Thursday, February 26, 2015

In lieu of sewing

My basement sewing lair is still packed up because of renovations. Though I've set up a temporary sewing station upstairs, I'm not allowing myself to sew anything new before I finish the princess Leia costume a friend asked me to make. It's not hard, but I keep procrastinating because I don't want to screw up.

Other than that, I've been keeping myself busy with this:


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/edwards-menagerie/patterns
There have been a LOT of babies born to friends of mine in the last year. My go-to gift has been a hand made stuffed toy with an accompanying book. I found the Edward's Menagerie book on our trip to Portland and figured that I'd get my money's worth (because of all the babies... so many babies). It's a beautiful book and the makes are basic enough for someone who is an occasional crocheter like myself. And they are ridiculously cute and pretty quick to make. So far I've made the cat, giraffe and just started the bunny—one ear took me 25 min this morning to give you an idea of time.



I've also tried to get back into knitting a little starting with the craftsy class for the Not So Itty Bitty Giraffe. To be honest, I found the class a little lacking. It would have been better to have short you-tube videos of the handful of key points in the pattern where one might need assistance. It seemed to me that there was a lot of chit chat/filler that made me glad I got the class on sale. The pattern itself is great and the end result is adorable. There were some tips Susan gave throughout the class that were very helpful and that translate to the making of other soft toys.

                                                   

My next knitting venture took me to Elijah the elephant. I enjoyed the results of the construction on this one, ie: knitting (grafting??) directly onto already completed portions of the toy instead of sewing together individual pieces. I had never done this before, and it wasn't particularly easy, but managed it because of the great pictures and explanations included in the instructions. I had also never attempted short rows before this make. I'm still not sure if I was successful. I watched most of a free craftsy class on the subject (excellent instructor) but I need to practice that particular technique.

                                     


My most favourite new make is my second attempt at a knitted sweater. It's the Purl Soho Pullover and the pattern was free for signing up for their newsletter. My first sweater attempt was a complete frickin' disaster so I was hoping that this simpler sweater would be easy and successful. I'm using Impecable yarn in "charcoal tweed": 
It's really black with rainbow flecks. I seem to have a problem with only buying rainbow-variegated yarn.
I consider this a baby step into the world of knitting with only one colour. I have two pairs of coloured jeans planned to go with this sweater when I get my sewing space back. 





























Last night, I got to the end of the shoulder shaping and realized that my counting was off by two stitches. Lesson learned: COUNT STITCHES REGULARLY!! Erin, you dummy.
I don't think I'm going to rip out more than one row to get back on track. I still have 3 decrease rows and one regular knit row and I can fudge it. The damn yarn is black and I can't see where I screwed up so no one else will. It was also touch and go when attaching the sleeves (the instructions still don't make sense to me), but I relied on common sense and what I could remember from the learn-to-knit class I took a couple of years ago.

There was one very helpful review I found which helped me decide to make this. Susan's make looks so nice I was convinced that this sweater wouldn't be a waste of time for me. 


A friend gave me a whole swack of fabric and yarn she didn't want anymore that included a couple of sock yarns. Guess what I'll be trying next?



Monday, January 26, 2015

Deer & Doe Plantain

I'm in search of tride and true (tnt) patterns for all the basic pieces in my closet.
I've got a button-down that's pretty close, some magical shorts that I've copied that fit no matter how much I weigh that I'm translating into jeans, and now i'm close to having a t-shirt tnt of my very own.

Plantain is a free pattern from Deer & Doe (as I'm sure you well know unless you are new to the sewing blogosphere). It's has a different shape than what you might be used to (ie: it can look a little maternity), and I wasn't sure about it myself, but it sure is easy to wear! Besides, taking in side seams is an easy alteration that can change the shape to whatever floats your boat. Plus it has cute little elbow patches that I have yet to try.



I made some small changes to affect the fit for myself, and after looking at my pictures I'm going to need to make some more changes.

