Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vacation and sewing fun

I'll be vacationing far away from the internet (and cable, and, just possibly, cell phone towers) for the next week so this blog will go into silence mode for that time.

To tide you over, here's some pics of what's I've been up to!

Some bags I've made. The far left one, the yellow and red one, is a padded laptop bag. The rest are green grocery bags. Lots of fun and very easy to make!

The two most green grocery bags ready for transport. The green flower one folds up into it's handy pouch while the solid green one rolls and gets tied up. I prefer the pouch personally but I wanted to experiment a bit.

More coasters, this time in fuzzy mode! The lighting's bad right now so I'll have to make it up with better pictures later. The blue one is showing that the blue felt isn't inheritantly tacky, it's just tacky when I try to pair it with red and white, like the previous coasters. I wound up googling wedding colors and got a truck load of ideas of what colors actually look good with others. This blue with lime green coaster was a result. And the green lime thread is serious stash - it's on a wooden spool and cost 30c when new. I assume that was whenever this color was last in vogue. But it's still strong and it's not like any important seams are depending on it! The brown coasters were me FINALLY trying to sew on a beginner's level (I never was any good at that, even as a beginner. Which is why I have so many ... interesting ... things ... as relics of that time) and just doing straight lines across the felt. I really like how they look. They're best when the straight lines are done with a slight zig-zag stitch for definition but even at their most basic they're nice. Good to know!

And, in other news, I finally have a sewing class ready to start up! It'll begin a week after we get back. So much to do!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More felt coaster fun

I had fun today.  :)

The brown coasters with blue curves are based on these coasters. I drew the lines on tissue paper, using various round things in my kitchen as the templates and then stitched the design on a sandwich of tissue paper-felt-felt. Thread width set to 2, length at 1. The double layer of felt gives it a great quilted, puffy effect and the tissue paper kept the felt from getting stretched out - a problem I had with prior coasters.

Anyway, fun evening. Also started to teach DH how to sew ... but that's a story for another time. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Playing with my machine

After years of avoiding any sort of embroidery on my machine, I decided to give it a go. I've been making up samples of projects for the sewing class I'm teaching (staring in just a few weeks!) and our first project will be simple little drink coasters made from felt. Theirs won't look like these - at least I don't expect them to.  We'll start with straight lines.  I made up a handful of samples with just the straight lines and I like them - but these are the ones that caught my camera's attention.  :)

These were made with two pieces of felt, one red, one brown.  I put brown thread in the bobbin, red in the needle, and then followed the pictures I'd sketched in the felt.  More or less - the marking pen didn't show up very well so a good amount of it was freehand.  The tapering lines you can see in each coaster were formed by sewing along as I narrowed the stitch width.  Somehow the combination of guiding the fabric with the left hand while turning a dial with my right made me feel so very coordinated.  It's a rare feeling for me so I enjoyed it!

I did the border last, though maybe I should have done it first.  Will try next time.  Anyway, the cheap felt tended to stretch and skew due to all the dense stitches so I finished off by sewing the borders then trimming off a good 1/4" from the edges.  Anyway, this was a fun little project that whipped up quickly.  Hm.  Wonder if I could make coasters for my aunt's birthday present?  Wonder what she'd like ... 

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Robes

I thought I'd show off two of the robes I've made from the same pattern. It's amazing how much the fabric changes the look. The pattern is, by this point, practically self-drafted. I think I started with McCall's 2940 but hated how massive it was. There's roomy and comfortable and then there's being consumed by fabric. Even the small was too large to move in. So I began changing it. I narrowed it about 4" at each shoulder, redrafted the armcyc to fit a little more closely, redrafted the sleeve cap to fit, flared a bit at the waist, and shortened it to hip length. And that was the first round of changes. I think I made more after that but before the blue robe was made. So, yeah, I consider it "my" pattern by this point. I figure I've earned it!

Blue Robe

I love this robe. It was originally inteded to be a bridal shower gift for a friend but I finished a little late and we haven't gotten together since. I got married a few months after she did and she bought me some stuff as well and, since we haven't been in the same place at the same time, we both decided to just keep the gifts we would have given to each other. Odd, but it works. :) And I've been wearing this robe to bits! It's fantastic for throwing over a pair of pants and a cami. It's nice enough that I could wear it out but super, super comfortable. I let my DH cut out the tie and it turned out far shorter than it's supposed to be. This is why he plays with computer code rather than wood working or sewing or anything else that requires measurements. :) Still, it works well enough that I haven't felt the need to recut it. Lazy, me? But anyway, LOVE this robe. Need to make more. Many more. And it sewed up in less than an hour thanks to serging all the seams. Gotta love that.

