Monday, May 16, 2016

Current To-Dos, May 2016

I have a few projects that are on my short list, all of which will be very useful this summer.

I bought this oh-so-soft rayon from IndieSew not too long ago. It's a loose, almost gauzy weave. It's very lightweight and I imagine will be very nice to wear on a hot day. I'm really leaning towards buying the Sutton Blouse pattern by True Bias, but I might see if I have something else I already own that will work well. I want something with sleeves so it's more work-appropriate but I need something that works with my yardage, too.

Well, that's not an exciting picture, but I also bought this olive twill on a whim to get free shipping for my last fabric order. I'm going to make a pair of short based on the Colette Clover pattern. I've done it before but they're weren't super wearable. I'm hoping to learn enough from the Craftsy pants sloper class to nail it this time.

And finally, I bought this coral rayon challis (link) to make another summery top. There will be more info on this in a few weeks or so. I'm very happy with this fabric so far. It washed up very nicely. I haven't started cutting it or anything, so we'll see how it behaves, but so far so good.

I feel like I'm getting a better sense of what types of patterns and fabrics work for me lately, even though I haven't been sewing much. I've slowly been working through the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns and have been trying to be very mindful of what I buy. My fabric stash is mainly fabric that I have very specific plans for or really, really like. I could probably minimize it even more, but I'm not quite ready for that.

Monday, May 9, 2016

I won a giveaway!

I entered the Itch to Stitch Birthday Giveaway after reading about it on Scruffy Badger's blog. To my surprise, I won! The grand prize was a lovely bundle of fabrics, The Shirtmaking Workbook, 3 Craftsy classes, gift certificates to Girl Charlee, Upcraft Club, and Indie Sew, plus a gift certificate to The Fabric Store in LA which I'm dying to visit when we take our Disneyland/LA vacation this fall.

The fabrics:

Dolce & Gabbana boiled wool printed with butterflies and flowers
I have about 2.5 yards of this fabric. The reverse is a marled gray knit. I'm not totally sold on the floral, but I could always use it wrong side out and then the print would take the place of a fun lining (which wouldn't be needed). I do like the colors, though, so maybe I'll use it right side out. Still undecided on this.

Cocoon poncho
Draped vest
Swing coat

I think any of these styles would work with the wool. The vest would work well with the double-faced fabric but I'm not sure if it's a style I'd wear often. The poncho would be super cozy and would be a way to use the print that I'd be comfortable with. The coat would probably have to be shorter, but I think the wool would lend itself to a simple, unlined style like this.

Wrong side
Chanel matelasse
This fabric is just fun. It's not what I think of when I think of matelasse; it's sort of a crinkled/pleated texture with metallic dots in a random pattern all over it. I'm thinking of making this into a skirt. The structure is unlike anything I've sewn with before, so I'm still debating the best way to work with it. It's times like this when a dress form would come in handy (along with some idea of how to drape and create patterns.) Anyways, this is a fabric I'll hang onto, but it's not at the top of my to-use list.

Viscose challis
I want to make this into a cute set of summer PJs. Again, this print isn't totally my style; although I really like it, I can't see it fitting into my daily wardrobe. I'd love a pair of matching PJs, though, and this lightweight challis would be cool and comfy for summer.

I have tendencies to hoard things, so I haven't used all my credits, but I did sign up for and start the Beginner Serging Craftsy class by Amy Alan, and just signed up for the Suzy Furrer Patternmaking & Design: The Pants Sloper class. I picked out the Mila shirt pattern by Itch to Stitch and the Archer by Grainline from Indie Sew (one of my new favorite shops). I also got the Jacqueline jacket pattern by Itch to Stitch (Kennis makes some cute patterns!) and the Satya romper pattern by Jennuine Design from Upcraft Club. Upcraft Club was very helpful when I (hoarder-like) didn't use my credit quickly enough and let me use it anyways - thank you! I was introduced to some great sewing resources, especially for indie sewing patterns, through this giveaway and now my sewing to-do list has at least doubled!

