Come along (to the grunge show), Pond

I had been planning on making a plaid flannel shirt for the Doctor Who Sewalong from the earliest days of my planning. After all, when I think of Amy Pond, her Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon outfit is the one that immediately jumps to mind.

(Though, with the right white button down, I could definitely wear River’s outfit, too. Minus the gun holster. And let’s face it, my hair is definitely more like Amy’s!)

For once in my life, the timing on this project was quite serendipitous, because it enabled me to participate in three sewalongs with one project! It would have been four, but I just couldn’t quite get this done in time for the official dates of the Fall Essentials Sewalong. I can, however, claim this shirt for both the Grunge Sewalong and the Flannel Shirt Sewalong that Kelly is hosting!

What's with the silence?My initial thought was to find a plaid as similar to Amy’s shirt as possible, but then I remembered that I hardly ever wear red. And I already have this shirt. And I also found that lovely blue plaid that I showed in its half-done state in the last post, and figured that would mix in with my wardrobe much better.

I’m quite pleased overall with how it turned out. I can wear it with the sleeves rolled up like Amy’s, with some skinny jeans and boots…

Wait, what was I doing again?

Oh, right, project details. I’ll get to those after the fashion show.

Grunge styleOr I can wear it with the sleeves rolled down for warmth, which is how I’ll be rocking it today, since it’s still stupid cold out there. Going grunge-style here and wearing it over a t-shirt, which is how I was most likely to wear a flannel in the 90s. I guess my musical experience was more “grunge-lite” than anything else–I was still a pretty young teenager in its heyday, and my fashion choices were largely dictated by my school’s dress code. I did listen to bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, but I was also just as (or more) likely to listen to U2 or Counting Crows. Or the Beatles. Yes, I was the weird kid who preferred 60’s music to all those boy bands that were so ridiculously popular by the time I graduated. Every time they play the Backstreet Boys on the radio station at work, which they do on a disgustingly regular basis, it still takes me back to walking the halls of my high school and hearing my female classmates singing it while they sat against the wall before class.

(For the record, yes, there’s a Weeping Angel on my shirt. My intention was to do a “Don’t Blink” photo, but I was having trouble getting one where it didn’t look like it was yawning. On the plus side, you can look away from your screen now.)

Ok, back to those pattern details. I’ll do a proper review, since it’s been awhile.

Finished!Pattern: I used #114 out of the April 2010 issue of BurdaStyle. I was originally going to use my beloved New Look 6407 and mash it up with the BurdaStyle pattern I used for that other plaid shirt I linked to earlier. Then I decided it would be easier to just trace out a new pattern, and I needed a little more length and a little less front darting for a plaid. (And I didn’t have enough time to jump on the Archer bandwagon and order that.)

Description:  The magazine just calls it a “casual shirt-blouse”.

Pattern sizing: Size 38-46. I made the 40.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? For Burda patterns, they were surprisingly straightforward! The annoying thing was that it referred me to instructions for two other patterns in this particular issue, but all things considered, I can live with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Overall, it’s a pretty good basic button-down. I also like that the sleeves are actually long enough for my arms with no alterations. That’s pretty rare. I do not like this collar, though. It’s crazy wide, and just looks kind of weird.

Fabric used: A cotton plaid flannel that I bought at Joann’s. I know there’s a lot of Joann’s haters out there, but aside from some fraying when I prewashed it, the fabric turned out very soft and cozy. Since they’re literally the only apparel fabric store option in my entire state, it’s good to know that they still have nice fabric sometimes!

Plaid matchingPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I left off the pocket, and that little back loop thing. I cut a few pieces on the bias, like the cuffs, collar and yoke, just to avoid more plaid matching. I also used my New Look pattern as a guideline for lowering the bust dart. It would have been super-high on me otherwise. I also didn’t bother putting buttons on the collar stand, because I will never button this that high. Good thing, since I would have been one button short otherwise. 

Quick note on the plaid matching–I honestly forgot to factor in the dart when working on this, so I went for the next best thing and intentionally alternated the lines. Because Amy kept alternating between Rory and the Doctor…yeah, something like that. But hey, look at that matching in the sleeve and under the arms!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?   I might sew it again, with some tweaks.
I’d probably add a little more front shaping, and a bit more flare at the hem. It’s a little tighter around my hips than I’d like. Or maybe I’ll just jump on the Sewcialist bandwagon and buy the Archer….hey, look, she’s having a sale this weekend!