M's Robe

This robe was fun to make because I really got to let the fabric influence the design. Because it had a directional cross-grain weave and decorated borders I tried to make the most of it. The main pieces were cut with the bottom edge on the selvedge. Technically this affected the curve of the hem, making it straight, but the pattern's curve was already so slight that you can't tell. Due to a cutting error the long sleeves became elbow-length. I could have recut them but decided the shorter sleeve looks so good that I wanted to keep it. The sleeve cuffs are cut from the border and give a good weight to the sleeve. The neck band shows off the "wrong" side of the fabric. The belt is similarly made with the "wrong" side out but the border weave makes it hard to see in the picture. Ah, well. It was stunning in real life, if I may say so!

It took something along the order of 18 HOURS to sew this because I (a) had the bright idea to flat fell the seams which took forever and looked so bad I had to seam rip and redo them and (b) because SO MUCH of it was hand-sewn. I wanted it to be so beautiful on the inside that you could wear it inside out if you wanted. Part of doing that meant hand-sewing the band to the inside, stitch by TINY stitch. After seam-ripping my first (machine) attempt. I also blind-hemmed the hem. On the good side, I'm a far better hemmer now! By the end I was really enjoying the process. There's something very peaceful about hand-sewing and now I might be a little addicted. We'll see how long that lasts. :)

I really enjoyed making both gowns and have plans for yet another one in the works. I'll be sure to show it off when I get it made up!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Simplicity Fall Patterns!

I love new patterns. No, seriously, it's a little sad how much a small batch of new patterns can totally make my day. I've even got my little routine down. I'll open up the page and then very carefully just look at the first pattern. I'll click on it, study it, look at the line drawing, sizes offered, fabric, etc, and dream a bit. Then I'll go back and very carefully look at the second, not looking ahead at all, and repeat for each pattern until I've seen them all. And then I'll go back through again.

This probably tells you more about me than I really want you to know. Hm.

Anyway, some new patterns to enjoy. As a whole this wasn't a thrilling release but neither was it horrendous. A good half of the patterns are ones I'd consider making but don't HAVE to have. The rest were ones I won't, for whatever, do anything with but could see others wearing them. So overall a B level collection. Good, not great.

So let's look at this stuff...


While the picture doesn't look all that fantastic, the concept is a good one. The pattern comes sized for three body types, slim, medium, and curvy. There's also "custom fitting directions" included. Hm. I don't make pants but largely because I can only handle so many failures before deciding I like skirts better anyway. So if I DO try pants again, this would be a great pattern to start with. Provided it lives up to the hype!


Every so often I think to myself, "Self, you need a jumper." Then self remembers that self doesn't own any shirts to go under the jumper. So self passes. But at some point self really needs to just get over it and make up a little mini wardrobe that has a shirt, jumper, and skirt. Two outfits from three patterns - not bad. And the jumper is great for wearing when the shirt decides to ditch that very important bust button and I'm already running late. This happens to people besides me, right?


I love vests. I have no idea how to really wear one (hence my utter lack of vests in the wardrobe) but still love them. Maybe adding one to the little wardrobe the I want to make for this coming fall. Assuming, of course, I actually do it. I am a little concerned, however, about chanelling the sexy teacher look. This is my first time teaching an adult class and I want them to be awed by my l33t teaching skillz, not by my, um, other assets. Ahem. So, well, we'll see. On the good side, a vest is an addition, not a necessity, and it only takes a little bit of fabric so it's a great last-minute addition to a wardrobe. And, if it does send the wrong message then I'm sure DH and I can find another use for it. :) As a, um, cleaning rag. Yeah. That's what I meant. What did YOU think I meant? :)


First off, see the picture on the far left? Brown vest and pants with colorful top? Just make the top high necked and you've got my grandmother's wardrobe. Exactly. Now my grandmother is seriously chic but I'm not certain I want to copy her style. At least not at this point in my life. But with that said, I really like the dress and top. Great little jumper and the top's sleeves can be added to the dress to make an nice fall dress. Cute. It's kind of an easy version of Vogue 8411. An easy version with more shaping. Hm. This could be very good.


Too stinkin' cute for words. This almost makes me wish there were small children in my life that I could make cute little embroidered booties for. Of course reality points out that small child will probably have a few younger siblings by the time I'd get around to actually making this. But still. Hm. I wonder how small these go? Because my American Girl dolls could use some nice shoes and they're not going to outgrow my creations before I can get around to making them.


