yes, Mary, you guessed right.)
So this is my test version of the Sorbetto that's been all over the sewing interwebs this summer. It was a fun little top to sew up--the instructions were good, and I can see how this would be simple enough that it's able to be very easily customized, like the seven-day challenge at The Sew Weekly did.

The thing is, I'm just not convinced that this pattern actually works on me....

It could be partially the fabric. If it looks familiar, that's because this used to be my Azalea top. It's been sitting deconstructed in my refashion bin, because it was just too poofy and I never wore it. And it was just the perfect size to fit the two pattern pieces on. But I'm thinking this silky poly stuff just isn't good for somewhat tailored elements-- see how that center pleat poofs out?

What's got me unconvinced on this one is both the length--a little short for me--and the overall fit. It's not the fit of the pattern itself, more the styling. The bust fits really well, but I always feel like tops that don't have any waist shaping make me look a lot bigger than I am. I did take this one in a smidge at the waist, but it still kind of makes me look box-shaped.

So then I tried tucking it in, since I get the impression that this was what the top was more meant for anyway, given Colette Patterns' somewhat more vintage stylings. It does work a little better this way (hey look, I have a waist again!), but I don't like how it's poofing out. Again, that might be the fabric.

Then I tried adding a belt, and so far this is how I like it the best. Though, given the length of the top, I think it would work much better with a thinner belt. And one that actually matches the colors of the top. I do still have a decent-sized piece of the grey fabric that I used for the binding left--I might have to pick up one of Sunni's belt-making kits.

I hope I can find a way to wear this well. I think this has the potential to look really cute paired with my Eva jacket, and I still love this print, so I'd hate for it to be a double fail in how I've used it! So what do you think?

August 24, 2011

(Almost) the end of my Odyssey

I have a back! (Hopefully the top won't ripple like that when it's all done.)


And after weaving in all of the loose ends, I revisited the front to add the neckline. My first time having to knit perpendicular off of something that I'd already knitted, so this is me picking up the stitches. (I had a good deal of help from YouTube.)

And the finished neckline, sans buttons. I'm a bit concerned about how it's curling in, though I followed the directions. It called for a needle two sizes smaller. And, well, I knit tightly. I'm trying to stretch it back out some, and hopefully seaming it together will help.


So, other than adding buttons, that is the last and final step--sewing the front and back together. Which I need to look up how to do that. But it can't be that hard, right? I mean, it's sewing. With yarn, but it's still sewing! And hey, this means my chances of finishing up before the Newbie and the Knitter sweater knitalong starts up are pretty good. So I'll be working on this some more today, since I'm off work except for a few flute lessons. If things go well, I may have something to show before the end of the week. If things go exceptionally well, I may have a sewing project too!

August 21, 2011

Two things:

1. These are the potholders I made to go along with Kristy's apron. Pretty easy, although the quilting made it a bit more time-consuming. I'm going to need to try to think of a better way to apply the bias binding next time I make something like this--the back side is a bit messier than I'd like, but I didn't have time to hand-sew it down.  She seemed to like them-- I think she was amused at how closely they match her current kitchen theme! (Which was the point, since she owns and he rents and so he'll be moving into her place after the wedding.)

2. I need a little advice....one of my friends asked me if I could hem her bridesmaid dress for the same wedding. She offered to pay me (and frankly, given how badly my day job hours have been cut back this summer, I need the money), and asked what I'd charge. I told her it would partially depend on how involved it would be--you know, lining, overlayers, that sort of thing--so I'd need to see it first. That aside....what would be a reasonable rate to charge for something like that? (You'd think that, given that I've been setting prices for my flute lessons ever since I finished college, I'd be better at this sort of thing....but I tend to err on the side of undercharging, I think.)

August 18, 2011

a few random thoughts

1. Vogue 1253 is officially in the fall queue. I have the right amount of what will be a great color for it in my stash (and even in a solid! Which is impressive for me, and I think this dress actually needs it to show the detail.) The pattern is purchased. As is the lining fabric and the "contrast", which is really basically just a built-in petticoat to give the skirt a bit more body. So, yes, I had to buy fabric, but it's to help me use up fabric, so it should all even out.

1a. Since it's fully lined, and the bodice is pretty structured, I wonder if I can manage to build a bra into this one? Maybe that's pushing it, since it's a knit...I'll have to think about it.

2. Still plodding along on the knit tank. Still hoping to get it done by Labor Day. I guess I just need to sit down with a movie or two and knock out as much as I can.