But first, time to change out of these skinny jeans. After all, it’s Thanksgiving here in the States, and that is not a good fashion choice for stuffing my face with turkey and mashed potatoes. 

Playing with dye

First of all, thank you for your kind words about my grandfather’s passing. It was a rough week, particularly on Saturday when we had the funeral. My mom’s side of the family in particular has stayed pretty close throughout the years, even now that all but one of my cousins is college-aged or older (I’m the oldest of 12 on that side, not counting the several spouses that have been added over the last 5ish years), and we still get together every few months for holidays and things. So it did help to have that time after the funeral to hang out with them and my aunts and uncles and laugh and reminisce. Thanksgiving is going to be strange this year, since we also lost my dad’s father a few months ago, but I’m hopeful that there will still be some good times with my family to look forward to. 

I was off of my retail job most of last week, since it was the lull between pumpkin season and the Christmas tree rush, and working on my second Doctor Who Sewalong project was a welcome distraction. (Incidentally, I was also glad to have the 50th anniversary to look forward to on Saturday night! I originally had more elaborate plans to make themed food and all, but in the end, my husband and best friend and I just ordered Chinese food and sat around in our Whovian t-shirts to watch the later showing. LOVED it. Anyway.) But this post is about the one day I took off from that sewing project! I do enjoy fiddling around with fabric dye, even though my last experiment didn’t go well at all. So when several sewcialists on Twitter decided that November should be “play with dye” month, I thought it would be fun to join in. I still have several projects in mind to do, though I think some of them will have to wait for warmer weather and/or other sewing projects. But here’s what I decided to fiddle around with.

IMG_0883I started off with these–a thrifted, all-cotton cabled sweater, a cotton/viscose rib knit cardigan that I got for free at a girls’ night swap, and this cotton gauze shirt that I made several years ago and barely wear because I don’t like the way the color looks on me (or how see-through the light fabric is!) Not pictured here is the yardish of silk dupioni left over from the outside of my wedding dress, since I didn’t find it until after I took the picture, but I threw that in, too. I know silk can sometimes shift colors when using the Procrion dyes, since I tried to dye some silk lining brown several years ago and it turned pink instead, but I figured that with the color I picked (Grecian Sea, from Dharma Trading Company), I figured the worst that would happen is it would be some shade mixture of blue, green or yellow. I could live with that. And the fabric on its own was just so….bridal, you know?

I read the directions more carefully than the last time, and spent most of my morning running up and down the stairs to make sure that the washing machine was still agitating but not draining the dye too soon. So not only did I get a great workout (for once), the results were much better!

IMG_0884I lost a lot of the silk to fraying–I probably should have taken the time to just stitch the edges, but I was in a hurry because by the time I found it, my clothes were nearly done pre-washing. So I think I may have just barely enough for a Sorbetto or some other kind of camisole top. The texture of the silk is also much different now, from all of the washing, but I’m ok with that. As for the clothes, I’m really happy with how they turned out! It’s really interesting how the different fabrics react to the same color. It shows up best on the gauze top, since the crocheted lace is so much darker and the polyester ribbon didn’t take it at all. I may end up just taking the ribbon out–what do you think?

It got stupid cold* yesterday, so I’ve already debuted my cable sweater. The blue matched perfectly with one of the stripes in this thrifted double-gauze plaid buttondown that I have. I’d normally not wear it this time of year, since it also has 3/4 sleeves. Maybe with a cardigan at most. But I figured it would be a good candidate for that sweater-layered-with-a-longer-buttondown look that I keep seeing on Pinterest and whatnot. The only picture I had time for was this Twitter selfie, so you can’t really see the whole outfit, but it worked, I think. Nice to know I have another cold-weather option for at least one piece in my wardrobe.

// even though that sweater is too short to wear on its own, the color makes me happy, and I’m sure that I’ll be reaching for it a lot more this winter.

IMG_0885While we’re talking blue things, I’ll leave you with a sneak preview of my sewalong project. Let’s say inspired-by and not exact replica, ok? I’ll explain more next time. The sleeves are basically sewed together, but I need to sew them on the shirt. And then there’s the matter of buttonholes and hemming. But I’m getting pretty close. This is a new-to-me pattern from a Burda magazine, and I didn’t bother with a muslin, so I may have to fiddle with the buttonhole placement to get it to fit.

