Monday, January 31, 2011

Gift Box

I was amazed the other day when a kindly reader, Connie, sent me her fabric stash, as she isn't planning to sew much anymore. There are some fancy pink costume fabrics, eyelet, ribbing, jersey, crepe, twill, wool, and brown corduroy. I already have some ideas for how to use them and my 8 year old thinks I'm going to make him red plaid cape.




There was also an assortment of lace trims and vintage "snappers".


These are all really nice fabrics and I know I'll enjoy using them.
Thanks so much, Connie!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

80's Flower Power

Lately, I've been focusing on using up some of those old stash pieces which I'm never drawn to (or flat out ignore) whenever I open my fabric cupboard. The blue floral cotton lycra was one of those pieces, and you'll be seeing more of it down the road, since I used less than half on this top.

I wish I hadn't cut out a solid white version of this top at the same time I cut out the floral, since it turned out unexpectedly low in the neckline and short and wide in general. I'll have to make adjustments to my already cut pieces and probably make it for little sister instead. The neckline of the top is gathered; the lower sleeve panels are gathered and stitched to the upper sleeve panels; and the sleeves are gathered with elastic. The whole top has an A-line tent shape.

To complete the outfit, we have one of my favorite Ottobre patterns: the Neat Beat pants. I've made these a number of times, and always add a wedge to the back crotch since they are too low otherwise. I added some handstitching on the front yoke; Sara, the consummate "plain Jane", insisted I leave off my other embroidery ideas and just give her the pants already.



Sources:
Top: Silja Sweater Top (Ottobre 4-2008-22)
Pants: Neat Beat Pants (Ottobre 6-2009-17)
Floral cotton/lycra jersey: long-forgotten, possibly fabric.com
Stretch corduroy: Mill End Textiles


Friday, January 21, 2011

Gimme a Bone

Better yet, give me a thousand bones on a romper. This romper has a front and back and a bunch of elastic: at the ankles, back waist, straps, and front. Interestingly, there are two pieces of 1/4" elastic at the front, each in its own channel.

Despite being cranky and requiring a morning nap (don't we all sometimes?) Molly obliged me and stood at the wall to model her new suit. She's seen her siblings do it many times. This is where having older children really comes in handy - the little ones do whatever the big ones do.

I made this a little big, so it'll be good for spring and summer too. The fabric is an old quilting cotton I must have purchased for no other reason than that it was cute. I wonder what I thought I'd make with it.


Here she is with her ever-present pillow. She couldn't choose a small blanket or stuffed dog to love. No, she must lug the giant pillow around with her.



The romper pattern is from the Japanese pattern magazine Pochee (I think it's pronounced Po-shay). There are 45 full-scale clothing patterns to trace as well as instructions for making some bags, a scarf, and a poncho.
Most of the patterns are women's patterns in standardized Japanese sizes M and L:
M: Height 160 cm; Bust 83 cm; Waist 64 cm; Hip 90 cm
L: Height 160 cm; Bust 88 cm; Waist 70 cm; Hip 96 cm
There are also two collections of children's clothes, one for sizes (in cm tall) 80-90-100; and one for sizes 110-120-130. I couldn't find any other measurements for the kids' patterns other than height.
The magazine is written in Japanese, obviously. But the instructions are illustrated with such intricately detailed drawings which are numbered step-by-step that (assuming basic sewing skills) they beat any other pattern instructions I've seen.















































Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Sweatsuit and Walking on Water

Last spring, armed with a coupon at my local fabric shop, I carried the bolt of navy blue sweatshirting to the cutting table. [Cue troop of small children plodding behind me.] How many yards do I want? Hmmm...60% off brings it to $1.60 a yard. If I buy ten yards, I can outfit my whole family for $16!

It was a very appealing idea to the economical bone in my body. But, let me tell you, 10 yards of sweatshirt fleece takes up a lot of space on my fabric shelf. Well, now it's only 7 yards, as I used 3 for a sweatsuit for my oldest. I don't think I have enough for the whole family after all.

The sweatshirt was actually a lot easier to make than I expected. It's a t-shirt with a zipper down the front, a hood, and pockets.


It's a little big still, but I think it turned out looking rather like a conventional hooded sweatshirt: not interesting, but normal.



I'm not so pleased with the sweatpants, though. Peter finds them very comfortable, but I can't say they look too great. Clear elastic is stitched to the inside of the waistband at the top. Mine didn't gather too evenly as you can tell. And the waistband ribbing is rippling where it joins the pants fabric. I think a wide, standard elastic would have been much better.