On my muslin (not shown), I cut a 38 and graded to a 40 at the hip according to my measurements. In this version, I used a 38 throughout and like the amount of ease much better.

My changes:
1. forward shoulder 1/2". Finally a t-shirt that isn't sliding back all the time!
2. raised neckline to the smallest size – perfect. Changed the length of the binding to correspond with this change.
3. I can't remember if I made a broad back adjustment (all sewing packed away), but I'll check when I'm able. I suspect that I did.
4. took out the sleeve at the bicep and elbow. It was a little tight and uncomfortable in this jersey.

From drag lines the pics, it looks like I also need to:

1. sloping shoulder adjustment and lower the arm hole accordingly
2. swayback adjustment. I usually don't bother but it looks like shit and I should really figure that shit out. Any suggestions on how to do this?

This pattern fit my shoulder to bust area much better than the Sewaholic Renfrew that everyone has had so much success with. I think the Sewaholic block is not right for me, though the Minoru jacket is still a favorite. I've tried a couple of other no-name t-shirt patterns, but so far this one is the best for me.

Pattern review is here.http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/107286

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stitch Magazine's Weekender Duffel Bag



I'm destashing and packing up my sewing stuff so we can paint and put new carpet in the basement after a 3+ year reno. In the meantime, I'm going to get my fix by reviewing and posting everything I've sewn and not blogged blogged about for lack of time/energy/interest and most importantly inability to take a decent photograph.

A long time ago, I thought it might be fun to make a duffel. There are some great patterns out there on the interwebs, but none of them were exactly what I wanted (I have no interest in quilting anything). Then I found stitch magazine's weekender duffel bag. Oh ya, and it's free.



I went out, bought fabric, bought lining and just missed the sale on iterfacing so my project stalled for a number of months. Finally got the interfacing but my momentum had stalled so it sat for another few months—until my recent stash busting mission.

If you decide to make this yourself, be warned, the downloaded version does not come with instructions. Since I was winging it, my order of construction was a bit wonky. Not sure if I would do it again exactly like this, but here's what I did:

1. Insert zip into top two panels.
2. Attach lining to zip on opposite side.
3. Attach end panels to zipper panel (outside and lining fabric separately, though in future I would treat them as one and bind the seam.
4. Attach bottom to zip/end panels, creating a circle of fabric.
5. Sew outer pocket to lining installing piping.
6. Attach outer pockets to side panels, stitching down centre of pocket and baste along bottom/side edges
7. Bast side panel lining to outer fabric lining along edge
8. Sew side panels to zip/circle piece.
9. These seams with self-made binding from lining fabric.

There was one thing that I still can't make sense of. On the end panels (those that you attach to the top zipper panel), it says to cut 4 fabric and two lining. For the life of me, I cannot think of what you'd need the extra two fabric pieces for. I used them like an interlining.

End panel attached to zip panel shown here.
For interfacing I used this stuff (sorry no name) that Taran helped me pick out. It's stiff but has loft – perfect. I think you are supposed to use two different types of interfacing for different sections but I used the same one on all outer fabric pieces except for the top two attached to the zip where I used nothing. My lining was a very stiff home dec poly taffeta – super durable as a suitcase lining but melty-melty if I even looked at it with an iron in my hand. It also added some body to the bag and helps it not to completely collapse when empty, as to the bound seams.

Lining and binding

My outer fabric is also from the home dec discount department. Both the lining and the fabric were a good deal. I probably paid more for the interfacing on sale.

I had to guess on the length/width of the straps, but I used the pic as a guide and it turned out well. I also inserted flexible plastic tubing (can get at home depot, or my dad's garage) to make them stiffer and easier to hold.

Would I make this again? Proabably as a gift. The end result was very satisfying. It's large enough to use for a weekend but small enough that it's not unwieldy.

I love it and I can't wait to use it!!