(*Stupid cold: When it’s cold enough that being outside for more than a minute makes your face hurt, and there’s no snow on the horizon. See all of last winter in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.)

Of winter wardrobe planning and wool allergies (and a giveaway winner!)

Now that it’s getting to the end of the year, my mind is already turning towards my goals for next year’s sewing. I usually do a post about this closer to the end of December, and I’m sure I still will, but one thing I’ve already realized/decided is that I really need to focus on beefing up my cold-weather wardrobe. This isn’t to say that I won’t sew anything for the summer months, particularly since I have quite a bit in my stash that’s better for that and I still want to stashbust. But I had the very sobering realization recently that I’m already bored with my clothing options for the colder weather. And it’s only November. I may have to do some thrift shopping soon to give myself a few new things to mix in, but of course I want to make some new things too! Though much of this may have to be for next winter. Look at me, planning ahead.
The other complication to my plans, which you know if you’ve been reading this for awhile, is that I get cold ridiculously easily. And I also can’t wear wool. Honestly, I can hardly even touch the stuff, because my fingers start prickling and itching almost instantly when I do. (Ironically, there’s now “wool” in my new last name. Go figure.) So my constant challenge is to try to put together outfits that keep me warm, are still at least somewhat stylish, and won’t make me break out in hives if I leave it on too long.

My big challenge for next year is that my peacoat that I made back in the early days of this blog is getting rather worn out. I can make it through this winter, but I’ll have to make a new one before the next cold season. (Still, 7 years, not bad for my first me-made coat!) To get that coat warm enough, I had to basically make a quilt for the lining with a double layer of batting, under polyester suedecloth. It’s warm, but it’s also very bulky and started off so stiff that it could literally stand on its own. It’s softened since, but I don’t really want to do that again. So I need to figure out a good option for the outer layer especially, and then any underlinings that I choose to do. I actually am seriously considering sucking it up and underlining my outer fabric with wool, in hopes that I might not feel it once it’s completely enclosed by other fabrics. It would be awful to sew, though. My hands are itching just thinking about it. I suppose fleece could be an underlining option too, but wind just cuts right through fleece for me when I’m wearing that as an outer layer.

I’ll probably just go with the same pattern again (view A, in lavender here), since I’ve already gone through making and fitting it once, and it’s a classic style. I’m probably also going to stick with mostly black, since that means I can mix and match colorful knitted scarves on a whim. I think Mood Fabrics is out for me this time, since I haven’t found a coating on their website yet that isn’t at least blended with wool. I have found a few options elsewhere:

Polyester/Acrylic boucle coating from I like the texture, though it would be quite prone to raveling and would certainly have to be underlined for warmth.

Black Heavyweight Rainwear from Denver Fabrics. On the plus side, it would keep me dry. Though I already have a cold-weather raincoat.

“Poodle Fur” Knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. Though, honestly, I’m not really seeing this as an option. The thought of a fur-looking winter coat just isn’t working for me.

So, yeah, I guess that boucle is the best option so far. Any thoughts about other fabric options/what I should underline and/or line with? I will gladly take any and all help I can get, because my only other somewhat fashionable option is something like this.

And the last thing I want to look like in the winter is this.

On a cheerier note, I did find a solution to another planned wardrobe addition recently. I’ve been thinking that once I finish the cardigan I’m currently working on, I’d like to make a mustardy yellow one next. It would go with this, the two fabrics I bought for Darling Ranges and Reglisse dresses, and my totally wear-again bridesmaid dress from the most recent wedding. (Mine is a charcoal grey.) I’m pretty proud of myself, because even though it took quite a bit of scouring through a closeout section, I found a fully cotton yarn in just the right color, and for half price! I got the “Impala” color. The plan is to make this cardigan, from my Coastal Knits book. I know I won’t have it for this year, but hopefully I can manage to knock this out before next fall, because a cheery yellow cardigan sounds just perfect for combating the winter blahs.

Edit: I ended up having to switch yarns, due to the supplier not having enough. I guess someone else ordered some around the same time I did. So now I’ll be using this, in yellow. The person from Webs who helped me out was great, though–she even offered wool-free alternative suggestions to me! Thanks, Jackie!

