Friday, March 30, 2012

Basics vs. Fun Items

Vacation is looming, so I really need to get cracking on some stitching. Otherwise I'll need to search the stores at the last minute for exactly what I want at just the right price, which gets harder to do the longer I sew.

So, I made a list of the absolute essentials and am relieved it's not long. The boys thought they had nothing to wear, but when I organized their drawers and helped them recover garments that had been stashed in odd places, it was revealed they have plenty of clothes to get them through a road trip.

All the kids need summer pjs; the girls need swimsuits, and girl #2 needed t-shirts. Now I can check the t-shirts off the list.

I'm always torn between sewing fun and interesting things and sewing basics. I like to make the basics, such as t-shirts and pjs. They cost me less. They save me the shopping effort. They fit better. The kids can get exactly what they want. And then there's the satisfaction of seeing the kids wear what I make everyday because, after all, they're basics.

But, as with housework, there's never a point where you're finished. You just have to decide to leave it for a while and do something different, or you never will.

Grace needed t-shirts and had a strong interest in a certain ruffly sleeve style. Ah, I have just the pattern! So she went shopping digging in my stash for fabric (and I added a solid white for good measure).
I really like this sleeve. It's hemmed, then shirred with elastic thread. The sleeve cap is gathered, too. So it's a little more time-consuming than a regular t-shirt. But oh-so-much-more-interesting, too.

Random knits. Some from Hobby Lobby and possibly Chez Ami.
Rosalind T-shirt (Ottobre 3-2009-29).

Also shown:
Jersey Shorts (Ottobre 3-2010-10).
Neat Beat Pants (Ottobre 6-2009-17).

In the pipeline: tweaks of my t-shirt slopers, swimsuits for the girls, summer pjs....and then something fun, probably summer dresses.

This week I've been trialing an Ottobre camisole and undies pattern for a swimsuit for myself. We'll see if that pans out. It looks promising.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Awards, Cheese, and Unusual Birds

I'm overdue in thanking my kindly fellow bloggers for the bloggy awards they've sent my way.

I've been rambling on my sewing blog for three years now and am very grateful for all of you, my readers. I appreciate the virtual interaction with my fellow sewists (via blogs, flickr, and patternreview, and email) more than I ever dreamed I would.

And now for the awards:

The Versatile Blogger award is from Elizabeth, the musician-sewist of ~E Made This. Check out her amazing jeans with buttoned leg vents.

The Liebster Blog award is from Molly, the funny engineer sewist of Toferet's Empty Bobbin. She's sewing her own wedding dress. Eek!

And three people have passed on the Sunshine Award:

Becky, another musician-sewist, of Sew and So. She loves to knit, do refashions, and make Anthropologie knock-offs (custom-made and at a lower price point, to boot).

Sandi, the insanely-prolific sewist, of Sew Much, So Stylin', So Fast, also teaches school, and is uber-organized (at least when it comes to fabric!).


The philosophical Urban Rustic of The Makings of the Urban Rustic. We share a love of 70s fashion, but she manages to sew her 70s patterns instead of just drooling over them (:

Instead of trying to follow the rules of three different bloggy awards, I will give you two 21 wale factoids - and you can participate, too!

Question #1. What's my favorite cheese?

My long-time answer has been smoked gouda, but the recent appearance of chipotle cheddar at our local Target has made me waver a bit in my commitment.

The phrase "Limited Time Only" makes me nervous. It would be a travesty if they stopped making it.

This past summer we visited Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, the only Gouda cheese maker in Canada. The owners are transplants from Holland, so we can be sure the gouda is genuine. They had umpteen varieties of cheese, all of them gouda. Yum!

The truth is, I'm a cheese fanatic.

When my husband and I visited relatives in Norway, we had ample opportunity to eat gjetost, for breakfast. My husband's second cousin and his wife kept a "breakfast tray" on a shelf in the refrigerator. It had an assortment of things like cheese, crackers, meats and maybe lingonberry jam - I don't remember exactly. Every morning, they just pulled out that tray and breakfast was ready. I couldn't exactly say I loved gjetost. It's something you'd have to get used to.

Question #2: What interesting bird have you seen lately?

Several times a week, I submit lists of birds I spot to ebird. The site organizes the lists and keeps track of how many birds I've seen where and when. So it's easy to see that I've seen 69 different species in my backyard alone.

Anyway, my new favorite is the curious Hooded Merganser. Isn't it great? I've seen this one in a couple of the nearby lakes but, no, not in my backyard.

photo from All About Birds

And here's your chance to participate.

1. What's your favorite cheese?

2. What interesting birds have you seen lately?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Victory Patterns Lola Dress

With tights and boots.

What's a cross between a sweatsuit and a ball gown? I think the answer is the Lola Dress from Victory Patterns. I'm more likely to be seen in a sweatshirt than a gown, so a sweatshirt dress is right up my alley.

With sandals.

