Plum blossom (I think) dress, part 1

I’ve started reconning the dress in this post–spent some time over the last few days tearing the dress apart, particularly last night when I was trying to figure out where to cut the bodice off and such. I spent most of this evening cutting out pieces of trim fabric and, well, only getting it sewed on one side, since a) I didn’t staystitch/clip the back neck curve and had to keep ripping it out and sewing it back down in an attempt to stop bunching until I realized I really did need to clip the curve, b) my original idea to just fold it over didn’t work on the back neck curve, so I had to cut it in half and sew a seam right at the edge, and c) I may be putting a tan strip in the center to connect the two bodice pieces (I suppose I’ll just have to baste it once I get the other side done and see about how it’ll fit in the back, since eventually it’ll zip up there, and whether I still need to take anything in on the front) and I cut it too short. But at least I can see now that the tan contrast will work with it just fine, color wise.
For the record, I’m still not entirely certain whether these are cherry or plum blossoms, though I’m leaning towards plum since that’s what the fruits look more like. And also for the record, I’ve decided I like Google image search much more than Yahoo’s, because in my attempts to find out if plum blossoms are, in fact, pinkish (the one behind my house has always just been pure white), Yahoo kept bringing up porn pictures. With the SafeSearch on. Ew.

First attempts at babywear

First of all, here’s the overalls I finished last Saturday night.

I became friends with the couple I made these for through an obsession with Lord of the Rings, and since Rohan’s a common favorite, I figured a white horse on green would be perfectly appropriate for their newborn little boy (besides, he also happens to be my birthday twin, so I had to make him something! The horse design was taken from a picture of one of the Rohan banners in the movie (far simpler to applique than the more intricate throne room flags, especially on a small surface.)
I finished this fleece hoodie about half an hour ago. This is for a couple at my church I’m friends with, who are expecting their first in May. They’re the most hard-core outdoorsy people I’ve ever met in my life, and introduced me and a couple of my friends to fun activities like snowshoeing and backpacking (I’d never even been camping before my first backpacking trip that they led!) And since they’re not planning on giving it up anytime soon (they’ve already got a system figured for how to bring the baby on-trail with them once they get past the hotter summer months–the dad will carry the majority of the gear, the mom will carry the baby, they’ll use cloth diapers so they can just clean them in boiling water and don’t have to pack out dirty ones–you know, extra weight–etc.), I figure this should give them a nice warmer layer that hopefully will fit just in time for fall backpacking season. Since they’re not finding out in advance whether the baby is a boy or girl, I’m hoping the sagey green is neutral enough that it would work either way.
And now, time to do my first real reconstruction of the Wardrobe Refashion challenge, now that my four-month pledge expires in April… 😛 (I know I had the navy blue shirt, but it’s not like I was turning it into anything new, I was just replacing a few pieces.) Methinks I may be signing up for an additional two months.

progress update

Still no pics of the overalls. But I haven’t been completely unproductive this week. I’m also making a baby fleece hoodie, and all I have left to do on that is sew on the hood and sew in the zipper– I cut it out and got the main body sewed together on Monday night, and last night I got the pockets sewn on and the hem done. I’ve also been painstakingly ripping the trim off of a previously reconned t-shirt so I can recon it again. I liked the concept of it, but since the edges of the resulting tank were all covered in grosgrain ribbon, it proved to be a little stiff and sometimes uncomfortable to wear at the top. Plus I’d prefer to restyle it so that it’s a little longer. So once I get all the trim off, I’ll have to see if I can scrounge up some knit to work with at the thrift store so I can restyle it.

I’m also trying to figure out where to start with my next recon project.
This is a shirtdress I made several years ago that I stopped wearing, partially because the ties ripped out of the back and partially because I decided I didn’t like the style on me. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the print is very Asian-esque, with some kind of fruit (too pink for plum, but the fruits are too large for cherry) blossoms and little dark green people–I think it’s geishas and samurai, but I’m not totally certain. Anyway, since I refuse to pick up on the pink and I couldn’t find a good green to go with, I’ve gotten some tan cotton to work with. The end product I’m envisioning is very similar to this (though I had that picture in my head before I stumbled on the anthropologie dress, really!) It won’t be identical–I’m trying to work out in my head how to get a v-neck look on this with the fabric trim, without it being too low-cut for my comfort. And I may end up with a tunic rather than a dress, since I do like the idea of the 3/4 sleeve with the trim so we’ll see how much of the bottom I need to craft sleeves.