Speaking of knitting, I do need to draw a name for that KnitScene giveaway!  I’m a couple of days late. My excuse is that my grandfather passed away on Monday, so it’s been a bit of a rough week so far. Since I’m home alone right now, and dogs aren’t the most helpful name drawers, I’m resorting to the random number generator as usual.

That makes the winner Laura, who said she liked the Rosemary cardigan best. (I don’t blame you. That was a very strong contender for that yellow cardigan! I just loved the Rocky Coast one first. It’ll get made eventually.) So congratulations, and I’ll be in touch with you soon.

Time And Relative Dimensions In Skirts

TARDIS-inspired skirtI finally finished my first project for the Doctor Who sewalong! Here it is, with a little help from my K-9 unit. This skirt took longer than I thought it would, to be honest. It really didn’t help matters that I had one of those weeks earlier this month where I basically didn’t have time to sew a single stitch. But this week, I only have to go to my retail job one day (!), so I should be able to get in a decent amount of sewing!

This is the project I’ve been plotting the longest for the sewalong, actually. It just seemed natural to take inspiration from the TARDIS, because that’s one of the most iconic elements of the show. But I didn’t want to go too literal with it, or any of my projects, so I can get maximum wearability. Aside from my collection of t-shirts, I’m a fan of subtle geekiness in my clothes–definitely inspired by a fandom, but not costume-y so I can incorporate it easily into my everyday wardrobe. Kind of like these two shirts, which were directly influenced by Lord of the Rings (a description of a cloak in the book, and Eowyn’s white dress from the movie, respectively. I borrowed the embroidery motif directly from the latter.) So my thought was, if I used the TARDIS windows as a border on a skirt, the cool people would get it, and those who aren’t in the know would just see “geometric border”. Either way, it works.

IMG_0878And I finally got a way to feature this particular fabric! Pretty neat, right? This denim is metallic silver on the back side, and so I’ve been hoarding it until I could come up with a project that I could play around with using both sides. So when this sewalong came up, I knew it would be perfect! Not quite as perfect as I’d hoped when it came to stashbusting, since I have nearly 3.5 yards left. So I guess I’ll have to make some jeans out of it after all. Or maybe a motorcycle jacket. Hmm…

Oh, and did I mention that it’s stretch denim? That means–you guessed it–it’s bigger on the inside!

IMG_0876The technical details: I modified the Hummingbird skirt from Cake Patterns. The “pink” view, this time. Aside from some fitting tweaks that I made up-front based on the skirt I made during this past summer’s sewalong, here’s what I did…

    1. Straightened out the curve of the pockets, because that made an angle more like a TARDIS roof. (I know, that hip curve looks pretty extreme, right? But that’s how much I had to take out of the green skirt, and it fits, so…)

      2. I turned the back dart into a seam, mainly to facilitate the next step.

        TARDIS skirt backGallifreyan buttons? 3. Rather than a flounce cut on the bias, which would be a disaster in denim, I made a box pleat in the back. After all, a box pleat is perfect for a blue box of a time machine/spaceship, right? (Sorry for the wrinkles, I’d been wearing this for several hours first.)

          4. I did a (mostly) faced hem. I didn’t want to do that to the pleat section and add extra bulk, so that section got a normal hem. I also reverse appliqued on the faced hem section to make those TARDIS windows.

            5. I did a centered zipper rather than an invisible one,also because the invisible zipper would probably be a disaster in denim.

              6. I made the waistband using the wrong side of the fabric, so I could tie in the silver on the border better. Though I’m not sure how often this part will be seen, since a) I don’t really have any shirts that work with a high-waisted skirt and b) I’m also not really convinced I can rock that look. Maybe it’s because the only option I could find for today’s styling of the waistband was a plain black tee, but it might be a little over-emphasizing on my hips. Anyway.

              Yes, I also left the basting in, because I was too lazy to rip it out at the end. Sue me.

