Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Award and A Fun Green Skirt

Thank you Sarah for the Kreative Blog award! I'll do some indepth research this afternoon finding out if any of you creative bloggers hasn't gotten one yet and pass it on. :)

In other news, I got piece #4 of my SWAP finished! Just ... 7 more pieces to go. Gulp. Don't think about it, just keep pressing on... And fortunately the last bunch (save for the pesky jacket) should be easy. Knit yoga pants, another skirt from this pattern, a couple more cowlneck sweaters, and a handful of quick knit shirts should do it.

Anyway, the skirt.

(review copied wholesale from my Pattern Review review.)

From Simplicity 3754

Pattern Description:
A set of denim-style skirts with narrow and flared options. Different lengths and trim make the pattern very versatile.

Pattern Sizing:
True to size! Yay, simplicity!

I measure a 14 but have learned to beware of the Big 4's assumption that I like ten inches of ease in fitted stuff and so traced and pinfitted a 12. It was just this side of snug (meaning that, amazingly enough, this pattern seems to run true to size!) so I went with it but sewed 3/8" side seams, effectively giving myself an extra inch. I also, during the pinfitting stage, pinched out a bit from the back waistband and skirt and, from that, redrafted the back waistband to be a little smaller and added darts to the bottom back of the skirt, all to account for my swayback.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it did! I found it to be a very cute, very well designed pattern. Great job, simplicity! Granted, I would have liked to see approximate lengths of the skirts, instead of the line drawings they have with no point of reference. Ah, well, can't have everything.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, though I tended to just use them when doing something I'd never done before. Like the faux fly front. Tip: bypass their faux way of doing it and just do it the right way. I've never put in an actual fly front but I've been told it's very easy, especially when using Sandra Benzine's (did I spell that right? Credit the right person?) method. I'll do that next time since the faux fly, while looking right, feels very odd when I'm zipping it. Like I short-sheeted my zipper opening.

Another tip: the belt carriers are not too long. They look it when you just lay them flat on the waist band and they overlap by a good 1/2". That's because they need to puff out a bit to hold the belt. Lesson learned. I'll need to do a little deconstruction and fixing to get that right. My excuse - it was 2:30 in the morning when I got to that step. I'm just thankful my finger isn't a part of this skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Great fit and style and comes together very quickly. A lot of look for a low investment. LOVE the deep pockets, very handy! And the little criss-cross belt carriers are a great detail. Dislike? The faux fly front. That's really it, everything else was and is great! Oh, and for those not sewing on an all-metal workhorse, this does have you sewing through (pauses to count) 8 layers of material at two points. My lovely vintage Singer slant-o-matic handled it without slowing down but I know my previous machine would have gone on strike, especially with this thick corduroy.

Fabric Used:
Chunky cotton corduroy from Joann's. Not the highest quality but a great, bright color and not something I was going to cry too hard over if it didn't work out.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The pattern has you use the body fabric for all of the pattern but that would have been major bulk with this material, so I cut the pocket lining and facings out of a gorgeous bright pink and green paisley cotton. You can't see it when I wear the skirt but I know it's there and it makes me happy. I omitted the bias binding on the pocket edge - no need - and understitched and topstitched at every opportunity. For just a few minutes investment it adds a great finished look to the garment. Beyond that (and adding the back dart as described many sections ago), I actually left the pattern alone. Strange for me.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
In a heartbeat! This was piece #4 for the SWAP I'm working on and I still have another two bottoms to go. I'm seriously considering making this up in a longer version from some tropical weight wool I have. Very flattering, very fast to throw together (4 hours from pulling out the pattern to wearing it and that includes the 45 minutes of messing up the zipper three separate times - it'll be faster next time) and very wearable.

What more can I say? It's a great, great pattern! Unfortunately Simplicity's website says it's out of print so Ebay or an understaffed Joann's might be your best bet for picking it up. Seriously what's with discontinuing such a great pattern? Ah, well, just means I'll have to keep up my habit of hording them at pattern sales.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robes in progress and Bath Tea Recipe

Yesterday I spent a nice afternoon working on two of three more robes that'll go up in my store soon. And since I went through an inexplicable blue period last November and STILL haven't sold off any of that stuff (what's with the blue hate, people?) I went with a round of pretty, feminine pink. 'Sides, it ties in well with Valentines day and I'm all about taking advantage of a materialistic, gift oriented holiday. And, yes, I'm a bit of an unromantic cynic. It's probably some level of a cosmic joke that DH and I first started dating on Valentine's Day - payback for my past criticisms of the day. I'll take it, I figure I won in the end. :) But on with the robes, these are the first mediums I've made and they went together without a problem. Thank goodness, I'm always a little worried that my math, mesurements, and all other precautions are all somehow off. It's happened before.

I went with a soft coral pink and white with one robe - very restful, I thought. The pink is from (LOVE that place!) and the white is oooooold stash from Joann's finally getting used up. It has the faintest of patterns embossed on it which seems to give it some nice depth, not that you can see it from here.

This is my favorite. The body fabric is from a cute little quilting store near Austin that we stopped in on while visiting my grandparents over Thanksgiving. Sooo soft and smooth and great colors. The red velvet was a freebie from a friend getting rid of extra fabric and, while the backside isn't that great, the face is so very soft and, with the way the collar, tie, and cuffs are designed only the face side shows. Works!

