It was worth a shot…

The good news: I finished a top today. The bad news: Turns out it’s a fail project.

I almost didn’t make this shirt. When I was starting to sew it together, I noticed that there was a crease down the front where the fold had been, which looked slightly discolored. I don’t know how old this fabric is, because someone in my church donated it to my mom for the quilts she used to make for an Indian orphanage that the church supports. It wasn’t good fabric for quilts, so she passed it on to me. I didn’t notice the fold mark when I was cutting it out, and figured it would be ok for the raincoat lining, but more obvious down the front of a shirt. Then I figured maybe I was making too much of it, and plowed on anyway. I guess that was a mistake, because this really doesn’t look good!

I should have known that the waist was too big, because I’ve made this pattern before, and just forgot to alter the pattern afterwards. If it was just the waist, I’d go back and take it in some. But the odd thing is, the neck and armholes are also way too tight. I can barely squeeze this thing over my head, and it’s definitely not comfortable to wear because it cuts into my armpits. So I’m thinking it’s a combination of a bad fabric choice and having to cut it out on the floor while being “helped” by a 70-pound dog.

So I’m thinking I’ll just toss it instead of even donating it to the thrift store, because it just doesn’t look good enough to even try to salvage. But hey, at least I got some practice on making some nice Hong Kong seams. The inside looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Mental note to self: Tweak this pattern to make the waist less loose, and try on the original Pendrell again to see if I can figure out what the heck happened to that neckline/armhole area!

Ending up with a project fail is never fun. So to cheer myself up some, I did some knitting, and came up with a game plan for the next couple of months. One way or another, whether I get a new job or the season at my retail job starts up again, I’ll be back at work (and lacking much of my daytime sewing time) in about a month and a half. So I think what I’m going to do soon is cut out a whole bunch of stuff, package it up with the notions and interfacing and everything, and just have kits ready to grab and go for when I do have time to sew. So here’s a list in mostly no particular order of the next several things I have in mind for end of winter/spring sewing:

1. Brown cord jacket, from a Burda magazine which month I can’t remember right now so I can’t find a picture. Rather than make a muslin, my plan is to cut the seam allowances and sleeve hems extra wide and baste/fit as I go. (And hopefully remember to alter the pattern accordingly!) I think I have everything traced out for this one, and I know I have the buttons. This one will be first, actually, because I won’t even have to change the thread in my sewing machine after the raincoat is done! (Which will hopefully be by early next week, since I have space to waterproof again and can therefore start sewing on it again tomorrow.)

2. This jacket, in that lightweight blue corduroy + floral lining that I picked up back in December. I need to trace out the pattern, and I’ll probably need to get buttons, because it doesn’t look like I have anything on hand. Again, I’m going to fit this one as I go.

3. This top, in a yet-to-be-determined knit from my stash. (The long-sleeved version, since I’m not a fan of those weird shoulder pad ruffles on the short-sleeved one.)

4. The Colette Beignet skirt, in a red organic cotton twill that I picked up online from Mood a couple of years ago. The intent was always to make a skirt with it, I just didn’t know which one until recently. I just hope I can squeeze it all in, because I think it calls for a liiiiiiiittle bit more yardage than I have. I already have lining fabric, but I will need buttons, because I know I don’t have red buttons. Let alone a dozen of them!

5. The Jeans. I found my test muslin from the online class I took over a year ago, finally, so I’ll have to try that on and check the fit. And make sure I altered the pattern if it’s good. And if it is good, I’m definitely ready to cut those out and hopefully end up with a well-fitting pair!

6. The blouse from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook, in a black and white print that I picked up recently at Joann’s. (I’d been eyeing this one since early December, and it was almost gone, so I treated myself.) I need to trace this pattern out first. I’m considering changing the sleeve to some kind of shorter flutter sleeve– I’ll have to wait and see what I have after I cut the main body, since I’ll have some stripe matching to do.

7. The Sewaholic Renfrew Top. The pattern just came in today (hurrah for pre-sales!) and I’m quite excited about it. The fabric is also TBD, but I have an idea of which of my knit prints I want to devote to this project. I’m thinking the long sleeves with the cowl neck, and this one will most likely be much higher on the queue than #7.

8. The Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress, in a tropical-type print that I’ve had since somewhere in my college years, I’m pretty sure (and I’m not sure where it came from, because I don’t remember actually buying it….it might have been given to me). But I’ve had it tagged for this dress ever since I saw the pattern. I’ll just have to test the top first, but I’m hoping I can come up with a sort of wearable muslin for it. I was flipping through the links to some of the finished dresses that Tasia has on her blog recently, and came across one that has just straps instead of the whole tie-in-a-bow thing, which I think would be great since, although the bow is cute, that would be very hard to do to myself!

