Sunday, June 21, 2015

Highs and Lows


Hello! Hope you've had a terrific weekend. I've been sewing lots but skipped blogging last weekend due to both time constraints and a general lack of enthusiasm. A number of disappointing projects in a row combined with looking at a slew of super crappy pictures of myself was a deterrent to blogging despite the fact that I have loads to say and share. No worries, though, because I plan to continue plugging away.... only way to get better, right?

The project I'm sharing today is HP1189  - Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous Shirt-Tail T -  a new-to-me pattern company. This is the first project in a while, since my black Mabel,  that I'm pleased with. I'm sure this has to do with the fact that I took more care with the process - mainly the hem and neckband.


I had just finished watching a Craftsy class called Sewing Fashion Knits: Beyond the Basics and I think it helped. There were quite a few good specific tips that I think will help me overall, as well as the reminder to slow down and aspire for a more finished result. My three big takeaways were:
  • Utilize your walking foot. It's really not that hard to attach and can really give you a more polished finish.
  • Adjust your serger's  differential differential feed when knits start getting wavy. I always start messing with the tension, but I'm going to consider the differential next time. 
  • Utilize different kinds of tape - e.g. wonder tape, stitch witch, fusible binding tape, etc. My hems are almost always better when I use some kind of temporary or permanent stabilizer. It really is worth it to take that extra step. 

Here's an example of when I don't take the extra steps and rush through a project. I've got a neckband that won't lay down and a craptastic hem. Curved hems + knits = confusion and sadness for me.


I just want to mention that after these pictures were taken I took an inch out of the center back seam, and the neck band sits much flatter and, while still oversized, the top fits a bit better. This was a really fun pattern that begs to be sewn up with striped fabric. You could also have fun with color blocking/ scrap busting here. I've never tried Hot Patterns before. The pattern is printed on thick paper, which is my preference. The instructions were not overly detailed but did provide enough information. This isn't a complicated project, after all. The hardest part - and maybe this is where the Advanced Beginner ranking comes from - is the curved hem. The instructions say to hem both sides before sewing up the side seams, and that does indeed make it  easier.

So that's all I have to share this week. I just checked out a bunch of sewing books from the library, so I've got all kinds of inspiration and new ideas swimming in my head - craft A.D.D., basically.

Thanks so much for reading and have yourself a fantastic week. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Color Style


Hello! Hope you've had a lovely weekend. Except for the extended gloom and cold, my weekend was pretty great. I've been all about quick little projects to get back into sewing, plus I had some nice knits that I wanted to work with.


This week I made a Colette Mabel mini, an oversized SBCC Tonic Tee, and an infinity scarf. I made the Mabel on a weeknight, which almost never happens, but it's such a quick and easy project. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me as the Mabel was my first knit project. I remember being so intimidated the first time. It was such a nice feeling to barely have to look at the directions this time. If you're thinking about making it, I would say that the mini is quite mini - even for me at 5'2" I just turned up the hem half an inch so it wouldn't be too short. I know a black tube skirt is a bit of a boring project, but I needed it to fill a hole in my wardrobe. It will get lots of wear. I used black ponte and made a size Large. I like the way it's not tight but the skirt stays put and never twists around.



For the Tonic Tee I was envisioning an oversized top with extra long cuffs I could pull over my hands to make it extra cozy and soft, so I made the 3X. Now that I've worn it a bit and looked at pictures, I can see that it really is WAY too big and will trim it down and shorten the sleeves/cuffs. That's an easy fix. The fabric, from Wanderlust but no longer available, is a two way stretch (or is it called four way?) and the stripes are unusual in that they are diagonal.


I really love this fabric and how it's an off white instead of a bright white. At one point, I excitedly told my husband that it reminded me of an old mattress, which made him look at me kind of funny. Usually I know what I like, but lately I keep finding myself vacillating between bright colors and more sedate tones. I love and have always loved rich, jewel toned colors, but I also love all the examples of tasteful garments in neutrals that I see on some of my favorite sewing blogs. I can't seem to make up my mind which camp I'm in.


And that's where the infinity scarf comes in. I don't have to choose. I can have a neutral, but still get a kick of color to cheer away the gloomy and foggy weather. The fabric, while not exactly a double gauze, is actually two layers of the softest knit sewn together in a similar manner. I bought it at Britex with one of my gift certificates and at 29.95 per yard it was more than I usually spend. Then when I got it home I realized that it wouldn't make a great top because the knit is super clingy. It was meant to be a scarf, I guess. Seriously, it's so soft it feels like cashmere against my face even though it's not. And the color makes me very happy.


So that's me with some new cozies. What about you? Do you ever have trouble deciding what your style is? Are you ever influenced by other bloggers only to find that their style may not work for you?
Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely week!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Big Bad Ladybug


Hello! Hope you're doing great! I finally got around to trying another Colette Aberdeen tunic and am here to share my thoughts.