And now I am off to spend what's left of naptime dyeing a piece of fabric to sew into an onbu carrier.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Babywearing Sewing

My daughter has wanted to be held a LOT since she was born. Babywearing has been a huge help. I have under-utilized it for sure, but I've learned a lot along the way. I've recently sewn/started sewing my own babywearing gear for fun and to save money.

The first thing I made was a linen ring sling, but I just don't think ring slings are for us. I gave it to a friend.

Then, I recently sewed up a reverse onbu, aka a ruckbu. This page from BWI is a good quick overview of types of baby carriers. An onbuhimo is similar to a mei tai (and I love mei tais), but has rings at the waist that the shoulder straps are threaded through instead of separate waist straps; a reverse onbu has rings at the shoulders and straps that thread through from the waist.

I used half of a Mahogany brand jacquard tablecloth (originally 60x120), dyed it, and sewed it up. After the fabric was washed and dried, it measured 28" by 104". I only used the tablecloth fabric for the basic construction (no internal panel). I used bar tacking for reinforcement on the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are actually too long - I haven't bothered to shorten them, but the rings end up right around my armpit which is much lower than I'd like. The waist band is shown as two pieces below but I actually just cut one long piece and sewed it into the body panel with multiple rows of topstitching across it all. I lost a bit of length that way but I have more than enough length in the straps. I never use them for reinforcing passes - the point of using an onbu, for us, is for quick use. Put it on, tighten the straps, done.

I also cut two 12" x 12" pieces of fleece for shoulder padding and two 6" x 7" pieces of fleece for leg padding; two pairs of small aluminum rings from were used on the straps. I used 1/2" seam allowances on the straps, 1" seam allowance on the body.

I used a variety of sources for my basic construction. The only part I did differently than the other full tutorials I've seen online was the shoulder strap construction. I've seen similar commercial carriers, and it's similar to using webbing on a buckle carrier but with fabric. I made two tubes (from the 4" x 18" pieces in the diagram) that I attached the rings onto. Then I stitched those along the full length of the shoulder straps. For the padded shoulder straps, I did this:

  • Fold each fleece shoulder padding piece in quarters to make two 3" x 12" pieces
  • Tack each end with a few stitches to keep fleece in shape
  • Lay one padding piece on the wrong side of one shoulder strap, aligning edges with the seam allowance and the center of shoulder strap, 1/2" from the end
  • Stitch down the center of the padding to secure it in place
  • Fold shoulder strap right sides together; sew along long edge and one short edge (just outside of the padding)
  • Clip corners, turn right side out, smoothing out fleece as needed; topstitch along three edges leaving the end with raw edges open
  • (Next step would be to attach ring straps)

I used my presser foot to stitch just to the side of the fleece
 This method of padding the straps saves you from having to stuff the fleece into a tube of fabric. As far as the double-strap idea, I didn't like the idea of just having a tiny strap holding the rings onto the shoulder straps, either aesthetically or mechanically, and since I added padding, it would be a little trickier to attach the rings directly to the shoulder straps. I think you could just end the padding sooner, then wrap the unpadded portion over the rings and stitch securely in place, either with an x-box or with 3 lines of stitching like you'd use on a ring sling.

Finished onbu:

Right side - as seen when worn

I also have a wrap that I bought to convert to a wrap-strap mei tai, then decided to create a half-buckle instead, but am not quite ready to make. I really love the wrap - Kokoskaa Royal Quill Gilia, a Tencel blend - and although I just don't think I'll get as much use out of a shortie as I would a HB, I really don't want to mess it up. I have no extra wrap if something is off on my measurements. I just started cutting up a tablecloth I had but don't like to test out my size, shape, etc. This is the "muslin" stage of making a carrier.