I also dislike the bulky pockets. The 3 layers of sweatshirt fleece poufing about remind me of the bulky-pocketed knit pants that were so common here in the 90's. I can think of other pocket methods that would look smoother:
1. a patch pocket angled at the side seam
2. making the pocket facing out of a thinner fabric
3. stitching the pocket piece directly to the pants front and eliminating the third layer of the pocket lining

I'm not a fan of the pockets or waistband, but the pants are comfortable and will be fine for lounging.
Sweatshirt: Ottobre 1-2008-33 (Hopper Hooded Sweatshirt)
Pants: Ottobre 1-2008-34 (Flipper Sweatpants)
Sweatshirt Fleece: Mill End Textiles



On the non-sewing front [what! there's something besides sewing?]... We decided to take a trek out on our frozen lake. Some of our neighbors were out drilling holes in the ice with an auger. One of their kids was sitting on an upturned bucket with his pole in the water. He had a hard time getting his minnow down through the ice, which was about 2 feet thick.


We also saw a few people snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, and trudging (that was us).


Below, you can see the line of icehouses on the far side of the lake. Those are for people who take ice fishing seriously.












Saturday, January 15, 2011

Speaking of Bandwagons....

Here's another popular pattern...the turtleneck from the September issue of Burda Style. I let my subscription expire in August, which was a decision spurred partly by annoyance at Burda's suddenly squishing too many patterns on a page, partly by the discovery that my library has a subscription, and partly by the acknowledgement that I really do have a lot of patterns already. So I had to wait for 11 people before me to get their turtlenecks traced before I got the magazine in hand.

I rejected the turtleneck as a concept when I was still a wee lass because there's nothing pleasant about wearing a tourniquet about the neck. But I gave the turtleneck another chance and this pattern is a winner because the neck is plenty roomy and, in a light jersey, unbulky.

This is the first pattern I've done a square shoulder adjustment on - that added to a forward shoulder/arm joint alteration. The top is too loose and stretchy to make a good critique of the new method, but I don't see any drag lines anyway.
Pattern: Burdastyle 9-2010-121.
Fabric: Cotton jersey with a little stretch from Mill End Textiles.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Bandwagon Jeans

In was the year 2008 in the month of May that I purchased my last article of clothing - these jeans. I'd been searching for more than a year, wearing holes in the last denim in my wardrobe, when I finally found the near-impossible combination on clearance at Ann Taylor: decent fit and style for $20. The story has a sad ending, though. I hadn't put the new denim through the wash too many times when I noticed it'd be good to avoid wearing them in public due to an impending wardrobe malfunction:

This is what happens when you stitch bulky pockets to a thin fabric without stabilizing.

But wait! The story is not sad after all becauase I can make my own jeans. Enter: the fantastically popular Jalie jeans pattern #2908. I usually run from the ultra popular as if from the plague, but I don't regret jumping on the bandwagon this time.

The pattern is for slim fitting stretch jeans with bootcut legs. It comes in a low-rise and a mid-rise version. I made the low-rise version without any changes.


With heels, I could use some more length, but other than that I'm extremely pleased (and a little surprised) at how they turned out. With the stretch in the denim, they're super comfortable. Next time I make these, I'll make three changes:
1. deepen the front pockets
2. add length
3. try the mid-rise version, as these are too low when I sit on the floor (which I do a lot)



I've seen a number of people mention that they drew their pocket design on water soluble stabilizer. I didn't have any of that, but tried just tracing my design on two pieces of my tracing paper (which is medical exam table paper)...



pinning the paper to the pockets and stitching.





The paper tears off pretty easily without the need for water.


Pattern: Jalie 2908.
Fabric: stretch denim from Fabric.com (I can't remember the stretch %).








Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cowl, version 2

Here's the new and improved cowl neck. You can see version 1 here. I made a few minor changes in this version: lengthened and slimmed the sleeves and increased the size of the front and back neck facing. Also, this time I cut the front on the straight grain rather than the bias. To be honest, I can't tell a real difference in drape either way, but the bias cut front of the previous version has an interesting look to it.

I like this warm colorful version better; I think the charcoal grey is too much contrast against the "pale background" (:
Fabric: red/orange cotton jersey from Mill End Textiles (local).
Pattern: drafted from my basic t-shirt block with alteration to the neckline.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cozy Woodsman

We have a chilly house situated in the near-tundra. Actually, Wikipedia calls it the "Humid Continental (cool summer) Climate Zone". Anyway, sometime last winter, my husband mentioned he could really use a vest just to take the edge off the chill. So, this was another last-minute sneaky Christmas project. Now, my husband takes a polite interest in my sewing projects, but luckily he wasn't curious about the frayed fleece scraps littering the floor.