In my last post, I was unhappy with how my Aberdeen turned out - mostly down to the drab color of my fabric and to the large fit in the neck and shoulders. So to remedy this I sized down from an extra large to a large and, a super bright (perhaps one might even say loud or garish?) color/pattern. I purchased this super soft cotton/rayon blend jersey from Wanderlust a while back. I think it was around $6 per yard. It's soft and has a nice drape and was called Ladybug. I thought it looked cute, but now that I've made something and worn it I'm thinking the fabric pattern might be a bit much for my short frame. I think I prefer smaller polka dots. However, I do like this version much better than my first one. Since it's a tunic it has a lot of ease built in, so sizing down was good. 


My favorite part, which isn't rendered in my sketch, are the 3/4, fitted cuffs. My least favorite part is the v-neck neckband. Even though I did a better job this time than my awful gray one, it's still not great. There's a weird dimple at the point followed by a little puffing out. Next time I want to try a mitered V-neck following this great Cake tutorial

For the hem, I used fusible bias tape and my twin needle. I didn't bother with serging the edge, but now I think it would look a little better if I had.


Overall, I think this is a nice, basic pattern and will continue to tweak it. But now I'm ready to move on to other projects. I'd like to replenish my Plantain collection - my most reached for tee-shirts of all time. I also promised to make my husband another linen Negroni, and I want to make a black Mabel to have as a basic, and... so much more! There are just so many fun things to make. Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic week!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Aberdeen, Thread, and Feeling Like Myself Again


Hello! Oh Man did I miss blogging! For the last two months I've been focusing ALL my energy on work, putting in extra hours on the weekends, working late, and generally feeling like a zombie. For the most part, it was a joyless, anxiety-ridden time, but I learned a lot- both about the job and about myself. Of course, now that I'm through the hard part, I can look back with appreciation. I had an opportunity to get paid to learn AND experienced revelations every day. How awesome is that?

I missed making things so much, though. It doesn't matter whether it's sewing, or ceramics. or painting, or making jewelry, I've come to realize that this an important part of my life that helps me maintain a sense of well being and is therefore just as important as the other parts of my life.

Alas, after that somewhat grandiose statement, I have a bit of a whimper of a make to show you. Behold the Colette/Seamwork Aberden:


First off, the color. Why I purchased a slubby knit the precise color of wet newspapers is a mystery.  I  think I was originally thinking about making a bottom with this fabric - some sweats or leggings - so wanted something low key.  When I saw the Aberdeen, a front and back V-tunic, I knew I wanted to make it, and since I'd abandoned whatever sweatpant plans I had for this fabric a long time ago, I thought I'd make a test version. I haven't had the best of luck with Colette patterns, so I'm glad I used this bland fabric up for my test version. The fit is not good.


I made an extra large. Clearly, it's way too big in the shoulders. I would be showing my bra straps all day. I could try a large to see how that fits. However,  I like the extra room everywhere else, so I'm wondering how one would go about doing an FBA on a knit batwing sleeve top.

I will definitely play around and try this pattern again. I think it just needs some tweaking. On the bright side, in an effort to perk up this drab fabric I explored the embroidery options on my sewing machine and played around with an embroidered hem. Check it out.



I didn't stabilize the fabric or anything. Because it's slubby, it's not super stretchy, so it was fine. Now, normally I would make some undies with the scraps, but because I didn't want to make a sad, gray pair of undies, I made an extra fancy little tea towel/wash cloth instead. I took it as an opportunity to explore my various stitches and use up some pretty bobs and bits of thread I've had sitting around.


So there you go. You win some and you lose some. The best part, though, is that I got back to making stuff, to experimenting, to making myself happy.

Thanks so much for reading and have a fabulous and creatively fulfilled week!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thinking about Spring


Hello! Hope you're doing great. This is another in-progress/ruminating post because I just haven't had the time I'd like to make stuff and finish projects. I've spent the last couple of weekends improving my InDesign skills for work. It's actually been great, and I can already see a vast improvement in my work, but, you know, something's gotta give.

Before I start describing my little sketch, which is actually pretty self explanatory given the accompanying notes, I want to say how very nice it was to be featured on Rhonda's Creative Life. How very cool! Being able to connect with people who also like to make things is one of the major reasons I wanted to blog in the first place. Thank you, Rhonda and other fellow creatives, for letting me know that I'm not just shouting into a void.

Okay, here's another UFO from several weeks back...


I'm SO close to being finished with this project. It's the Deer and Doe Bruyere bodice combined with a Deer and Doe Sureau skirt. Put those two together and what do you have? A shirt dress, that's what! I can't take credit for the idea, though. I saw a beautiful version on the lovely blog - La Couture Rose.
BTW, do you ever look at blogs in foreign languages? I may not speak or understand French, but that doesn't stop me from admiring all the pretty things this lady makes.

I added in-seam pockets and lined the skirt. Still need to hem the bottom and sleeves, add buttons/holes, etc. The dress is already a perfect length, so I'd like to create bias binding for the hem with my scraps.