3. I think my dream of making myself a raincoat for the fall/winter may have to wait. You know how sometimes you get a specific idea or color in mind for a project, and nothing short of that idea will do? Well, I've had it stuck in my head ever since I started doing my idea sketches for the BurdaStyle book that I want a long brown raincoat. I'm just not sure I can afford it at this point, honestly. The only fabric I'd found was at Gorgeous Fabrics, and was $18 a yard. And with the pattern I was eyeing (a Burda mag one), I'd need almost 4 yards. Plus something to line it with. And something to underline it with, if I want to make it warm enough. Eek. (And go figure, the identical fabric in black and in navy was knocked down to a much more affordable sale price, but not the brown. And I don't want navy or especially black, since my regular winter peacoat is black.)  Thanks to some Google searching, I did find some fabrics here, and one of them is a solid brown. (In a much more affordable $10/yd.)

Still need to figure out the underlining issue, though. Why does all the warm stuff have to be wool?

3. I have a finished project. And a picture of it. But not for a post yet, since I'm not on my desktop and therefore haven't uploaded it yet. (I'm keeping pictures off the laptop for memory space reasons.)

4. Ok, ok, I'll admit it....Pinterest is pretty cool. And somewhat addicting. (And if any of you have one, let me know so I can follow people that actually post stuff, unlike all of my Facebook friends that got automatically added!)

5. And even though I'm sure the enthusiasm is waning as the season draws to a close, here's a hint about my current in-progress sewing project: it's been very, very popular this summer in the sewing blogosphere.

And with that, I just saw the time and I have to be at work extra-early tomorrow. Joy. So good night!

August 15, 2011

Layla, revisited

It seems to be becoming my standard thing for wedding showers to make an apron for the bride-to-be. Once again, I used the BurdaStyle Layla pattern, but with a few additional modifications from the last two versions. This one is for my friend Kristy, who is one of my oldest friends (we've known each other since, oh, kindergarten) and is getting married in October to a mutual college friend that she reconnected with last year. Since she's been living on her own for awhile, unlike the last two brides I made aprons for, there wasn't really a whole lot of stuff on her registry to pick from. So I made the apron to supplement something for the kitchen that I picked off of her registry.

This time, instead of hemming all of the edges, I wrapped them in bias binding. (In retrospect, I probably should have trimmed the seam allowances first to make this a bit smaller, since she is also more petite than I am. But hey, it'll definitely protect her clothes!) I also made two ties for the neck instead of one, so she could adjust it to her liking.

The third change I made was to make two pockets instead of the one central pocket. Also edged in bias binding.  I think it suits the print nicely! (Which I couldn't resist, because she has a cherry theme in her current kitchen. And since the colors she and her fiance were picking for the kitchen stuff are still kind of along those lines, I figured that this would go. And if she changes up the curtains and stuff, she still gets to keep a bit of her old kitchen theme.)

I still have a little less than a yard left of the cherry fabric, so if I have time this week, I'd like to make her some matching potholders or something. The shower's on Saturday, so I'm on a bit of a time crunch. We'll see how it goes.

I also got some knitting done over the weekend-- went back to my aunt's beach house for a night to hang out with my brother and sis-in-law for her birthday, and I brought my knitting with me. So I've got about 50 rows of mindless knit 2 purl 2 left before the back is done. I'm hoping I can knock that out pretty quickly! Especially since I already have my next big project lined up-- I'm joining in the Newbie and the Knitter knitalong that's starting up in September. I mean, what better way to figure out that sweater knitting thing than with other people, right? The planned project is the Cadence pullover from Knitty.com. I'm personally planning on lengthening the sleeves to full-length if I can, because I get cold so easily that 3/4 sleeved sweaters are kind of pointless for me. And I guess I got excited, because I ended up getting my yarn for it yesterday while I was at Joann's to get a better matching thread for the apron (and that Vogue pattern I wanted!)
It's a super-soft acrylic/alpaca blend in this "persimmon" color. I used to have a rather strong dislike for orange, mainly due to this nasty carpet from the 70s that was on my bedroom floor for the first several years of my life. It's grown on me in the last couple of years, though. And it's not quite as pumpkiny as it looks in this picture--it's a cooler orange, if that makes sense. Once I get to mid-January or February or so, I always start craving color in my wardrobe to offset the super-blah weather. And since I tend to go for sweaters more than anything when I'm cold, this seemed to be just the thing! Hopefully I've got enough yarn.... I bought out the entire pile that Joann's had, and if my estimate is right, I have more than the pattern calls for. But then, you see how well that went for my current knit!

August 11, 2011

A deceptively complicated refashion

Recently over at Refashion Co-Op, the editors decided it would be fun to occasionally have community challenges based on a certain theme. The first one is going on this week, and the theme is lace. Now, I've said it before, but I'll repeat myself: I'm generally not a lace girl. But I did have a top on hand that fit the bill that I've been meaning to work on anyway, so it was a good time to join in on the fun!

