November 30, 2011

Stashbusting update, and answering some comments

See this?

This, my friends, is almost 33 yards of fabric. Most of it was given to me for free-- people from my church have this habit of donating fabric to my mom, and then she passes on the stuff that wouldn't make good quilts to me. In fact, I think I only purchased two pieces of fabric in this pile.  One is a rather large remnant of leftovers from covering my ottoman, and I purchased some basketweave polyester stuff with the intention of making some throw pillows during the bedroom renovation, but ended up not doing that. And now I don't need to, because I have the much nicer silk velvet pillows instead. I realized that, realistically, I'm not going to use this fabric. I mean, why do I need 4+ yards of sweatshirt knit when I hardly ever wear sweatshirts (minus the occasional hoodie, and I'd rather sew those out of regular knits so they'd look nicer)? Or weird scratchy twills in ugly shades of brownish taupe that are good for nothing except a pants muslin (and possibly not even that)? So I'm going to post it on Freecycle, and hope that someone out there can find a good use for it. Except for that palm tree batik on top, because my mom has already claimed it. For all I know, it originally came from her own stash, anyway... I'm honestly not sure how it got there.

What this means for my stashbusting efforts is that I'm down to about 210 yards. I started off this year with about 275-- so, even though I've had to add a few things in for projects like the Anthropologie pants and the upcoming raincoat, that means I've gone down 65 yards in 11 months! (Granted, half of it is in that pile there, but still. A net of 32 yards in 11 months sewn up isn't too shabby either.) I've also managed to consolidate from 7 bins to 6 now. Almost 5. That last bin may fill up a bit more if I get any fabric for Christmas (a likely scenario), but that's still pretty good.

And none too soon on that empty bin.... I may have ordered a crapload of yarn to make that afghan I posted the other day. (I did go for that Red Heart Eco-cotton, in the Denim colorway. Not very tree-like, but I do like blue, and denim goes with almost everything, right? I wanted something that would be a versatile color long-term and still show all of the cable goodness. And I have to admit that the whole recycled fiber thing appealed to me.

And now, I wanted to go ahead and reply to a few of the comments from the last couple of posts, since I don't have the option to reply directly. (Oh Blogger powers-that-be, if you're listening, that would be a wonderful feature to add!)

Cheesepirate- Testing some things on cheap acrylic first is definitely the plan! I'm actually thinking of changing up the middle segment to this tree pattern-- that was my first thought when I saw it anyway, using a different tree pattern in the middle, and then I saw a gorgeous afghan on Ravelry where someone had done basically exactly that. I think this might actually make it easier, since that entire center portion is knit in the round and the sweater is just a rectangle that I don't have to remember to do 4 times. I just have to figure out the math on how to get a 130-ish row pattern to work when the center portion of the original ends up with something like 92 stitches per side. Ugh. Hopefully I can just do an extra border repeat or two and be done with it.

Alessa- I'd thought of the dyelot thing too, but it might be a moot point anyway....I had to get something like 28 skeins of the yarn, and I'm not sure they'd have that quantity in the same dyelot to begin with. Especially given the recycled nature of the fiber. So I figure if I get a few different ones, I'll just mix it up and chalk it up to "natural variations." Plus then I get extra insurance if I underestimated how much yarn I'd need. At least the yarn was pretty inexpensive. Also, good luck on finding the Bemberg! It really is yummy. I'm surprised Joann's had it, to be honest. They tend to favor polyester in a big way for apparel fabric.

Karin- it's actually more of a forest/hunter green. Though emerald would be gorgeous too, wouldn't it?

Christina- I'm going to have to go with my standard Mary-Jane black heels. (Which I just realized I never actually posted the shoe clips I made for them on here-- I forgot after posting them on Refashion Co-Op.) Given my big, extra-wide feet, vintage shoes are definitely not an option! But I think these will be ok.

Mary & Gail- thanks for the lovely comments! And Gail, I think you'll enjoy the book. After sewing this up, I think all of the Colette love around the sewing blogosphere is fully justified. Even the fitting alterations were made easy!

November 29, 2011

The Licorice dress!

A little later than I wanted to post it....but I got the belt kit in earlier this week, and since my retail job is currently so slow that I got sent home early, I made that this afternoon. So now I can post the whole thing at once.