I really should hurry up and finish it before it's completely out of season. The only thing I don't like about this so far is the shade of grey. I love warm greys and charcoals, but there's something about this shade that I have negative associations with - like pollution or ashes or something. I'm trying to think of a color for tights or a cardigan to brighten it up; so far I can only imagine aubergine.

Speaking of colors I love, here's something else I'm dreaming about:


I really want to make a triangle quilt in these colors. Right now Beej and I are constantly fighting over the couch throw that's not quite big enough for both of us. So right now I'm collecting scraps in these colors and hopefully soon I'll have some time to piece them together. So much to make, so many interesting things to learn and do.

Finally, I'm sharing a before/after DIY project that I completed a while back but never blogged about. I've got spring/decorating/decluttering on the brain and am trying to work out ways to freshen up my apartment. The first pic is a chair that Beej found on the sidewalk - AKA street treat.



I took off that yucky old fabric and pulled out about a million staples and cleaned it up as best I could. Then I covered it with a bit of pretty upholstery fabric from Britex. I can't remember a lot of details about the fabric. It was a bit pricey, but I didn't need much. I have enough of it leftover to do something with.

Well that was kind of a long and scattered post, wasn't it? Anyone else out there shifting over to decor inspiration lately? Must be a spring thing.

Have a lovely week and thank you very much for reading!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Another Sutton


Hello There! Happy Hump Day. Since the weather's been so lovely (sorry, east coasters, not trying to be obnoxious), I took another break from my Pavot  for some instant gratification. This is my third True Bias Sutton blouse. You can see my other two here and here.


Obviously, I'm a fan of the pattern, and since I've made two already this will probably be a short post as there's nothing new to note about the construction. I feel like I was getting to be a bit of a pattern junkie, which I'm totally okay with cuz, you know, it's way less harmful than being a real junkie, but lately I've really been enjoying playing around with the patterns I already have. What about you? Do you have any patterns that you keep going back to?


The Sutton ticks a lot of boxes for me. V-neck, kimono sleeves, hi-lo hem, and no closures means no-stress sewing. I also think the back yoke/pleat and subtle shaping make it a little less boxy, and the focus on finishing in the instructions (french seams, lots of trimming, understitching) forces me to slow down and then I'm more likely to end up with a garment I'm proud of.

The fabric is a rayon blend from Fabric Outlet in the Mission. I don't remember how much I paid, but I do remember that it was 50% off, so probably somewhere around 5 or 6 dollars per yard for a two-yard project. I wore it all day and didn't notice any heavy wrinkling, which is why I suspect it's some sort of blend. We'll see how it behaves after I wash it.

So that's it for me. Enjoy the rest of your week and thanks so much for reading!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pavot Progress


Hello Hello! Hope you're having a fantastic weekend. It's been a busy week for me with a number of different chores and projects, plus the whole earning-a-living thing. But I still feel like blogging, so since I don't have a finished project to share here's the process on something I've been working on for a while now.

Despite my two unfinished Colette Anise jackets (Oh the shame!) I still went ahead and purchased the Deer and Doe Pavot pattern back in November. I totally ignored the fact that I'm just not that big of a fan of peter pan collars and bought it anyway cuz I'm a middle-aged Deer and Doe fangirl. I kept envisioning a cool little trench - olive green with a leather collar. Sometimes when I get an idea in my head I'm like a dog with a bone. I just had to see it through

Pavot Progress

I redid the collar and like it much better now. I didn't like the rounded peter pan shape, plus it made the leather pucker in a way that made it look ill-fitting and cheap.  You can compare the two side by side. Although there are still other fitting issues to tweak (and, of course,  finishing, hemming, buttons, etc.) I think I'm almost there. 

Here are some more details:

  • To avoid the leather puckering and a too-thick seam, I cut the leather just short of the seam allowance (on the inside) and just stitched the leather on top of the cloth collar.
  • I just traced over the regular collar and drew a more angular shape. See below for a picture of the pattern piece. 
  • The leather was a scrap from an old skirt that I had already cut up to make an ipad case.
  • The fabric: Organic Cotton Twill from Discount Fabrics at 10.99 per yard. It's a really good weight for this type of coat. 
  • I'll have to take some pictures wearing it once finished as it doesn't look quite so frumpy on.
  • Fitting adjustments include an FBA on the princess bodice and grading out for the waist and bottom skirt. It's actually too big right now, even for outerwear, because the placket added more inches than I expected. I'm not sure how to fix that, though, because of the side seam pockets. 
  • The next time I grade out the waist, I'm using this awesome tutorial on the Curvy Sewing Collective.

Overall, I think it will be cute and, hopefully, wearable, but I think I should keep an eye out for an actual trench coat pattern for next time. Any suggestions?

Have a great week. Stay warm and safe and do something nice for yourself. Cheers, Donna