I put a bird on it.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Foxy Lady

We are renovating our basement... for the last three/four years. sigh. It's almost done. In anticipation of packing up my sewing area to ready for painting and carpet installation—which I'm sure will take at least a month because we are champions of procrastination—I've been trying to sew from my stash and actually make some of the projects that have been staring me in the face for the last I don't know how long just so I won't have to pack up as much crap. This post is not about one of those. ;-P

There was a sale at Fabricland this weekend and I haven't been there since maybe the beginning of December if not earlier. $4/metre flannel was too good of an excuse and I didn't receive my full quota of pj pants this Christmas so there you go.



I picked this cute fox fabric similar here—which is incidentally also the favourite of Taran (hi sewing buddy)—and took it home with the intention of sewing it up before the weekend was over so it wouldn't sit all packed away for at least another month.

I'm happy to say that it's mission accomplished.


I picked Simplicity 2262 from a short stack of elasticized waistband pants from my stash. This one won out because the technical drawing looked like it had a lower rise which I can't do without on pants (I think I have a tilted pelvis (maybe) which results in normal rise pants feeling like they are on backwards – anyone else have this issue?)

The only pattern/instruction changes I made were:
• lower the front rise another 1 1/8" (tapering to nothing at the side seam)
• added cuffs with flat piping (bias binding)
• folded over a wider casing at waist to acommodate drawstring/elastic and the elastic is anchored at the side seams
• sewed, serged and flat felled all seams

These pants sewed up a smidge short for my liking (but accurate to the envelope photo) and I'd rather have my pjs a little longer especially when they are made out of flannel which will inevitably shrink even though I pre-shrunk.

Ugh! sorry for the terrible pics. I've yet to figure out how to take decent blog photos obviously.


This pattern was easy to sew and would have been even faster if I would have just stuck to the instructions but who does that?
Looking at the picture, the back fits surprisingly well. I will most definitely make these again when new pjs are needed.

After finishing these I was wondering... do these count for Jungle January?


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Birthday Jacket: A Review of Waffle Patterns Cookie Zip Blouson


I asked for this pattern for my birthday back in June. My mom was nice enough to make all of my birthday dreams come true and kindly got it for me. 

I was raring to go when I received it in my email and quickly printed it, checked my measurements against the pattern, cut it out and sewed it up nearly completely. I got to where I could try it on to check the fit in the arms/back (where I usually have issues) and was quickly disappointed. The armholes were super low – to the point where when I raised my arms the entire jacket went with them. Ugh.

So it sat on my dress form while I ruminated about what to do to salvage it. For 6 months.

I wasn't sure if I should just take it in under the arm? Did I need to add a gusset for movement? As with all of my procrastinations, I should have just tried something instead of letting it sit there for so long – humming and hawing – not wanting to make a mistake or god forbid do something more than once.

In the end I just took it in under the arm... a lot. About 3/4" added to the seam line. If I make it again, I'll move the armhole up in the standard way on the flat pattern.


In the end, I like it. I didn't spend a lot on it and used fabrics from my stash (which is why I didn't make   a muslin first). The plaid is from a second hand store for probably $6 for 3 metres or something. and the "ribbing" is a sweater knit fleece left over from my cat halloween costume.

If I do make it again:
1. Take it in on the side seams. It's quite wide and feels a little big.
2. Raise the under arm before I cut it out.
3. Make the sleeves a little shorter.
4. Use an actual ribbing and maybe make the cuffs and bottom ribbing a little more snug. I'm not sure if it's loose because of the pattern or because of the fleece I used for this iteration.
5. Add a lining: this is mentioned in the instructions, but there are no pattern pieces.
6. Use regular zippers. I was all freaked up about finding the exact length of zip for the front and could only find it in a chunky weight – which was fine, but then installing the pocket zips in the same weight was kind of a nightmare.
7. Add a lining.




The insides:

My review on PR: 

Pattern Description:
*Zipper blouson with 2 pockets
*Round shape yoke
*Knit fabric on cuffs, collar and hem
*Raglan type gathered long sleeve
*Gather on back and front bodice
<b>Pattern Sizing:</b>

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?
Very good instructions. She includes instructions for both lined and unlined with finished edges and there's an online tutorial for the lining <a href="http://tmblr.co/ZsHgpt1PwAycv" target="_blank">here</a>: 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The armhole was much, much too low for practical arm movement.

