Sunday, May 27, 2012

defeat and victory: small things

Do you ever have one of those days where you just get cocky?  This is why they teach you the word hubris in high school I think...

Last night I walked to the store, took DC to the playground, made a delicious, nutritious dinner everyone enjoyed, and fixed the backed up drain (with liquid plumber, but still, I plumbed, people!).

This morning I finished knitting the Latvian Baby Blanket as well as sewing the neverending baby dress.  I don't know why, but that dress just took so much longer than it should have.

Check out the contrasting patterned piping.  I made that!  It was my first time making and using piping-- of course that's part of what took so damn long.  It isn't cut on the bias though.. I just used a little scrap of fabric and a short piece of acrylic yarn that were lying about.  The piping doesn't go around any corners or curves anyway.

I was determined to finish the dress so I could sew up a pair of shorts for DC.  I had all the pieces cut out and just needed to start sewing.  In one unusually productive morning I managed to get the shorts almost all the way done.  This is the Little Heartbreaker Pants pattern so it's a bit time consuming, what with all the topstitching, edgestitching, understitching, and fancy seam finishes (I used all French seams, of course).

It doesn't look like much does it?  Pictures cannot do justice to the pain, the folly, the hubris =(

What you see here is what it looks like when you sew the back pieces together upside down and then sew them in like that.  Basically what you see here is so many wasted hours (I may be exaggerating, but nonetheless it's heartbreaking no?) and the result of being cocky.  I may or may not rip them out and sew them in correctly, but seriously, they're all French seams!  Is it even worth it?  Sigh...

Monday, May 21, 2012

More Sewing for Boys (and Knitting for Girls)

Spring comes late this year which means Dj is getting a lot of use out of his new pants I've made him.  The first pair were black cords I did for Kids Week Clothing Challenge Day 3 and here are the second (khakis) and third (denim) pairs. 

 Even with a smartphone and a cookie as incentive I couldn't get him to pose today.  He just ended up givin' me one a these looks:

You can almost hear him saying mo-om (the longer you can stretch that out in your head the more accurate) and rolling his eyes.  Looking forward to that by the way =P

I made the shirt too, obviously another raw edge raglan.  This one has a frog appliqued on it though!  It's only been like a decade or so since I did any needlepoint at all so I'm pretty psyched with my horribly ugly poison dart frog.  Why a frog?  He loves frogs as much as a 3 year old does anything.  When we go to the zoo he just stands and watches the frogs hop around for minutes.  For him that might as well be an hour.  He also likes to point and say frog a lot, just in case I'd forgotten that that's what we're looking at =)  Here's a closeup in case you didn't believe it.  Fortunately about 2/3 of the way through I got the hang of the stem stitch so I intend to keep practicing.  Watch out for appliques on anything and everything!

Little Heartbreaker Pants number 3 I'll admit are a bit of a bust.  They're were the most ill advised project ever.  My only consolation is that the material was a really ugly pair of pants before I got started.  At least he's so cute he can pull 'em off!

The denim was really too thick for my machine to handle more than 4 or 5 layers at a time (looks like mom was right about that), the heavy weight polyester thread I bought melted  all over as soon as it hit the frikkin iron, and the last minute patternless pockets I salvaged from the original pants do not do the backside any favors.  Not to mention they were just about impossible to actually sew on because of gripe #1 above.

In brighter news I'm over halfway done with Lizzie's baby blanket (Rav page here).  My husband took one look at it when I finished the gold/yellow section and freaked me out a bit with his negative reaction.  Fortunately the good people on Ravelry were kind enough to say some nice things and overall just remind me that my husband has no color sense at all and I should stop listening to him.  

Just kidding...  It is an unusual combination I'll admit, but I think I like it.  I'll have to get the second heart section going before I can decide, but I should be well into by tomorrow night.  The more I look at it the more I like it, though.

I already blogged about this shirt but, just, cute!

By the way, the total cost of his new clothes (2 pairs pants, one shirt) is about $5.  Some fabric for lining from Goodwill, a t-shirt, and that evil polyester thread (which btw comprises more than half the total cost!).  The two pairs of pants salvaged were free (and I do love free)!  Remembering how much we always spend on a new wardrobe for him twice a year or more it feels so good to think that despite the money going towards thread and fabric and clothes to refashion at least I'm producing something tangible and maybe we're even saving some money

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Darling Ranges Top...

Otherwise known as facing my fears.  I fell in love with the Darling Ranges Dress pattern as soon as I saw it and thought it, unlike most patterns I've been ogling, would work as a maternity top.  Just so happens there was a sew-a-long and a discount going on so I just went for it, despite fears of not being able to figure it out. 