I’m dead-tired, but I’m done.

It’s been hard to find craft time this week. But I managed to finish the baby gift overalls tonight–cut them out on Tuesday, was hoping to start sewing on Wednesday but ended up beginning to tear apart a recon during Lost instead, actually started sewing last night (got the front and back halves each sewn together, and put the applique on the front), and then got the sides seams/facing/crotch snaps and such in tonight. The crotch snaps were a pain. If I end up doing baby pants ever again, I need to figure out a better way to do them because for some reason, the pattern directions were completely not clicking and so I winged it on my own. But it’s done. I just hope it actually fits him at some point (when it’s cool enough to wear long overalls!) Picture will be forthcoming.

a different kind of scrapbook

My thought with the little brown notebook was to use it as a sort of art journal, one that I could keep adding pages too. I made the first page tonight. It’s pretty much half a scrapbook, half a journal– just whatever I want to put down in collage form. Part of what got me into scrapbooking was my lifelong love of making paper collages (I wish I had pictures of the notebooks I used to carry around with me in junior high and high school– my friends used to enjoy taking them during class to see what kind of random phrases were collaged onto them and such), so this is my more grown-up version, I suppose. I’m completely ignoring the acid-free rules on this one, because it’s all my random thoughts and therefore I don’t care about preserving this one. It’s all paper torn out of magazines and such, glued down onto a piece of thin cardboard recycled from a cereal box. (It still buckled a bit, and I need to put it into something to flatten it out for a bit before I make art on the other side.) I’m kind of hoping this no-rules approach will also help me in my regular scrapbooking, to free me up to experiment more. That, and it’s a low-commitment way of doing something that’s (eventually) a little more art and a little less craft. This is probably a little more wordy than I’d do on a regular basis, just a bit of scribbling I did over the summer on some thoughts on the direction of my life provoked by a reunion with college friends. So artistically it’s probably not so great, since the collage is only framing the text, but it’s a start. We’ll see what else happens.

Kimono pjs tutorial

Assembling it here to put on Craftster.

These are the pieces you’ll need. There are two sleeves, two front pieces, a back, the front facing (which goes around the neck and finishes the front opening) and a side tie, which is in two pieces. The front facing can be cut either in all one piece long enough to go around the angled front pieces and the neck on the back, or in two pieces sewn together to make a long enough piece (the seam would be in the center of the back of your neck.) I found it easiest to cut the two front pieces as rectangles and then add the angled cut after.

To give you an idea of the measurements: You want it to be wide enough to wrap around comfortably, without being overly baggy. Many of the measurements came from here, though I made several modifcations:

  1. Measure from the base of your neck to where you want the bottom of your pj top to be, plus allowance for hem and seams (I added about 1.25″ for the two combined): this will be the length of the back and front pieces.
  2. Measure the width of your back from the center of your side over the ribcage from one side to the other. Then add about 4-5 inches (or less, if you want a closer fit), plus allowance for seams. (I did half-inch seams for everything.) For instance, my measurement was 18″, so the piece I cut was 24″. This will be the width of your back piece.
  3. Take your original measurement for the back width and divide in half. Then add several inches (they recommend 5) to each measurement, plus seam allowance. This will be the width of your front. (How much you add depends on how much overlap you want; I used the full five since I’m, shall we say, a little top-heavy. If you’re smaller chested you may want less.)
  4. Measure the length of your arm from the top of your shoulder to about an inch past your wrist; add seam and desired amount of hem. This is the length of your sleeve (the part cut on the fold.) For the width, (how low to the ground the kimono sleeve hangs), this is really personal preference–mine ended up being about 19″ (measured from the fold to where I cut.) Cut this as a regularly shaped rectangle for now.
  5. Take measurement #1 and double it, then measure the width of your neck around the back and add this number. This is the length of your front facing. If you wish, you can divide this number in half and cut it in two pieces, but don’t forget to add seams! The width of this is 5″ (it sounds like a lot, but it will be folded in half for the finished product.)
  6. Cut two ties that, together, will be long enough to wrap around your waist comfortably and tie. My ties were about 32″ long and 5″ wide (finished width is 2″, since these are also folded in half. This measurement includes half-inch seam allowances.)
  7. For the angled cut in the front, stack the two pieces on top of each other. Measure from one side about 6 1/2″ (or however wide you want your shoulder seam to be). Then make a straight cut from there to however low you want the V-neck on the long side (mine ended up being about 18″ from the bottom, or about a 15″ line on the angle. I know, this is a lot of geometry, I apologize!)
  8. For the cut into the sleeve pieces, with the two rectangles still folded in half, measure about 9″ down from the top of the fold, and 3″ in. Cut a rectangle out from here down to the cut edge.