                7. I also added a second (non-functional) button, because I didn’t like the asymmetry of how the functional one sat above the zipper. Incidentally, these buttons were the closest thing I could find in the store to Gallifreyan writing.
                IMG_0875One more “guts” picture, this time to show off the lining fabric. It’s not quite as vivid as I intended, because I seem to have a problem with figuring out which way to cut a pocket piece and end up having the right side showing on the outside, unless you’re looking directly in the pocket. I had the same problem with the recent Thurlows, so hopefully I’ll figure it out before the next several pairs. But I actually hand-dyed and batiked that fabric myself, many years ago. I got this idea in my head that I wanted a star-covered ceiling, and my parents wouldn’t let me paint the ceiling, so I dyed several yards of muslin and hung it up on my ceiling with thumbtacks instead. Then they became curtains in front of my broken-sliding-door closet a few years later, and actually feature as a backdrop for many of my early blog posts. Like this one. Since I have a different closet now with an actual door, I don’t need that, anymore, but there’s no reason to let several yards of perfectly good hand-dyed fabric go to waste, right? The batik job is honestly way too wonky for me to even think about making a dress out of it. Batiking even basic asterisk-like stars with straight lines was a lot harder than I’d thought.  (Thus all the dots.) But this will probably end up being a lot of inner waistbands and pockets.

                I’m quite proud of this, overall. Particularly since I altered a flat pattern and it pretty much did what I wanted it to!

                Next up: I’ll give you the same preview I put on Twitter/Instagram the other day. More coming soon.

                Red Velvet, Green Velvet

                I’m still plugging away at my first project for the Doctor Who Sewalong, and am hoping to have it finished and ready to show by this weekend. But I took a break on Tuesday to whip this little bag up.


                It only seems to want to go sideways. Probably what I get for doing a phone photo. But this is the Red Velvet mini-clutch by Cake Patterns, in green velvet! Which kind of makes me laugh.

                UntitledThis one’s sitting a little better, at least. It’s hard to see in there, but the inside is a white brocade. I was able to make this entirely from scraps that I had on hand, aside from needing to purchase a zipper. And aside from the hour or so it took me to figure out how on earth those scissor pleats were supposed to work (I could only mark the dots with thread, because I didn’t want to mess up the velvet), it came together very quickly– I had this cut out and stitched up in one evening.

                I’m not keeping this bag. A friend from church is fundraising to adopt a little girl from China with a heart condition, and she put a shoutout on her Instagram recently to ask for donations, so I told her I’d make a little something for her. So this is part of the Christmas-themed bundle she’s doing, out of three bundles total. Hopefully the winner will like it! Thanks in particular to Steph, who graciously granted permission for me to make this bag for the giveaway when I asked her about it on Twitter. Now that I know how it works, this won’t be the last one I make. I’m already plotting at least one for a Christmas gift!

                Speaking of giveaways, there’s still plenty of time to enter to win a recent issue of KnitScene. There’s already been several entries, so thanks to everyone who’s commented so far! It’s been fun to see what’s caught your eye.

                A little knitting giveaway

                Or, my disorganization is your gain!

                I did a little impulse buying while I was at Joann’s the other day–I thought I had a zipper for my first project for the Doctor Who Sewalong already, but it was completely the wrong shade, and I had nothing on hand that would work, so I had to go. And I bought two knitting magazines while I was there, because apparently I’m addicted to hoarding certain knitting magazines. Particularly ones inspired by things I get all geeky about (Jane Austen, I’m looking at you), and KnitScene. So I bought the most recent KnitScene they had, along with a Harry Potter-inspired one…only to get home and discover that I’d already bought that KnitScene a couple of months ago. I got all confused because the patterns for the newest one are already listed on Ravelry, and I’m way behind on updating my library/yarn stash on there. Oops. So rather than go through the hassle of trying to return the magazine, which I’m not totally sure I’m allowed to do anyway, I figured I’d pass it along to one of you lovely readers!

                Here’s a sample of the patterns in there that I’m eyeing:

                1. The Rosemary Cardigan. Nice shape, those pockets are just cute, and I pretty much automatically like any food that has rosemary in it (yum), so why not incorporate it into my crafting as well?

                2. The Praline Pullover is just really sweet. And I think it might be a good use of the hemp yarn I already had for a fail project that I frogged awhile back.

                In the realm of accessories, the Gallarate beret and mitts are pretty cute. You know me, I like to be all matchy-matchy with my accessories!

                You can see the rest of the patterns on Ravelry. If you’re interested in taking this magazine off my hands, just leave a comment and tell me which pattern in here you’d be most excited to make. I’ll leave the giveaway open until November 18.

                Speaking of knitting, I do actually have a small finished project to show–I just haven’t been able to take any pictures yet. And I’ve been sewing away on my DW project, too, with what limited time I actually had at home last week. So hopefully I’ll have fun things to post soon!