I also have a carrier waiting for me at the post office. I wasn't home to sign for it - I hate when that happens! Now it's the weekend so I have to wait until Monday to pick it up. Finger crossed it will be a replacement for my Tula (which is OK but I don't love), and then I can sell the Tula. I'll probably put that up for sale as is, but if it doesn't sell, I might dye it and make it a little more interesting. As if I need another project. The question there is what direction to take it - my top theme contenders are Peter Pan, Wicked (possibly a Peter Pan/Wicked dual option although that's an odd mashup when you say it together), Luna Lovegood, or a rainbow galaxy dye. I think the Luna will take too much time but is my favorite idea. Of course, I might end up doing something else entirely. We'll see.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

An update in no particular order

The most important update is that my husband and I now have a daughter! She's amazing, we're in love, etc. etc. Also, to make a long story short, I had two miscarriages before getting pregnant with her, and we also found out that we are carriers of a rare genetic disorder. I know that many people go through pregnancy loss, and on the off chance that someone reading this needs to talk things over or wants information (I'm no expert but I can probably point you towards resources), please send me a message.

Results of the years-ago stashbusting sewalong:

* Blue cotton jersey was sewn into a self-drafted top. The yoke and sleeves are one piece, sleeves are hemmed with a band, then the front bodice is (obviously) gathered. I quite like most of it, but the bottom hem has killed me; I have never figured out a way to make it lie flat. I think a band would help but I just haven't gotten around to trying to figure out how wide and long to make it and actually do it. I hate cutting knits. I also did an almost-good job with the neckline band except for a few spots where I was off with the topstitching. Oh well. It's wearable, comfortable, and I can replicate it.

* Lavender silk was sewn into a Sorbetto (sans pleat) and worn to see The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. Nathaniel Stampley has a beautiful voice and I could have listened to him sing every single song.

* The navy wool was sewn into a short-sleeved Laurel dress. It has been worn to a Christmas party, the Nutcracker ballet, and most recently to see Wicked. I lined it with a really pretty coral habotai that I originally bought to use as a lining for a Lady Grey coat, but I totally messed up the sandy tan silk seen in the original post because I apparently do not know how to cut silk. That lining was my nemesis. I also don't really know how to line things. It was a mess. I do have stabilizer that I forgot to use, and I didn't use a single trick that I've read to cut silk - somehow I just expected it to behave, and when it didn't, I just pushed forward. Next time I'll do better. The wool was a dream to sew, though.

* I donated the black and white linen. I also donated the colorful ITY. I didn't like either one with my coloring which is something I've gotten way more picky about in the last few years. I'm also really trying to pare down my "stuff" and not keep things that I'm not going to use and love.

I have a nice gray wool for a Lady Grey but haven't started anything but pattern tracing. I'm planning to dye a rayon satin from Dharma Trading Co. to use for the lining. It might be a long time before I get around to it.

I won some fabric in the Itch to Stitch birthday giveaway! I will give that its own post.

I have a pile of patterns I'd love to sew up but very little time for sewing. My most recent makes are for babywearing (post to follow). I have sewing plans - as always - and hopefully can make more time to sew. I feel like it took me a solid year and half after my little one was born to get into a relatively solid routine that gives me a little bit of time to work on my own projects. I work at a snail's pace, though. That gives me some time to document the backlog of things I've made in the last 2 1/2 years (which isn't a huge amount). Up next: the babywearing makes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Soft Mini Elephant

I wanted to make something small to add to a baby shower gift recently, and I thought about making a soft stuffed elephant. I ended up finding this Chinese pattern online, which has pieces for two different sizes - this is the larger one. I used Chrome to translate the page for me, but the pictures are much more helpful for figuring out what to do and in what order. There were a few tricky spots, but it was a relatively quick thing to make, and I think it's totally cute! I'm thinking of making a few more of these and stocking them in the shop. If nothing else, a few more people might be getting these as gifts!