The dress came together really quickly. I altered the pattern and cut it out on Wednesday, and basically sewed it together over the course of the next three days between bouts of having to work and family gatherings. By mid-afternoon on Saturday, all I had left to do was the outer hem (which I decided to handsew since it would look nicer) and adding that hook and eye that I always procrastinate on, so I took some time off for knitting instead. (Well, that and Thanksgiving Dinner #2 with my mom's family.) And this was even with me adding some extra steps, like making sure that I finished all of the seams and underlining the sleeves. So I did the hem on Sunday, and as already stated, I just finished the belt. I wasn't sure how it would work with the satin, because it seemed to be a bit heavier than what the Colette book recommended, but I think it turned out well!

A few details....
Here's a closeup of the neckline and collar. Since I'm generally not a solids girl (if you've been reading this for any length of time, you probably figured that out on your own!) I'm really glad it has the contrast of texture to break up the monochromaticism.

Incidentally, I wish I'd had this pattern a few years ago when I was making that horrible dress to wear to my brother's wedding. Because if you take the collar and sleeves off, this is essentially the dress I was trying to make! And this one was soooooooo much easier to fit!

Since the lining was the one thing I had to buy, and I knew I wanted to use the nicer Bemberg rayon lining so I could also underline the sleeves to soften them up, I had to improvise a bit. Joann's didn't have anything remotely close to the green, so I went with the ivory and added the lace at the bottom to make it look kind of like a slip. I also used the lace hem tape on this, so I could avoid folding the satin over for the hem and having the extra bulk showing outside when I pressed it. I may have to spring for the nice lining every time I make a dress now--I definitely saw a difference between this and the polyester stuff!

And here's this afternoon's work. I'm glad this is a purely decorative and not so much a functional belt. Though the instructions on the package were very clear, my execution wasn't so great. It probably doesn't help that the brocade has a tendency to fray like crazy. And I didn't have quite the right tools to set the eyelets, so I winged it as best as I could with what I have, and I just hope the eyelets stay in and don't snag on the dress. I am proud of how I lined the brocade pattern up on the belt, though. And I'm also glad I had the opportunity to practice this before I attempt the one I want to make for the raincoat that will be coming up.

I'll see what I can do about getting an action shot at the party--it'll be more effective that way anyway. Hopefully I can figure out how to get my late 60s-70s-esque straight, long hair into something more late 50s-early 60s style! This pretty much confirms to me that the Colette Handbook was a good buy. To be honest, this was the style I figured I'd be least likely to sew when I got it. Oh, the irony.

And on a completely different note, here's the progress on my Cadence sweater. The sleeves are separated now, I've knit a few rows down from that, and it's actually starting to look like something resembling a garment!

November 27, 2011

I must be nuts.

Because I stumbled across this recently, and I really, really want to make it. It's easily the coolest afghan I've ever seen in my entire life.

This is the Yggdrasil Afghan, which is a shockingly free pattern from Knitting Daily. If those Celtic knot and leafy borders weren't amazing enough, look at the center...

I mean, seriously! How cool is that? I like this one even better than the tree of life afghan I've been obsessing over since I first discovered Ravelry. So much so that I actually spent a rather significant chunk of the evening trying to figure out good options for a yarn which would allow me to make this in an affordable fashion, preferably without having to resort to those huge balls of super-cheap acrylic. (So far, the front-runner is this.) Surprisingly, I can actually use the called-for yarn, which is the same stuff I used for that wrap I made over the summer. But in order to make the size I want (which of course is the biggest one so I can have as much epic Celtic knotting as possible), I'd have to buy nearly $300 worth of yarn! I've never even spent close to that much on fabric for formalwear! Or pretty much all of the fabric I bought for my last bedroom makeover, including the curtains and the quilt!

But, of course, this is labeled specifically as a difficult pattern. I've only been knitting for 11 months now. And I've done maybe two projects involving cable needles so far, and they were both something like 1-2 stitch cables. Plus the finished product is huge. So this thing would probably take me at least 5 years to finish, especially since I'd most certainly be working on other projects in the meantime on both the knitting and the sewing fronts. That, and I have to learn how to do at least half of the various techniques involved. So am I completely insane for even considering this?

The good news is, I've finally managed to get my Cadence sweater to the point where the sleeves are separated off and I'm actually working on the body by itself. So progress! Also, I finished my dress for the Mad Men party about 45 minutes ago, save the belt (for which the kit has not yet arrived) and pressing the hem. I'll take some pictures of both of those things tomorrow when I have a better shot at decent lighting.