I used a very basic fleece jacket pattern but left off the sleeves and bound the armholes. I also added side seam pockets. The vest is soft and warm and apparently serving its purpose well since my husband has worn it every day since he opened his gift.

If I pan out, you can see we are never wanting for company in our house! You can also see by the missing baseboard that we are never wanting for house projects, either...

Pattern: BurdaStyle 1-2010-126.
Berber Fleece: Mill End Textiles. 1.5 yards at about $2.80 a yard.
2 way jacket zipper: Cleaner's Supply.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Woodsman Plaid

I found this plaid flannel at my local shop a week or so before Christmas and had the great idea to make my husband a shirt. I didn't remember, of course, that he had the week before Christmas off work. It was a little entertaining trying to pretend I was sewing boys' pajamas the whole week.

This is your basic men's shirt with yoke, collar stand, collar, and sleeve plackets. I used the size I had sewn for him from BurdaStyle before and, what do you know? It fits straight out of the box. Bah.
I think I might make the pocket just a little wider. And the under part of the sleeve placket is a narrow strip sewn to the edge. In the future, I may copy the standard placket template out of David Coffin's shirtmaking book. Other than that, I don't feel the need to search around for another shirt pattern. Excellent.
I'm pleased because it fits and I made some successful plackets. He's pleased because he discovered a hole in his favorite red plaid flannel shirt.
Pattern: BurdaStyle magazine 4-2010-128.
Fabric: Plaid 60" wide flannel, 2 yards at $1.99 a yard = a $4 shirt.
Buttons from Cleaner's Supply.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Contact Me?

Connie asked me for my contact information.

I've updated my profile, so you can find my email by clicking at the top left of the screen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pie Charts, Sewing Patterns, Personality and Q&A

Your comments and questions on my stats post stirred up some musings in my brain. Why do we do the things we do? Don't worry, I won't get too philosophical here since other activities are vying for my time (lunch, laundry, children, and hemming the jeans I just made).

Karen asked if making charts helped me plan and if I planned my projects far in advance. The charts you saw in the statistics post were drawn from a database where I've entered what I've sewn and all sorts of information about each item. If I'm very honest, I would have to say that I do this mostly because I'm compelled to. I LIKE databases. If my hobby were different, I'm sure I'd have a database for that. Come to think of it, I have spreadsheets of books read, birds spotted, miles biked, kid's measurements, and things I plan to buy (like sewing notions, gifts and schoolbooks).
Do I plan my sewing projects far ahead? I keep a list for each person in my family: what they need and what I want to make for them. That helps mainly with shopping (keeping my eye out for fabric and notions for all those planned projects while I'm shopping for one item) and with helping move on to the next thing without wasting time in indecision.

Other than that, planning too far in advance feels awfully restrictive. I really admire those who can plan a 12 piece matching wardrobe and actually pull it off. I've really been inspired lately by Shannon's method of creating outfits. Yes, many of the pieces will work with other wardrobe items, but bending my mind around just 2 things at a time is very doable for this poor frazzled brain!



A number of you commented on the fact that I didn't sew ANY big 4/big 3 patterns! I really started sewing apparel with Burda Magazine and Ottobre and I have not been disappointed. I've sewn 2 or 3 Simplicity and McCall's patterns, but those little tissue paper stuffed envelopes just don't reach out and grab me the way the pattern magazines do. This coming year I hope to make a few things from my very small collection of Japanese pattern magazines.



And then, of course, there's the option of drafting it myself. Ideally, I can make anything I want. Patterns give you the benefit of not having to reinvent the wheel; pattern drafting gives you total freedom (which is, um, very dependent upon your skills and sense of style, of course).


I'm very interested in YOUR organization and pattern preferences. It's my theory that, although all sorts of folks love to sew, personality differences give us a huge variety in methods.




Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ruffly Shawl

This one got two thumbs down from my husband, so I thought I'd submit it to the virtual public for opinions. It may be that the bright blue is wrong for me, or that I don't appear in ruffles very often, but I didn't this scarf was TOO far out there!

I used a cotton lycra jersey from my local Mill End Textiles. The long straight edge is stabilized with clear elastic and the ruffle is gathered with clear elastic before being stitched to the curved edge. That amounts to about a mile and a half of clear elastic. I serged a rolled hem on the outside edge of the ruffle.

I found a clear and sunny (albeit boring) space of wall for winter pictures. The downside is that I'll have to move my electric piano whenever I want to use it.


Pattern: Ingrid Flounce Scarf (Ottobre 5-2009-16).
The question is, should I:
a. wear this confidently in public as an accessory
b. wear this as a scarf only under a coat
c. wear this around home in my pajamas
d. add it to my ever-growing pile of fabric to be used for underwear
e. donate it to Goodwill to benefit next year's tax return