Like a good little sewer (sewist?) I made a muslin first which will never, ever, ever see the light of day because it's just that awful...  I'm so glad I did because it made a few things apparent:

1. The gathering at the back would have to go.  It was just too big and boxy for me at this size, I looked like I was wearing a tent.  A big, pastel blue tent.  Or a hospital gown...
2. An FBA would be required.  I traced the pattern (to be safe) and followed the instructions on Megan Nielson's blog to add an FBA.  Obviously I didn't add enough, though.  That or my boobs are growing with my tummy.
3. A shirt might be better than a full dress.  I think in a darker, less patterned material it might work, but in lighter colors or prints I think it's just overwhelming.

I redrafted the back bottom piece to be fitted with a sort of A-line shape and added my FBA... Sewed it all together and then stopped.  My machine has a buttonhole foot, but I hadn't a damn idea how to use it!  I asked my mom, the previous owner, who said the foot was definitely missing a part.  I even took it to the sewing & vac store to see if they could help and the lady just looks at it and shakes her head.  "What makes you think it's broken?"  Oy.

Fast forward to yesterday...  I got out my Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and thankfully it, like my sewing machine, is old.  Not quite vintage, but as old as I am.  A scant hour later: buttonholes.  Pink buttonholes =) and pink buttons. 

By the way how awesome is my kitchen floor?  It's the only thing I'll miss about this house when we move.

I tried Megan's trick for sewing on the buttons by machine, but honestly I thought it was easier to just handstitch 'em on.

I'm actually not done, I have to either hem, add elastic to, or remove the sleeves.  As much as I love the total pregnant Lucille Ball vibe I get from the wide sleeves I think this top will probably end up sleeveless.  It just seems like it was meant to be, with that cheery as hell print and summer coming.  

By the way, I love yellow,  pink, and orange but normally avoid them because "it's just not my color" according to my mom (and fashion magazines).  I bought this fabric because it was 5 yards for like $3 at the op shop (I assume that means thrift store, I just love the way it sounds) thinking it'd be good for baby stuff.  Much to my surprise I love it!  It may have opened up a whole new color palette for me.  

Or maybe not.  

It could just be the crazy pregnancy hormones.

I like to call this my MySpace pose, because I remember when MySpace was new, digital cameras became standard on cell phones, and photos like this became the norm.  Ahh the wonders of technology.  Obviously I really just love that vinyl.

And speaking of stuff from the 70s, look what I picked up at the op shop on Friday.

Not my size, but I don't care.  I just love 60s and 70s stuff and someone had recently brought in a whole bunch of patterns.  I may go back this week and see if they still have some of the rest.  Just because.  I also got some fabric on the cheap (half price green tags on Fridays).

Super soft flannel for Christmas PJs: $2.50 for about 3 yards

This wasn't on sale, and it was overpriced for Goodwill, but I love fish and the beach and I just had to have it.  It's a small piece, so I'll have to think about what to do with it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shirred Maternity Tops

I love this tutorial from very talented designer Megan Nielsen's DIY maternity blog.  These tops have been done for weeks now, but I just finally got pictures of them.  Both were made from thrifted tops.  The first one was bought for refashioning purposes:

I swear in Seattle this year it's either raining and freezing or it's sunny as all get out (or it's all three at the same time, like today).  Nonetheless, you get the idea.  The fabric is 100 % cotton in cream with brown dots embroidered all over.  These pics don't really do it justice, it's really cute...  Other than the fact it could really use a good ironing, as if that's likely to happen.

Gratuitous baby bump shot.  I'm 32 weeks by the way.  I didn't have elastic thread (umm, apparently) so I used some weird clear elastic I had in my sewing box for reasons unbeknownst to me.  It's basically thread, except it's really thick and, well, sticky?  It's not covered in cotton or anything so it had a helluvatime getting out of the bobbin holder/case.  I'm sure that thing has a name but alas, I have yet to learn it.  It worked just fine, though!  Mend and make do, right?

In the comments section of the blog post a lot of people were asking what the back looked like...  Well, here it is, with one caveat: Following the instructions to the letter I was left with a whole lot of excess material on the back which looked, well, sloppy.  So I put the shirt on inside out and repinned and resewed the side seams taking about an inch or two off each side of the back.  It may have been just a little bit too much around the belly apex, but it looks better overall.  I actually think it would be really cute with ties (a la Darling Ranges dress) to help hide the excess back material while you're not using it.


Onto the second: this shirt was foisted (I mean... donated?) by my mom.  I warned her not to buy it because it's just not her style.  No less than a week later she insisted that I take it and wear it.  I mused I could perhaps sew something out of it and she said "Oh no, just wear it as is; it looks great."  It did not; it was awful.  Shiny pink & silver stripes chevronning all over the front of a big boxy shirt is apparently not a good look for me.