On a random note, have any of you other Blogger users been having trouble with the front page of your blog? For the last couple of weeks, I've only been able to see the most recent post, and have to click on the "Older Posts" to see anything further. Other than sidebar-type stuff, which is still working fine. I know it's not my settings, because I've checked that and I should be able to see at least 5 posts here...odd. (Edit: And of course as soon as I post this, I can see the first two most recent posts...)

November 19, 2011

Derailing the plan

So apparently I'm going back to work next week, which is a week earlier than I was told. I guess that's a good thing....I'd be more enthusiastic if I didn't spend hours at a time scrounging for things to do every time I'm there. So that's going to leave me with a lot less time to do the things I'd planned to do, like mending.  But I did get several more things done over the last couple of days, which I'll get back to in a bit.

The main derailment of the plan, though, comes courtesy of one of my friends-- I was helping her reconstruct a dress for a holiday party yesterday (pics may come later if she allows it, once she finishes it), and while she was at it, she invited me to the birthday party she's going to be throwing for her boyfriend in a few weeks. It's a Mad Men-themed party, so the dress is basically early 60s cocktail. I don't know about you, but since I don't really spend a lot of time with vintage fashion like a lot of other sewing blogs I read, I don't really have anything suitable just lying around, you know? (Besides, when I go 60s, it's usually more the boho-hippie end of things!) I'd never actually watched an episode of Mad Men until last night, since she and I put it on Netflix while we worked, but I'm always up for a costume party! I want something I can wear again, though...

So, since I'm on limited time, I'm going to go with a pattern I already have on hand: the Licorice dress from the new Colette book.
(Picture from the Coletterie)

I figured it has sort of the look, and it has sleeves, which is definitely a bonus for December. I just hope it turns out ok, because my fabric's not ideal according to the recommendations. I have about 3 yards of that Casa satin stuff that anyone who's ever browsed the fancy fabric section of Joann's should be familiar with, in a forest green. It's leftovers from the dress I sewed for my masters' degree recital, because apparently I severely overestimated how much fabric I'd need for the very full skirt. I also have about a yard of this pretty green brocade that I made the top out of. I can't seem to find a picture of me actually wearing it on my computer--I guess this was when I was transitioning from my old film camera to my digital--so I just threw the dress on Donna:

Man, I hope I still have those recital pics around somewhere. Anyway.

What I'm thinking is to use the satin for the bulk of the dress, and then the brocade for the neckline bit and tie/belt/whatever. (I'm strongly tempted to get one of those belt kits from A Fashionable Stitch for this one! Even though I haven't used the first one I got from her yet, because I haven't gotten to the raincoat.) But I am concerned that the satin is a little heavier-weight than it sounds like it should be. So I ran out to Joann's this morning to see what I could find. Basically what it came down to is that all of the prints I liked were too late 60s or modern, all of the ones that looked like it might fit the look of the floral-print dresses I saw in the show were kind of ugly, and the one print I did like that would fit the look was basically a black polka dot on ivory. But it was a taffeta-type fabric, which is even stiffer than this satin. And if I was going to have to go for a solid color, I figured I might as well bust the stash I have. So instead of buying new fabric, I sprang for the nice Bemberg rayon lining and got a little extra, thinking that the dress itself appears to be structured enough that the satin will probably work, and if I underline the sleeves with the Bemberg too, it might soften them up a bit. Here's hoping it works.

Also, I do have a couple of mending updates that are actually worth showing, since they're more along the lines of refashionings:

I have this jacket that I picked up from the thrift store earlier this year, because it fits me almost perfectly and I love the color and pleat details. One of the buttons on the sleeve was actually broken though--basically, there was about a quarter of it left. I hid it by leaving it unbuttoned for several months, but finally went ahead and just replaced the buttons. There wasn't a spare, so I had to replace them all, and since Joann's didn't have a large enough quantity of any button remotely close to the right size, I had to make my own.

So here it is with its new fabric-covered buttons....

....which are more fun than those brown ones anyway.

I also had this long, never-been-worn, tags-still-on-it denim skirt that a friend passed along to me because it ended up not fitting her.

(Check out the detailing in the back!)

This is the after-- I didn't get a pic of it before, but it ended up being too big on me. So basically, I just took in the sides a nice chunk and re-did the topstitching.

(Took it in that much, to be exact.) So it fits much better now, and I'm excited to actually be able to wear it!

Now, off to trace a pattern....