I need an occasion that calls for "old west bordello" dress. I'm tired of white tie, black tie, and casual dress events. Let's see some creativity. Though a Steam Punk art gallery just opened nearby (with Studio Foglio artwork on display!) and they ARE having a closing party later this month ... nah. At least not this time around. Maybe next time. But DH and I DO need to get up there, perhaps this Friday.


Divert your eyes from the sequins and look at the little ukalele - er, guitar - that the guy's holding. See it? That's actually a bag. A bag that you can make. With this pattern. I must have it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Random Monday Thoughts

- Wedding report - M&C's wedding went really well. They kept it low-key and fun and that, in my book, ALWAYS beats lavish and stuffy. The flower girl missed the note that the flower pedals get thrown on the ground, not the people on either side of the aisle. I liked her way better. M looked fantastic, C was so happy he floated. Great food, dancing, and people at the reception. C's mother was incredibly chic in her trim little chipao; unfortunately I didn't get a picture. While I hope that they're having a great time on their honeymoon, I also miss them and look forwards to having them back. It's dull around here without them!

- Sewing machine repairs continue. I reassembled it, which wasn't as easy as you'd think. It's got a drop-in bobbin assembly that will NOT go back in quite right. And, of course, to get to it I need to pull out all the rest of the guts. Sigh. Since I don't cuss in American (never started and figure that, at this point, there's no reason to) DH was suggesting other possible things to say. I DO cuss in Australian and British so that's helped. I have found any word that's short with plosives (b, p, t, k, etc) is highly satisfying to mutter at the machine. Hopefully the next reassembly will be the charm and I can move on to other creative endevors.

- Catching up - After google-stalking a few old college friends I've lost touch with, I discovered that my college boyfriend is going to Guana in a few days. He's a full-timer with HCJB radio, a Christian radio missions agency that's working with people in the most remote areas. From what I gather they do everything from teaching and training locals to healthcare and community development. I'm both proud of him and a little jealous. Here he is traveling the world helping people while I'm "stuck" in TX. :) Oh, well. Still, I am proud - this is the guy who got overwhelmed visiting DC and who (when we were dating) had never flown and really didn't want to. And now he's living in Africa and traveling all over. Good for him! And it's always good to find out I've got good taste in guys, even if it didn't work out. :)

- New sewing friend. A woman in my apt. complex found out I sew and mentioned she wanted to learn but was afraid she'd messed up her machine the first time she tried it. So I dropped by and we had a great time. Her machine runs fine after pulling a bit of thread out from the bobbin area and she's got a great attitude about it all. She wants to do t-shirt quilts, something I've also wanted to do but never got around to trying. I'm looking forwards to seeing her creation and learning stuff from her. It's nice having others who sew nearby.

- Do I WANT people to know I sew? Making M the robe and giving it to her at her bachelorette party meant that I effectively announced my hobby to all the females there. I TRIED to give it to her privately ... didn't work. At the wedding I discovered I've got a reputation now as people were asking me about what I've made, what I can make, and were generally awed by it. Which I maintain is like being awed about riding a bicycle but anyway. I was wearing a dress I'd made and that only exacerbated it. Eep. I kinda liked people not noticing but now that it's out ... we'll see what happens. Sigh.

- Yourself!Fitness is fantastic. Just sayin'. :)

That's it. :) Nothing exciting, just life!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

More robe-ery

I gave the robe to M on Friday during her bachelorette party. She is, as it turns out, every seamstresses' dream recipient. She opened it, gasped, picked it up like it was some priceless artifact, tried to talk, gasped some more, and just turned it around asking, "wait, you MADE this? You made THIS? THIS? This is beautiful, I can't believe... I love ... so perfect ... Color ... beautiful.. YOU MADE THIS???" She tried it on and it looks fantastic, if I may say so. :)

I won't be showing her the pics of it on Elanor (dress form) since it turns out that M's larger than Elanor. It's my fault - since M and I are built proportionally the same, I thought that what fits me would fit her. Forgot about my Napolean complex. She's several inches taller than me but I always think I'm her height. I'm not. Common mistake on my part. So I should have thought about that with M's robe. However, while it didn't fit her the way it fits Elanor, it actually looks better. The front panels don't overlap as much and somehow it really improves the look. So it's good.

In other news, bought another robe pattern from Joann's at their sale to use in the pattern class I'm teaching and am nearly finished fixing the old machine I bought for $35. Also made two bundt cakes for M's reception. So keeping busy.

And now to get ready for M's wedding!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Finished! Finally!

After roughly 18 hours of work, the robe for one of my friends is finally done! I'll talk about it more tomorrow (or Friday, or...) but here's a preview. I'm proud of it. :)