Now you’re ready to begin sewing.

Step 1: Sew the front pieces to the back at the shoulder seams. Make sure the two angled sides face inward. Cut the curve for the neck out of the back piece (about the shape of the white line in the darker blue piece.)

Step 2: With the pieces still folded, mark the center at the more narrow end. Open out the two sleeve pieces. Line up the center with the sleeve seams, and sew to the main body.

Step 3: If you cut the front facing piece in two pieces, sew them together at the short ends now. With right sides together, sew the long side all along the inner edge of the front and around the back of the neck (where the dark purple is.) Turn in the seam allowance on the opposite side of the front facing, fold the remaining front facing in half with wrong sides together, and sew it down.

Fold a tie piece in half longways with right sides together, then sew it into a long tube. Turn the tube right side out, sew one end closed. Repeat with the other tie piece. Baste these two pieces (stacked on top of each other) to one side, at about the level of your waist or wherever it’ll be most comfortable for you.

Step 4 (optional): If you’re going to use trim, sew it down along the seam between the front facing and the body, and to the edges of the sleeves about 2 1/2″ in. (See pink lines.)

Step 5: fold front to back with right sides together, then sew seams along sides and edges of sleeves. (Make sure the ties are folded towards the inside when you do this!) Turn right side out, hem sleeves and bottom, and you’re done!

You’d put this on just like a wrap shirt–overlap the front the desired amount, then wrap one tie around the front and one tie around the back and tie together as tight or loose as you wish.

Thoughts on creativity and blogging

I spent some time today catching up on the crafty blogs that I read, and found a fun link from Cutting Edge Stitches n’ Seams. I mean, downloadable clothes patterns that don’t suck? Just need to figure out if they’re free or not.

I’ve been spending some time lately pondering why I do certain things. It seems to me that creativity, for me, is either a way of life, an addiction, or perhaps a little bit of both. And I guess sometimes it gets me in over my head. I’m especially pondering in regards to my sewing. I’ve realized that, when it comes down to it, there’s not really much I actually need in the way of clothes. Which is a bit unfortunate, since not only is that my favorite thing to sew, it’s not like I can just channel my apparent need to constantly have something going on into other things. Someday I’ll have my own place to decorate and will have plenty to occupy myself, but I’m not there yet. So it’s making me wonder if sewing is something I should cut back on, or at least try to focus on ways to stretch these projects out so I don’t overfill my closet again– more complicated techniques, trying to come up with my own patterns instead of rely on commercial, take the time to make the finished seams look more like storebought clothes, etc. The other thing is, I have a lot of things already to make. Refashion pile aside, I have at least an entire bin full of fabric bought with specific projects in mind. So I need to figure out how to balance getting the things I already have done and my apparent over-accumulation of stuff.

Why I scrapbook is easy enough to figure out. I’m a born journaler, and I love taking pictures, and one of my favorite art forms growing up was collaging things. It’s only natural I’d end up uniting the three. I have to admit that part of my ponderings on cutting back my sewing for awhile is motivated by the fact that I still have a rather significant portion of stuff that still needs to get into an album dating back to grad school. I could easily stay on one or the other of these things full-time, and I often question what I’m doing having two such time-consuming and supply-heavy crafty hobbies. (While they’re not the only things I do craftwise, they seem to get the heaviest focus.) And yet somehow, I’m not willing to give either up. And they’re beginning to cross over a bit for me– I find myself using my machine to sew paper or photos down on my scrapbook pages, or making minialbums to chronicle my sewing projects (it’s nice to see that I’ve improved a lot since high school!)