I still have to press, hem, and topstitch them and clean up the threads but at least you can see what they look like! I'm proud of them.

And in honor of me actually getting those done, here's a bath tea recipe I recently concocted (thinking of adding a few of those to the shop) and am now completely in love with. It's good for aches, dry skin, clearing out sinuses, and generally feeling better about cold, cloudy days.

Winter Remedy Bath Tea

1 cup instant oatmeal
1 T ginger (dried best, powdered works, fresh adds a great zing but doesn't store so, if you use it, keep it separate and add right before putting in bath)
1 T basil
10 drops Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil (similar essential oil may be used, if you don't have any olive oil might work as a substitute. Worth trying.)

Mix together and store in airtight container. To use put ~ 1/4 cup of the mix in the center of a square of scrap fabric (unbleached, loose weave muslin is best) and tie it up securely. Throw in a newly drawn bath and enjoy! While you can just let it sit in the tub it's rather fun to "squish" it since the oatmeal gets wonderfully mushy inside the little bag.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Busy January!

So while I was still recovering from a cold, this semester hit. Hard. I have some absurd number of major papers (seven? eight?) to do this semester plus trying to push my Etsy store into an actual business, business license and all. And teach sewing classes. Sigh. So much to do!

So that's my excuse for not posting. It doesn't mean I don't have lots to share, though!

Last weekend I FINALLY got around to hanging this beautiful quilt my best friends made me for my wedding:

I've been putting it off for a while, partially because it required buying the rod, hanging the rod, and hand sewing a tube to the back (er, three smaller tubes in this case) to hang it from. It was worth the effort, though, since it really makes the room look nice and lets others admire all the work my friends put into it. It also serves as a hiding spot for the cutting table that's currently out. Those black legs screw off easily and the whole thing slips behind the quilt, freeing up a LOT of room in our tiny apartment. That table also serves as my tracing table, ironing table (with protective cover) and sewing class table so it gets a lot of work. And it's still looking good! I love Ikea furniture.

Also this weekend I hit up the bit Joann's sale and look what came home with me - a whole bolt of lovely gridded interfacing! Mine for just $15, with coupon. Happy!

Now that I have nice tracing paper I took the chance to redesign my basic robe pattern. I really hope to make this my major seller in my etsy store and I have some other top-secret plans for it beyond that. For the redesign I started by blockifying the robe, basically making it out of all rectangles. The rectangle dimentions were determined by measuring my existing and (and disintegrating) pattern, made from small sheets of tissue paper taped together. It seemed like a good idea at the time. From there I started pinning and adjusting it on Elanore, my dressform. Here it is in the first steps of that:

From there I adjusted the shoulder slope and width, carved out the back neckline and armcycs, and worked out the perfect overlap for the front. Oh, and added some flare at the sides. The sleeves took a little longer since it's been years since I drafted one of those from scratch. A lot of playing around and pinning and I like it! I made up a test out of some lovely pink rose cotton I'd just gotten from and I really think this new pattern is a good improvement. I'm not sure it's noticable to anyone else but me, but I think the robe lies just a little nicer and swings just a little better. And this would be a great place to show the old and new side by side. Which would require taking a picture of them. Hm, must do.

That was a few days ago. Today I sized up my robe pattern so that I can finally start offering them in a size other than small. It took a while but it really wasn't that hard. I got a sample of RTW sizes from various online sources (pretty much whichever came up first when I googled "size charts clothing women") and used measurments gleaned from those to figure out how much to size up. The exact how-tos were borrowed from this utterly fantastic tutorial from

I considered talking through the process but, really, that site tells you exactly what I did with good, clear pictures to boot. Anyway, after following those easy directions I have a medium robe pattern to test out later this week!

Until then I still have a ream of reading to do and some Greek to analyze. Sigh. It never ends!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas goodies

I'll post pics once my camera and camera cord are in the same state (sigh). But it was a good Christmas for sewing goodies. I haven't spent much time with the in-laws so they were happy to have some hobby to latch onto for gift-giving purposes. Additionally, DH's paternal grandparents both passed away this year (very, very expected but still sad) and I was given a number of his grandmother's old sewing items. Those, of course, were extra special gifts.

Anyway, the short list of new goodies that I can't wait to play with
- Kit for a simple, beautiful purse, put together by MIL. She did a great job. :)
- Vintage McCall pattern for, of all things, a gingerbread house. Made from ginger bread. Must scan and post picture.
- Sewing scissors and thimble broach, from DH's late grandmother.
- Sew Simple magazine for Dec/Jan. Nice magazine, though I see why Threads is the more popular. Still, some great little projects in it.
- Patternmaking book from my parents. Very helpful!
- Clear ruler and collection of fabric marking pens and pencils from good friend. I'm always loosing my pens so that was extra appreciated!

Unfortunately a cold has knocked me out a bit. More time to look through the goodies but no energy to do much with them. Sigh. Lots of orange juice, chicken soup, and tea and I should be better this weekend! Just in time for classes to start up. I'll miss being on break!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Well drat

So I somehow managed to delete all my blogroll links. I guess I needed to go through them anyway and add a few more, especially those from group #3 that I've missed, but I didn't want to do it today. Oh, well. That's life and computers!