9. A pair of pants from the charcoal denim that I was given for Christmas. (I’m strongly considering using leftovers to add to a coordinating bag that I was also given fabric for, so I’ll need to see what I have left.) I’m thinking the trousers from either this pattern or this pattern. I’ll have to test them first, of course, but I think I’ll check it against what I ended up with for the corset-laced pants, since I’m happy with the fit at the top for those. Particularly in front.

10. A top from the silky black/white/grey print that came with the denim. To keep it simple, I’ll probably go with whichever top from whichever pants pattern I use…though I’m leaning a bit more towards the top in the first pattern for that print. (Those pants use less fabric anyway, so that might be my better bet for having leftovers!)

11. The aforementioned bag, which I’m going to be boring and make from the same pattern as the last bag I made. What can I say….out of all the purse patterns I’ve tried or made over the course of my sewing life, this style works the best for me!

12. Remember months and months ago when I asked for ideas for something to do with this long-time stash resident? I haven’t forgotten about it…. I just still haven’t quite figured out what to do with it! At the moment, I’m leaning towards either trying to figure out how to stretch that into a maxi-dress (I have some solid brown knit that would go great with it), or maybe something along the lines of this. With a belt, of course. But those sleeves are fun (and definitely kimono-esque, as several of you mentioned), and it’s a simple enough style that it wouldn’t break up the print much. It might be a tight squeeze, since it looks like the pattern calls for almost 3 yards, but that’s including a scarf from the same fabric and I can quite easily leave that off. Or maybe this? Which I think I like the cut/sleeves even better, because it looks like it has a bit more shape to it, and then I could use that coordinating brown knit to make a camisole to wear underneath…. Decisions, decisions.

So that should keep me busy for awhile, huh? Given that muslins need to be made, I’m certainly not cutting all dozen of these projects out at once, but I could easily aim for 4-6!


After last Saturday’s thrift store run, my sis-in-law/friends and I did some paper crafting. One of the girls had the idea sometime last year to make some paper wreaths out of recycled books. I just got it hung up today, but I finished my wreath on Sunday.

Or so I thought.

This was the look I was going for…

And this is kind of what I ended up with. I didn’t realize it was so lopsided until I hung it up….I’m trying to decide if it looks more like a demented bird or an aerial view of a hurricane.

Yeah, I think I’ll need to go back and add some more leaves (or feathers, or whatever) on that one side. Good thing I got a thick book!

There has been sewing. And knitting. Just no visual updates on that yet.

Ok, I feel better now.

 This was the view outside today. How very monochromatic.

And I needed a break from the raincoat anyway, even though this would have been a really good day to have the finished product!

This was one of the tops I found on my thrift store run over the weekend. There were a lot of things I liked about it–the colorful embroidery, the funky hemline…

But I wasn’t a huge fan of the shoulder ruffle. So I decided to take care of that today, now that the first step (washing and pre-shrinking the shirt) was done. Besides, the machine was already threaded with the right color anyway!

It was a pretty simple fix. I just picked it apart, and repinned it so all of the raw edges were on the inside, and then sewed it back up. And I ended up taking it in a couple of inches on each side of the top, too.

And I ended up with this much cuter tank top, which I am looking forward to wearing once the weather gets warm! (Or maybe sooner with my big chunky brown hoodie sweater, if I get really tired of winter clothes…)

So I’m feeling better now. I don’t have to delegate this to the reconstruction pile, I got to make something cute and summery to throw in winter’s face, and I actually finished a project. The latter being what was getting to me the most. So with that done, I was able to psych myself up to go back to the raincoat.

I sewed on the belt loops tonight, and worked on underlining the front. A complicated process, since I could neither pin nor baste one of the edges. I think topstitching will be in this coat’s future.

But I did go ahead and baste it, well inside the seam allowance, on the raw edges. I was considering just leaving the front without it, but I think I need it to give the eventual buttons and buttonholes a little more stability. Especially since I’ve been using the leftovers of this as interfacing anyway, as well as underlining.

So this is kind of what the coat looks like now, sans sleeves and without the front properly finished. I have to figure out the lining issue before I can do that. And, well, probably iron this thing if I can. It’s gotten kind of wrinkled from being folded up in a bag along with the rest of the pieces, unfortunately. (Also, please ignore my closet. Having the curtain drawn back was the only way I could hang it to try and let it unwrinkle some.)

And the raincoat saga continues…

I think I’m going to be forced to take a break from it soon, though. I literally have nowhere to leave it to dry after I waterproof again, because the basement is entirely torn to pieces.