I wonder about keeping this blog too, since other than the occasional Wardrobe Refashionista, it’s pretty obvious that I’m the only one reading this. But it’s an interesting exercise for me, chronicling these projects as they go and how my ideas change as things happen (or don’t). So I suppose that as long as I enjoy it, no harm in taking up the internet space, right?

This is my brain on phlegm.

Nothing but simple projects for me today.

First of all, the Bombay Tunic. This really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did. Of course, I finished it in about five minutes tonight, since all I had to do was trace over where I messed up and did white instead of silver paint. The design was shamelessly borrowed from here. (And isn’t this tunic great? I didn’t have to make a single stitch!)

This was my other project tonight, a notebook of sorts that I made from a free fabric sample given to my mom that she didn’t want, a piece of corrugated cardboard packaging that otherwise would have gone into the recycle bin, a ribbon that I think was used to wrap a gift, and some paper already in my stash. I think I’m going to have to replace the ribbon though, because I barely had enough to tie it and there’s not even pages in it yet! I want to be able to add pages gradually. This definitely looks better than my last bookmaking attempt… of course, then I had actual pages.


My attempt to get that linen tunic embellished this weekend wasn’t entirely successful. I started it on Friday night, got the design drawn out and was going over it with the paint pen, and it was going fine. Then the paint pen died. Which made me sad, because it was rather new and I’d only used it for one small project for the Stargate swap.

I actually had time to go to Joann’s today, so I got a new one. I didn’t realize until I got home that I’d actually gotten white glitter, not silver glitter. In my defense, the caps looked very similar and my head’s all stuffed up. Of course, the actual color was written on the back on the UPC. Oops.

I did, however, also manage to procure fabric for my two baby gifts, as well as a pattern that will work perfectly for both. Now I just have to figure out how to alter the overalls so I can do the diaper-access snaps in the crotch…

Not much craft progress otherwise, lately, though I did get the remainder of my photos sorted and started the journaling for my Chile album tonight.

overboard as usual (and slightly overwhelmed)

Since I had no time to sew the other night (or this entire week other than Sunday so far, really) I decided to see what I’ve got in my various scattered refashion piles. After bringing them all together (mostly, since I know I have a dress in desperate need of redoing floating around here somewhere), this is what I ended up with: a pile of clothes as tall as my bed. Some things are from my closet, some are things I’ve gotten from thrift stores with the express purpose of refashioning, some are already in various stages of being ripped apart in preparation to make them into something else, some only need a little resizing or other minor tweaks to get them wearable, all are unfinished. It’s difficult to know where to start with a pile like this, especially since I also have a rather significant pile of pieces of fabric that I bought with specific purposes in mind, several of which I’d prefer to get finished while it’s still cool enough to wear them, plus two baby gifts to buy materials for and sew…and then there’s the entire scrapbook from Chile to assemble plus all my other usual being behind on my scrapbooks. Yikes. So I think my strategy right now is going to be, start with the royal blue bit near the top since that only involves embellishing, not even sewing, and will therefore likely be a good post-teaching Friday night project. Then from my fabric stack, I have this jacket to make with some yummy brocade that, given the lighter color scheme, will probably work well for early spring as well. So I could maybe find some time to cut that out on Saturday after work and all is done, we’ll see. Maybe on Sunday I can make it to Joanns to do some baby fabric shopping…and, well, maybe allow something new for myself as well, because one of my friends gave me a gift card to there for my birthday. Maybe they’ve got some corduroy on sale– my leather winter jacket is getting horribly worn out, so I may bravely attempt to make a winter coat for next year. The challenge will be to see if I can make it stylish enough to wear for things like the concerts I play in, and thick enough to keep me something resembling warm (even more of a challenge, since I’m allergic to wool.) As for the Chile album, maybe this weekend or tonight once I’m done teaching or something, I can start typing up the text for that.
All this, and I’m still seriously contemplating making another DHD cd case (this time for myself).