Lime for scale

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Laurel Ideas

So these may not be the best pictures, but they get the idea across. When the Laurel pattern first came out, I started dreaming up different ways to use the pattern because it's such a nice, simple starting point. I'd really love to make another version or two for fall/winter, especially in a tunic or dress length. I'm still working on that whole stashbusting thing, though, so I need to get myself in gear to use up some more stashed fabric instead of buying more. I have to confess, I did buy fabric for a maxi dress that I made but haven't photographed yet. It was something I couldn't make with stashed fabric, though, and was something I "needed" for a wedding and for a vacation - so that's my excuse.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chambray Laurel Blouse

I don't know if I ever use the word "blouse" in real life... something about it feels weird to say, but I typed it just now without even thinking about it (well, until after I'd read it there on the screen).

But on to the blouse! I bought this chambray two years ago I think? I made this dress from it, wore it once or twice because I was on vacation and had nothing else to wear, and put it away - it was WAY too big, and even though I'd made a muslin, I apparently didn't know what I was looking for in that muslin and felt like I was wearing a maid's uniform or something. I had plans to just take it in, but those changed. It's currently sitting on a shelf in my office half-sewn and altered like nobody's business.

All that to say, I had a big chunk of fabric left over that I really liked and wanted to make something with but wasn't sure what. When the Laurel pattern came out, I decided I really wanted to enter the contest and came up with all sorts of ideas. I decided to actually use fabric that I already owned though (stashbusting!) and made the blouse version in the longest length I could with the fabric I had.

Since the chambray has very little drape but a lot of body, it works decently as a shift. I think I'd choose something with more drape next time because my hips are a size up from my waist and that extra width kind of stands away from my body more than I'd like. This fabric also frays like crazy, so I went ahead and put bias binding on all the seams except the armscye seams, but I think I need to do some extra finishing on those, too. The bias binding came from a vintage pillowcase I thrifted a while back; I love the little bit of pretty floral that I get to see on the inside of the shirt. This is probably the best-detailed garment I've made.

Since it's such a simple shape and straightforward to sew, I didn't rush myself through like I tend to do on certain parts. I set in the sleeves by hand, because I was having trouble getting the chambray to ease in correctly by machine. I had altered the shoulder seams after cutting everything out so they didn't fit together the way they should have anyways.

I also added this detachable Peter Pan collar that I made from a vintage handkerchief. It was in good shape except on the edges, where there was some significant fraying. I made a template and cut the collar from the handkerchief and silk organza, then sewed them together with a little French seam. I've worn it once, and it flips up while I'm walking because I just pinned it into the shoulder seams. It's not really my style anyways, I wasn't sure if Peter Pan collars were "me" and I've decided they're not.

Fabric: Indigo chambray (cotton/poly blend) from the Lisette Spring 2011 fabric collection

Pattern Changes: Made it a little longer (as long as my fabric allowed, which was only a couple of inches). Took in the center back, more so at the top tapering off around the middle. Let out the shoulder seam at an angle - 5/8" at neckline to only about 1/4" at armscye. Rough SBA by cutting out top half smaller size than usual and grading out at waist and hips.

New &/or Improved Techniques: Bias binding inside seams. I didn't do a double-fold, the sheeting is so tightly woven that the bias isn't going to fray any time soon. I just folded it over the seams and stitched a zig-zag down either the center or overlapping the tape's edge. Drafted a Peter Pan collar.

What I Like: The overall look and comfort of this top. It doesn't feel huge, but it's roomy enough that I could eat a big dinner in it!

What I'd Change: Not much. I'd love to make it again in a different fabric, play around with the pattern, etc. I'll make sure to cut out the correctly fitted pattern pieces next time, I didn't make a muslin for this so I altered as I went. The neckline is a little higher than I'd like.

It pulls a little around the armscyes
The back (and my photobomber)
You can see how the back fit isn't great below the waist
Played around with belting it, but the chambray gets deep wrinkles instead of gathering nicely at the belt-line
Side note: I missed the deadline by about 30 minutes for the contest - boo to my bad time management! But I stashbusted AND got a cute top, so that's good enough. And there were a ton of gorgeous entries in there!