Fabric Used:
From my stash: poly woven plaid and left over knit sweater fleece from a different project. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
After first fitting, I took in the sides 3/4" which effectively raised the armhole enough for decent arm movement. This also took in the sleeves which were a little too "blouson" for my taste.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I probably will at some point with the following changes:
1. Take it in on the side seams. It's quite wide and feels a little big.
2. Raise the under arm before I cut it out.
3. Make the sleeves a little shorter. 
4. Use an actual ribbing and maybe make the cuffs and bottom ribbing a little more snug. I'm not sure if it's loose because of the pattern or because of the fleece I used for this iteration.
5. Add a lining: this is mentioned in the instructions, but there are no pattern pieces. 
6. Use regular zippers. I was all freaked up about finding the exact length of zip for the front and could only find it in a chunky weight – which was fine, but then installing the pocket zips in the same weight was kind of a nightmare. 
7. Add a lining.

Yes, please someone else make this. It's so cute and easy to sew. 

Conclusion:
It's a cute little jacket that's a little different than the traditional bomber style. 



More pics, but this time with horrible shitty shit-ass lighting!
You can see here that the sleeves are a touch long and it's maybe just a little bit big in the sides.



That's all folks!





Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Well-Deserved Vacation

The past few months were busy and stressful for many reasons not the least of which was that B and I were both involved in a community theatre production of RENT as Vocal Coach and Costume Designer respectively.

Even though there was almost no sewing involved in costuming RENT there were a lot of obstacles that I automatically turned into stress for myself. Limited budget, difficult body types to find clothes for and ridiculously quick/numerous costume changes were the big three.

80% of the costume pieces were found at second hand stores and the rest were from cast member's closets, the theatre company's costume cache and my own closet (turns out my current wardrobe is that of a lesbian lawyer/bohemian performance artist from the 90s).

I've learned that I'm not a good leader, but I am an excellent helper. I would never take on this responsibility alone again, but would happily help out someone else.

The performances went really well, the cast was amazing, and in the end I had fun.

Three days after the last performance, B and I went on vacation for two whole weeks. We chose to go to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C. — B is into brewing his own beer lately, and I liked SanFrancisco so much, Portland seemed like a good place to go (it being the craft beer mecca of the world and having the same west-coast sensibilities as SanFran). We have friends that just moved to Vancouver and it's so close to Portland we decided to go there as well.

Good things about Portland:
1. Incredibly good public transportation
2. Friendly people
3. Doughnuts
4. Home of Rogue Brewery (that one's for B)
5. Saw my first NBA game (the Trailblazers won)

The weather was not awesome. We had freezing rain the first day, which was better than the 8 inches of snow that was expected, followed by three days of sun accompanied by the coldest wind that the good people of portland refused to recognize. I was wearing 4+ layers on top with a toque on my head and wool socks on my feet and walked by some dude riding his bike wearing nothing but shorts and running shoes. Keep Portland weird.

Highlights were the Trailblazers game, the jazz club, the fish and chips and salad we shared at a little pub and watching Interstellar (best movie I've seen in a long time) at the old theatre there.

In Vancouver, we stayed with friends for two nights and finished off the last three nights at a beautiful hotel downtown. Our friends have a delightful 6 month old that is so beautiful and cute I just want to bite her face. It was hard to leave her.

Highlights from Vancouver:
1. The Vancouver Aquarium: I hadn't been there since I was 12 and for the $30 admission/person, it was totally worth it.
2. Pie: For some reason, it was next to impossible to find pie in Portland–and I love me some pie.
3. Lunch with a friend of my best friend from University. She has her own production company and is making a movie. It was fascinating finding out about her project. If/when she makes it to TIFF, I'll post about it.
4. Our friend's baby. Seriously the cutest.
5. Our nice hotel room at the end of a long trip where we took afternoon naps every day.