The basic shape is a princess-seamed raglan-sleeved shift, but the piecing (and the pockets of course!) add all the interest. That said, if you left off the pockets and piecing, you'd have a nice knit dress with princess seams. It was my husband's thought that it would look good without the pockets. Apparently, he doesn't understand the appeal of pockets in a dress.

I made no alterations except for square shoulders. I tried, but couldn't get away without that adjustment. I should have known better and done sleeve muslins from the outset. But it worked out after a few tries and a lot of seam ripping. I'll do a tutorial for square shoulder alteration in a raglan sleeve in a future post.

If I remember right, the pattern says it's drafted for heights 5'6"-5'9". I'm 5'5" (well, almost) and with the original hem band I had, I found it a little short for my sitting-bending-kneeling preferences, especially since the band made the dress narrower at the bottom. I removed the band, made it wider and deeper. The hem's not as proportional now, of course, but it's a decent save, I think.

I used a sturdy interlock instead of the sweatshirt fleece called for and the hems are self-fabric. I didn't try very hard to find matching ribbing! Using self-fabric means you can pick any fabric you want. You just have to adjust the bandwidth (new use of that word!?) according to the stretchiness of the fabric.

With jeggings and clogs.

Verdict? I love it; it's super comfortable, and the other day I almost bought some fabric for another version, but resisted. Maybe I'll go back and buy it (: Do you ever regret fabric-self-control?

Which styling do you like best? Any other suggestions?

Interlock knit: Chez Ami.
Lola Dress from Victory Patterns

Monday, March 19, 2012

Young Image Magazine Boys' Shorts

I'm not sure what to call these. Bermudas? Shorts? Cropped trousers? (We'll try not to use the word "capris"). My husband thinks the style is "European", while his personal style is more "American midwest". Whatever the case, Alex says he loves them and proved it by wearing them out in public. He wants me to make more pairs, too.

I actually shortened these a bit from the intended length, so I had to hem them right through the pocket-shaped patch. So if I'd lengthened them a little, they'd have been regular trousers.

For the fabric, I used the scraps leftover from hemming my linen Ikea curtains. I had two 3/4 yard pieces from the two panels I hemmed.

The front has the pocket-shaped patches and some sort of faux double pocket thing going on. The back panels are pieced, plus there's the yoke. Lots of details, as you can see from the line drawing below.

The fit is quite a bit slimmer than Ottobre, making them similar to Burda magazine's kid patterns. I didn't slim this pattern as I would have to for Otto, and the fit is really good with the addition of some elastic at the back waist. Interestingly, Young Image's patterns have 12 cm difference between sizes as opposed to the 6 cm difference for Burda and Ottobre.

How are the instructions? I thought the instructions were fine for the My Image dress I made, but I got lost fairly quickly with these and gave up. Another similarity to Burda, I guess (:

Textured linen: Ikea curtain scraps

Here a link to the line drawings of the garments in this issue.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tutorial: How to Stitch Elastic in the Round Without Quarter Pinning

I made a new suit to celebrate warmer weather! Actually, I decided to work on the stash of cut-out garments I didn't manage to finish last summer.... But it feels like a celebration anyway!

The pattern for this suit (Ottobre 3-2011-30) gives a measurement for the entire length of elastic needed for neckhole, armholes, and leg openings, but doesn't separate those lengths. So I had to guesstimate. The armholes were too tight on daughter #1, so daughter #2 (who you might say was feeling a little green) gets it instead.

Now about that quarter pinning. As soon as I learned the technique and the term for it, I knew I wanted to find an easy road instead. Do I like continuously stabbing myself with pins while I sew elastic around a circle? No, I don't. If I ever try acupuncture, I'll go to a professional.

Maybe all you real sewists out there have already figured this out. But here's my method, if you're curious.

How to Sew Elastic in the Round Without Quarter Pinning (or Even Marking):

(Before you start, put away your pincushion.)

Step 1: Determine the length of elastic you need and stitch it into a circle.

Step 2: Align the seam in the elastic with a convenient point on the garment, such as a seam.

Step 3: Zigzag the two points together for a little ways. Backstitch, too.
Here I'm zigzagging my elastic to the inside of the swimsuit leg opening. Where you put the elastic may differ depending on your elastic-application preferences.

Step 4: With the needle down, to hold the fabric, grab both the elastic and the garment and stretch them so the elastic is taut.

Step 5: With your other hand, pinch a point midway between your hand and the needle. This is the first portion you will stitch.

Step 6: Keep pinching the midway point. With your other hand, grab the fabric behind the needle and stretch.

Step 7: Zigzag up to your fingers.

Step 8: With the needle down, stretch the remaining fabric and elastic again until taut, grab a midpoint and stitch up to it. Repeat until you've finished the circle.

Here's the leg opening I stitched. After stitching the elastic to the leg opening, I turned the elastic under and stitched again, enclosing the elastic.

No doubt, if you try this method it will be neater the 100th time you do it than the 1st time you do it. It takes a little practice, but your fingers will thank you for it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Stripey Polo

Look! Our snow cover is almost gone. The rain today has almost taken care of it. (This is very unusual for March, but I'm ready for spring, anyway.)