So this was my process yesterday:

1. Get the shoulder seams and one half of the sleeve seams sewed/finished, a process that took much longer than it should have due to my lack of ability to press this fabric/having to paperclip instead of pin and the paper clips keep falling off/getting rather distracted by catching up on Downton Abbey. 

2. Spend the next hour or so cutting out scraps of flannel to interface the bands that go around the sleeves/stitching those together/trimming and attempting to flip the first one, only to find that I layered it wrong and the flannel would be completely on the outside. Oops.

3. Take a break to do some teaching and throw together some chili for dinner/crafty evening planned with my best friend.

4. Painstakingly rip out the trimmed band, only to think near the end, “Do I really want to put more holes for the belt loops in this fabric that I’m going to have to waterproof, just for a band that’s probably going to be really uncomfortable when worn over bulky colder-weather clothes?”

5. Ditch the sewing altogether and go knit instead.

Yeah…..maybe a forced break will be good. Can’t work on it today anyway, because I’m off to the thrift store with some friends!

Two things:

#1: Figured I should update on the knitting. Here’s where it’s at, around 37/54 rows of the back. (I know the picture looks a little weird and ghostly, due to the white quilt back that I had it sitting on….but hey, you can see the details!) Aside from it being at the point where I can’t knit this and watch tv or listen to music with lyrics that grab my attention because there’s too much counting involved, I think it’s going pretty well! (I’m really, really glad I had the Cadence sweater to practice those diamond-like patterns on.)

#2: In the interest of stashbusting, I went through my two bins of clothes that I had to reconstruct in some way or other, and ruthlessly culled out about half of it to take to the thrift store. So now I have it down to one bin. One very full, overstuffed bin that is still hard to fit on the shelf. But at least I was able to move it to a lower shelf, so I don’t have to stand on a chair and potentially throw out my back every time I want to grab it. Yeah, I need to get on actually making some of those. And now if I see anything really cool that needs some tweaking when I visit Goodwill this week, I can justify it!

That”s all. For now. Back to sewing.

A little progress, at least…

This was the first day I was able to work on the raincoat since the last post. Though I did get some knitting in, and one of those patterns traced out. (And I may have ordered a couple of patterns….Ahem.) So here’s what’s new:

I have buttonholes in the pocket flaps, and the yoke. (Decided to go diagonal on the yoke, just to mix it up. Also, I miss the automatic buttonhole sizing capability that my machine used to have before I broke the original foot….sigh.)

I did a lot of internal seam finishing, because look how much this stuff frays! So between that and not being able to actually use pins for fear of poking more holes into it, this is taking a rather long time. The other reason it took a little longer than I thought it would was because I was having a little trouble with one of the pockets….first time I made it inside out and the second time I sewed it in upside down!

But this is what the outside looks like now (photo lightened quite a bit since it’s the only way to see the details.) The front pieces are sewed together, the pockets are in, and the fronts and back are now sewed together at the sides. The waterproofing is drying now, at least as far as I could get it on….I kind of ran out, and since I’d already used and frozen twice, the brush wasn’t working so well and I’m not sure the seams are sufficiently coated. So I ordered two more tubes tonight, to be on the safe side, and I’ll probably re-coat those once it’s in. In the meantime, I can at least sew one seam on each sleeve, and start working on the belt and loops and stuff. Maybe the lining, if I can figure out the best way to sew that together and still get it in the jacket well…. I’m still not sure if I should leave a gap in the back, or just do the hems by hand or what.

Thinking things through…

Progress so far: I finished cutting out the lining, and got the flannel basted onto all of the lining pieces.

Cutting on the floor definitely has its hazards.

But look, I had enough of the blue left to cut out a shirt, too! (Hey, beats putting the fabric away and letting it sit for several more years, right?)

I knew going into this that the coat was going to take awhile. Mainly due to the seam sealer stuff. So, since the Burda magazine instructions are famously hard to follow anyway, I figured I’ll just completely mix up the order to try and minimize the seam sealer applications. So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Sew the pocket flaps, the front yoke pieces, the collar pieces, and the center back/pleat pieces together. Waterproof. (Done.)

2. Flip and topstitch said pocket flaps/front yoke/collar pieces; sew back to back yoke. Waterproof. (Done as far as I could, since I was having some difficulty with getting the waterproofing inside the pieces, mostly due to it getting all over my hands when trying to get it out of the bag. You’re supposed to store it in the freezer between uses, and since I didn’t know how to clean out the brush applicator, it got all over the tube instead. I’m also beginning to question whether one tube of the seam sealer is going to be enough…)

3. Make the buttonholes in the pocket flaps and front yoke; make belt carrier loops/tubes for belt and sleeve bits/sew sleeve pieces together. Waterproof.