For the last few years, every trip I've gone on I've gotten fabric as a souvenier. I Zeroed-in on one brochure in the lobby of our Portland hotel.

Fabric Depot is a quilter's paradise. About 30% of this massive store is dedicated to apparel fabric (which is where I spent all of my time). There was also an impressive array of notions where I picked up some steam a seam and chalk refills, both of which I can't get locally anymore (not at fabricland anyway). 

B picked out fabric for a shirt and pants and I found more colourways/patterns of the same thick flannel that I picked up in SanFran and made this shirt. It's Robert Kaufman plaid flannel which you can find at Fabric.com. I got this one this time:

Here all all of my new lovelies: 

I admit it's a pretty tame pallet by my usual standards. From left to right: 

1. cotton shirting for B (Portland – Fabric Depot) 
Will be a shirt – long sleeve or short depending on how my guess at yardage pans out.

2. charcoal stretch denim (Vancouver – Atex Fabrics $7/m) – for me. 
I copied a pair of my shorts this summer (post to come) and want to use that pattern to make jeans. 

3. Black quilted ponte knit (Vancouver – Dressew Supply)
Planning to mix with plain black ponte in a sweatshirt/jacket/hoodie or some such thing.

4. Grey cotton corduroy for B (Portland – Fabric Depot) – pants. 

5. My precious. (see above)

6. Purple stretch corduroy (Vancouver – Dressew Supply)
Found in the discount section for something like $4/metre. They will be pants for me. 

I'm pattern-testing a little Christmas craft at the moment (will post), then I've really got to get stash busting. I've got a cute idea for my nieces/nephew's christmas present this year that I hope to share with you soon as well. 
Be well!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Butterick 5505 Review

I made this bag at the beginning of the summer and it's well-used and worn at the corners already.




Review:

Pattern Description: 
Back packs – three views. I made view B. This pattern is now out of print but was previously published as Butterick See and Sew 5670 so I'd assume there's a chance it will make another appearance in the future?

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?
Yes, though there was one error in the drawing for step18 that threw me off a little – the zipper is illustrated backwards, ie: the pull and stop are at the opposite end as compared to all other illustrations.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's very simple but because of the folding produces an interesting bag. The only thing I didn't like is that it doesn't instruct you to secure the strap at the top D-ring making it difficult to put it on both shoulders. I'm usually a cross-body strap kind-of-girl, but the back pack comes in very handy when biking, grocery shopping and fabric shopping. Any of the views would make a great small purse for traveling. View B has the flap that covers the zip to the small zipped pocket that is a great place to keep a passport. Because of the folding, this bag can't hold more than the essentials without loosing it's shape so keep that in mind if you like to tote around your whole life with you. I just barely fit a tablet in there but that was a stretch.

Fabric Used:
Vinyl for the outer and a matching poly lining for the inside.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have some old canvas Canadian mint bank bags that I'd like to use to make a version of this. I'd probably leave off the flap and use exposed metal zippers for that version.

Conclusion:
I really like this bag and I've used it so much that I've worn out the finish of the vinyl at the corners already. If I do end up making this again I'd like to reinforce those somehow. I recommend it. It's cute and the design is interesting.

This was the first time I sewed with vinyl and I have some tips for you:
I used tape a lot instead of pins, and where I had to use pins, I tried to keep them in the seam allowance. I was lucky and my vinyl didn't show the pin holes too badly.  Use the finest pins you can get your hands on so at least the holes will be small if you need to make them. I tried using clamps as well but they just got in the way.
I didn't use a special needle, just a new one that was on the narrow side. I also have a teflon presser foot that I think must have helped as well.

Here it is being put to good use last weekend after a trip to the farmer's market. I love that it leaves my hands free.




My next bag is a free lined Duffle bag pattern that I thought was from Thread's magazine, but now I can't find it. There's no instructions but it shouldn't be very difficult to figure out. Stay tuned!