Fast forward a year and it becomes shirred maternity top #2.  It was a bit tricky and I'm not 100% happy with it, but it'll do for the next couple months at least.  These were the biggest problems:

Even though it was XL or XXL it was quite short.  I have a long torso, and the front bump expansion certainly seems to eat fabric, but this thing is just barely long enough.

There are darts.  There are darts in the back which is good I suppose since it meant I had to shape the sides slightly less.  Then there are darts in the front in the (very) general vicinity of the boob area.  All the darts are very small and not very well placed on me.  Meaning that they don't do much to create extra room for the parts that need it and they mostly just futz with the stripes =(

There was no button right below the bust where the shirring is so I had to add a hook and eye to keep it from gaping (obviously the shirring pulls).  I feel like the buttons are too far apart on this shirt, but they aren't quite far enough to squeeze in an extra button between each one.

I think that a men's shirt works better for this tutorial, overall.  While I love that this shirt is pink and sparkly (both at the same time) the shape just isn't ideal for refashioning.

Instead of following the tut again and having to adjust I simply put the shirt on inside out and pinned where I wanted the side seams to lie (basing it on the seams of my tank top underneath) and it worked just fine.  One thing I've noticed, though, is that the cutting and gathering at the neck change the fit a lot so I think it's better to do that first and then the side cutting.

Basically the cost of these shirts was about $8 total (5ish for one shirt and about 2 bucks for elastic thread, plus tax).  I'm pretty happy with that, especially considering the cost of maternity clothes.  I'm working on one more in plaid from a donated shirt.  Coming soon =)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Just one of those days....

Do you ever have one of those days where you can't seem to get anything right?  Like you lose your debit card (in the ATM at the bank, and thank the kind soul who found it and gave it to the bankers)  and then forget it at home when you go out shopping.  Like you spend all day pinning (and sometimes sewing) the wrong pieces together in the wrong orientation.  Like you break your sewing machine (but fortunately it's not really broken) and lose the brand new pack of denim needles you just bought without which you can't really finish any of your WIPs.

That's how my week has been progressing.  Fortunately God watches over fools (isn't that how it goes?  or maybe it's fools and drunks) and I certainly feel lucky that all these potentially awful things turned out to only be minor inconveniences...  It could be early onset Alzheimer's I suppose, or a lesser known symptom of pregnancy.   Basically, though, I've been doing a lot of sewing related stuff this week with very little to show for it.  As a matter of fact, this is all I've got:

It's the raw edge raglan tee from Sewing for Boys (again) but this time all did not go smoothly. First, the dark blue shirt had super short sleeves and was in an almost child size (I used to wear it when I was 12 or 13) so there was not enough for sleeves.  Like at all.  Not for this pattern, not without doing some serious piecing which I was not prepared to do.  Not having anything to really match I ended up using an old white men's undershirt (all right, a wifebeater...  I don't know what else you'd call it but everybody knows what that is right?) which was in almost new condition.

Unfortunately the blue is very stable and the white is completely unstable!  I cut the neckband (as usual) a bit on the long side and it and the sleeves totally stretched out as soon as I got them cut out.  So basically it was a very '80s looking off the shoulder toddler tee.  Rather than ripping off the neckband and cutting a new one (because it's impossible to rip stitches out of this material, it just falls apart) like, oh I don't know, a sane person, I ripped a small hole and threaded through some 1/4 inch elastic.  It kind of gives a gathered neckline/sleeves effect but it fits and I was not fiddling with it anymore.

As for everything else:

Muslin #1 of the Darling Ranges dress (so excited) all sewn up except for closures because I do not have a buttonhole foot.  Even with no closures, though, I can see some places where there's some serious work to be done.  Like the darts.  WTF?  I don't even know how to explain, much less fix, what's happening there.

Little Heartbreaker Pants #2 are almost finished, unfortunately I really need those heavy weight needles to finish the waistband (already broke one trying to sew down the many layers).  For anyone planning this pattern, unless you're working with a really lightweight fabric I recommend a heavier needle because in so many places there are just soo many layers to sew through.  That's what I've seen with my machine, anyway.

Little Hearbreaker Pants #3 are cut and since they're a heavy denim I'm not even gonna start sewing til I find those needles =(

And in desperation tonight I cut out and pinned another raglan so I actually have something to sew tomorrow morning.  BTW, don't you love when care tags say something crazy?

In case you can't read that it says  "Steam ironing maybe required for restoration"  The tag is from a T-shirt.  Restoration of what?!  I'm still pretty new to both ironing and label reading, though, so perhaps this isn't that strange a direction.

On a lighter note: fabric I'm excited about (perhaps for the Darling Ranges dress proper)