4. Sew the pocket flaps to the front of the coat, follow their instructions as best as I can figure to get the front and side front/pocket pieces together. Also, side/shoulder seams. Turn and topstitch belt loops/ belt stuff. Waterproof.

5. Add in the sleeves. Sew on the belt loops. And possibly some other parts before waterproofing again.

Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because I’m not quite sure what the best way to work the lining/self-faced front opening is with the collar. Especially since the front is pretty much self-faced. (And interfaced, though what I may do with that is just chop up some of the flannel I used to test it. I mean, it’s in the right shape anyway…. I just can’t baste it or fuse it on, so I’ll have to figure out the best way to hold it in place.) At this point, I’m thinking that I’ll just leave the back pleat area open for turning purposes, so it’ll be easier to do the hemming. And then just figure out what to do to deal with the pleat itself later. I can always hand-stitch something in if I need to.

No sewing for me today– I’m going to take advantage of that table being somewhat cleaned off to trace some patterns out! I’m hoping to have time to get through two jackets. And that blouse pattern from the BurdaStyle book. I have plans…

Starting the raincoat!

First off, just wanted to thank Helen, Kristin and Ginger for the suggestion of crocheting around the neckline of the sweater. I got the same suggestion from my mom, and since my best friend is a crocheter, I got her to do that for me over the weekend. (Figured it would be better from someone who knew what she was doing!) It definitely feels more stable now–I just need to weave the new yarn ends in and then test it out. Hopefully that will do the trick!

With January already a third over, I’m starting to get kind of antsy to actually make some sewing progress! Especially since I made the mistake of pondering my mental list of the next several projects I’d like to do there while I was driving around today, and they’re all pretty much things that involve a lot of tailoring and fitting and whatnot. (I’m definitely going to have to throw in a random knit shirt or something, just to give me something relatively simple.) So, in hopes that I can actually do some sewing tomorrow, I spent pretty much the entire evening after work trying to get as much of the raincoat cut out as possible.

I’ve been kind of dreading this task…cutting out is pretty much my least favorite part of sewing anyway, and I don’t currently have access to the table I usually cut stuff out on due to remodeling. So I’m having to awkwardly lay fabric out on the living room floor in a narrow space and hope that the family dog doesn’t walk on it! Plus there’s a lot of pieces, and two pieces of fabric. (You know me, gotta have the bright lining to offset the dark exterior….)

The good news: I’m pretty sure I got all of the outer pieces cut out, including all of the fiddly little rectangular bits that the magazine didn’t give me pieces to trace. And I have large enough pieces left of the outer fabric that I can probably recut any of those that I messed up on, with the exception of the belt, which was rather difficult to cut a rectangle of that length on the very, very confined space allowed by my tiny little cutting board on the living room floor and caused me to unnecessarily waste a bunch of fabric that I wouldn’t have otherwise because I had to attempt it 4 times. (And the end still went crooked that last time. Oh well. At least it wasn’t in two pieces like the previous two attempts.)

The bad news: I’m not entirely done cutting out the lining yet. Mostly because the fabric got horribly wrinkled and I had to iron it, but also since I’m using the flannel pieces I tested it with to back it for warmth, and am cutting the lining out single-layer and pinned onto those so I can match them up better. I finally gave up for the night just before I started writing this. Three hours was enough cutting for one day!

I think this is going to be fun inside the jacket, though. Don’t you?

The back is going to prove a little tricky due to the pleat, I think I’m trying to figure out how to make that work with a lining, since the pattern calls for a lining that basically stops right above that–it only lines the sleeves and the upper back. Since I’m fully lining it, I’ll have to rethink that. I was thinking about just sewing the lining and back pieces together in such a way that all of the bulk is in that one seam that attaches the yoke, but then that will most certainly throw things off at the side seams. At the same time, I don’t think I want to eliminate the pleat in the lining entirely, because that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a pleat for ease of movement! I’ll have to think about it, I guess…any suggestions?

the wearability factor

I think I was on the right track with my Cadence, in purposely making it longer. It’s rather loose up top, and the belt is quite necessary for this to work on me! I like the styling of this–though you can’t quite see the whole outfit, I’m wearing it with my skinny jeans and my taller brown boots and it’s just very comfortable, but still nice enough for flute teaching later. For what ended up being such an open knit, it’s surprisingly warm–hurrah for being able to wear alpaca!