My poor husband gets the smallest percentage of hand sewn goodness around here. That probably won't change much, hehe, unless he decides to do some stitching himself, but here's one contribution to his closet: a stripey polo shirt.

In a fit of insanity, I thought I should place the stripes running straight through the placket and the pocket. And the sleeves, too. The stripes look like they sort of match at the sleeves with the arms down, but they don't really. The truth is, in most shirts it's not even possible; in this one, the shoulder seam is forward and there's a yoke, which threw off my stripe matching efforts in the back somewhat.

Isn't it interesting there's a yoke in a knit shirt? Maybe I've been seeing them all the time and haven't noticed?

My husband likes his shirts roomier than Jalie's fit - I've found this to be true in other Jalie items I've made for him (per his measurements), so next time I'll probably add a little at the sides seams instead of going up a size, since the shoulder fit looks good.

As always, I like Jalie instructions. They have you sew guidelines and press folds here and there which were helpful in both the placket and the collar. Getting a neat collar in a knit (this is a pique knit) was tougher even than getting a neat placket. Although I liked Jalie's interesting collar construction, it was different from my usual. I do prefer doing the final stitching of the stand from the outside instead, so at the least the stitching on the outside is perfect, however the inside looks.

Conclusion? A winner pattern. Because the placket is more time consuming than, um, a neckband, I'm sure I'll make more crew and v-necks for the household men, but this pattern will get good use in years to come as well.

Pique knit:
Men's Polo: Jalie 3137

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Last of the Birthday Outfits...for a While

My littlest turned three. I wonder if she's caught on to the fact that everyone's been getting "age shirts". She seemed pleased but not surprised when she opened up the package to see her new outfit.

She refuses to wear anything but "cozy" pants, so leggings are in order instead of jeans. The commitment for those is 20 min. vs. 4+ hours, ha! I've never actually timed a pair of jeans since I certainly never make them in one sitting. I should do that (time them, I mean, not make them in one sitting).

The "3" is from the font "shagadelic", which my husband downloaded from somewhere. I never use it in documents, just on t-shirts.

The knits are Chez Ami: the polka dot is cotton jersey and the check is interlock. It amazes me the differences between fabrics labeled "interlock". Chez Ami's interlocks are thick and stable. But I'm working with a different "interlock" right now which almost like a rib knit and has some stretch to it.

Tilda Raglan Sleeve Dress (Ottobre 6-2007-27).
Lily Leggings (Ottobre 6-2007-28).

Next up:
A Jalie men's pattern and a dress from an indie pattern company.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 in a Row

Jalie 2918; Chez ami striped jersey; brown jersey too slinky for the main fabric in a boys' shirt

When he ripped a giant hole in the elbow of his last nice shirt, I knew it was time to crank out some t-shirts for the child-who-will-not-wear-RTW. To my knowledge, he doesn't read sewing blogs, but he sure can go on about the horrible fit of store bought shirts!

Jalie 2918; Grey "chest stripe" pique knit which was $0.99 from
Despite its price, this stuff wears like iron. I'm glad I bought several different colors.

When I sat down and focused on cutting out and stitching up 5 shirts, it didn't take long at all. Having the time (and peace) to focus is the challenge!

Jalie 2918. Chez Ami jerseys.

Jalie 2918. More of that $0.99 pique knit, this time in dark teal. Oops. I really did not notice the fold fade line until it was way too late. And it had to be almost center front! Maybe that's why I didn't see it when I was cutting.

And the last one is "Billy Raglan Sleeve T-shirt" (Ottobre 4-2010-37). For this I used a red jersey scrap and some black jersey from Mill End Textiles. I like the design of the shirt a lot, and look forward to using different color combinations. This one ended up looking like a bowling shirt to me. (No offense to bowling shirts...).

I used the above pattern (the versatile Jalie 2918) for the 1st four shirts. That makes 13 uses for this pattern. Not too shabby.

Friday, March 2, 2012


My redhead turned 8!

She got the requisite age shirt and the black pants she's been requesting (black being her favorite color).

I've made the pants pattern (Neat Beat Pants from Ottobre 6-2007-17) 6 times now. The black fabric is a cotton sateen and a wonderful lint collector.

The t-shirt is a very basic shirt from Ottobre 4-2004-36. The same pattern piece is used for the front and back and the sleeves are symmetrical. Like I said, very basic. But the (thin) knit I used is a fun turquoise polka dot print, which makes up for a simple pattern and offsets the black pants nicely.

I almost made her a black shirt instead, but that probably would have been overkill!

We used to tame her crazy long red hair "Pebbles Flinstone" style.

Untamed hair. I was going to say "morning hair", but that looks more like lunch food than breakfast food.

Sara has a sweet and goofy personality. She loves gymnastics and is happy to spend all her time reading, if I let her, hence my joking nickname for her: Sara Kindle.

A shady shot of an appliqued 8.


©2009 21 Wale | by TNB