Here's the original top, as modeled by Donna. An all-over stretch lace, kind of peasanty top that I picked up at the thrift store one day. My thought was that it would make a nice layering top, being in a rather neutral color. But it had some issues.

Namely being that the thing was rather big on me. I'm wearing it over another top here, and the only thing keeping it from falling off of my shoulders is that I'm holding my arm up to do the mirror shot thing. Which made it annoying to wear even layered over a camisole, since the straps were always showing.

My original thought was to resize and fully line it, so I could eliminate the camisole altogether. Which made this a deceptively complicated thing to refashion, since I had to almost entirely deconstruct it first!  I basically just used the original pieces as a pattern and lined it with some jersey knit. (The leftover remnant pieces from this top, to be precise, though I used the wrong side for the coloring.)

I realized partway through that I had no idea how to reattach the peasanty sleeves for it to still work, so I ended up making this into a camisole. Adding the lining was probably a waste of time due to this, since in order for the bust seam to sit right, I'd have to wear another one underneath (it's loooooow by my standards!) Though it might be ok to wear it a bit higher under another shirt.

I do like how the straps turned out, though. I basically just took a scrap of the jersey and a scrap of the lace and sandwiched it around a piece of regular old elastic, then zig-zagged it while I stretched it.

Since I used one sleeve to make the straps, I had one sleeve left over. So I squared up the ends, serged it into a tube, and sewed the ends onto another piece of elastic...


...to make a headband! The fabric is stretchy enough that I think I'll be able to avoid my usual headband issue. (They tend to squeeze behind my ears and make me end up with a headache.) And it's a neutral enough color that I'll probably get some good use out of it!

So since I did all of this (minus the deconstructing) yesterday, I guess I can say that Wardrobe Refashion Wednesday is back!

On a few random notes:

  • It's good to see Project Runway back! Despite my annoyance last season at Gretchen winning, and my annoyance in the first episode for cutting one of the ladies whose style I liked so far in favor of the one who was putting everyone down right from the start, I've been enjoying it so far. (I'm not-so-secretly rooting for Anya, despite her lack of sewing experience, because I actually know someone who knows her! One of my friends from church grew up in Trinidad and went to school with her!)
  • I think I need this pattern. Seriously. This is the coolest knit dress pattern I've seen in awhile, and I have a piece of fabric in the stash that I think is the perfect amount to make it. Therefore, I need this pattern to bust my stash. So there.
  • Several of you probably know this already, but the BurdaStyle book release date is up! As is a picture of the cover on Amazon. (It's hard to tell from the size of the picture, even when enlarging....but I'm pretty sure the jacket third from the left in the bottom row is mine!) That reminds me, I really need to get my studio page over there updated...

August 9, 2011

Why did I wait? (Summer Essential #3)

Seriously-- I've been meaning to make this skirt for, oh, three years now. It kept getting put on the back burner in favor of things that seemed more crucial at the time. And then this took me all of one day, which was last Wednesday, to sew together in its entirety. Including taking the time to finish the seams on my serger and make it look all nice inside. (Just delayed on the posting due to a family beach trip.) Which leaves me wondering why on earth I waited so long...  So at least I got 3 of my 5 planned Summer Essential Sew-Along projects done. Though, with the colors of this one, I think this is actually going to be a skirt I can wear year-round. I just might need to come up with some more tops to go with it, since I don't have a lot in that red-orange family.

Hey, guess what? I'm going to do an actual pattern review! As always, any extra commentary from the official PR one in italics.

Pattern: #117 from the 3/07 Burda magazine


Pattern Rating: Highly recommend

Pattern Description: Mock wrap skirt with flounce.

Pattern Sizing:
Uhh.... I'll get back to you on this, since I'm in a bit of a rush and don't want to take the time to look it up atm.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? As easy as Burda gets... Seriously, though, this was really easy to put together.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the style, and the fit is great. The only thing I found confusing was their instructions for getting the mock wrap part onto the basic skirt. (So I ignored their instructions and winged it.)

Fabric Used: It's an embroidered linen-look twill-- I think it's at least part polyester, but it's been in my stash for awhile so I'm not sure what the actual content is at this point. (I think this one may have been one of my college-days acquisitions-- I know it's been sitting for at least 5 years!)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None-- this one fit perfectly right off the pattern! (As a lower-rise skirt, which I prefer anyway. I basted it together first to check--no muslin necessary! And no gapiosis!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don't know if I'd sew it with the flounce again, but I think I'll be going back to this pattern as a sloper. Even my self-drafted one (from the PR class I took awhile back) didn't fit this well!

Conclusion: Love, love, love it.


(Now I just need to figure out what to do with the slightly-less-than-a-yard I have left over...maybe a bag? It's something like a 33"x45" piece.)