My main concern with this is the neckline. It’s stretching like crazy as I wear it–it was about 2″ higher when I put it on this morning, and if not for letting it dip lower in the back, it would quite easily be falling off my shoulders by this point! So I’m trying to figure out what I can do about that–whether it would be better to weave some of the leftover yarn into the neckline to try and tighten it up, or attempt a row of crochet around the top to cinch it in, or what. Because that’s the sort of thing that could take away the wearability factor in what is already a much looser sweater than I would have preferred.

But aside from that, the knitalong is complete. So I wanted to publicly thank Kristin for her expertise and patience with us newbies, and Sarah for coming up with the idea! Despite the frustrations, I did have fun and learned a lot!

So, moving on. I did a bit of swatching and then cast on my next major knitting project last night. This is the Camellia Shrug from the Winter/Spring ’11 KnitScene, and I’m making it in a nice-feeling (and washable!) cotton/acrylic blend that I picked up at the yarn store on Tuesday.  I’m 14 rows into it so far, and other than the annoyance of trying to cast 4 stitches onto 3 double-pointed needles without them sliding off and making me start over a couple of times, once I got it going, it’s been a fun knit so far. But I’m really glad that I had the Cadence to work on first so I could get used to reading a chart! The diamond pattern actually isn’t all that dissimilar, either. It’s just a lot more increases, since it starts in the middle and goes out from there in the round.

I’ve also got my raincoat “muslin” done! This is the sleeveless version of it. And it looks a bit big, but I’m actually going to leave this as is with no adjustments. For one thing, this is being made to wear over bulkier winter clothes. For another thing, it has a belt anyway. So all I need to do is take this apart, trim the seams back down to normal from the 1″ that I allowed for test purposes, and I can get started on the actual cutting out! (And then figure out what to do with that main front piece, since I’m not sure if I’ll need to line or underline that or not.)

One final comment on the next several posts in general… I know there’s occasionally a debate amongst sewing bloggers about whether it’s better to show all finished projects, or in-progress things. And I know there are people out there who have no interest in seeing unfinished projects. I’m one who tends to show more of the process. And I’m ok with that. For me, the process of putting a garment together is as significant a part of the enjoyment as wearing the finished product. I had a nice reminder of that recently when talking about my sewing with a newer friend. (Well, boyfriend, actually. I seem to have stumbled into one of those relationship things over the last month–thus my quasi-resolution to just keep things as pressure-free as I can this year!)  So I’m unapologetically going to keep writing about things like how this raincoat comes together. And my barely-started Anthropologie-esque refashion. And this shrug that may not look much different than it does now the next time I take a picture of it. And whatever other sewing or knitting projects I end up doing this year. Because most of us who sew aren’t solely about the destination most of the time, are we? It’s about the journey and the learning process, too. And that’s something that should be celebrated.

back in the saddle…

My holiday seems to have been filled with surprisingly little crafting! Though most of it is due to necessarily putting things on hold. I’m going to have to go pictureless for this post since my desktop monitor seems to have gone into a coma, and that’s where I store my photos. (On my laptop now.) But I’m starting a few new projects now, so here’s what I’m kicking off 2012 with…

1. The winter raincoat. This is still very much in the muslin stage. I’m making a mock-up out of the flannel that I’ll eventually be underlining the lining with to check the fit, and I wasn’t able to finish cutting it out until today because I somewhat underestimated how much I would actually need (I think the flannel was more narrow than I’d anticipated after washing/drying) and was just short enough that I couldn’t squeeze in one sleeve piece. So I had to go back for one more yard, and wash/dry that. I won’t actually be sewing on it this afternoon since we’ve been having some power flickering issues. It’s pretty windy here today. (Thus the monitor coma.) So I’m leaving my machine off for now, but maybe I’ll start actually basting that together tonight.

2. In the meantime, I’m playing around with the beginnings of my first Anthropologie-inspired recon of the year. I’ve been eyeing this one for the last couple of weeks….
This is the Attapeu Jacket. There’s a crazy amount of detail in this one, and so I’m not planning on doing a literal copy of this one like I more or less did with the pants from last summer. But the idea of something bright and colorful is really appealing to me now that we’re firmly in the clutches of the blahness that is Mid-Atlantic winter, and I have a couple of pieces in my reconstruction pile that could make a really fun shirt version of this. I’m planning to post this one more step-by-step than I’ve gotten in the habit of doing, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of that soon!

3. The Cadence is currently sitting on a bunch of towels in a bathroom, blocking. So hopefully that will be dry in a couple of days and I can actually wear it! In the meantime, I’m going to go to the local yarn store this afternoon before I start teaching and (hopefully) pick something up for that shrug I mentioned in a recent post.

So that’s me….what are you doing for your first project(s) of the year?