Just call me Goldilocks

I’m going to do a little time traveling today. Not too far back, just to May. I was able to get back to sewing surprisingly fast after this baby, and managed to knock out three projects within the first six weeks of bringing him home. Unfortunately for me, the results have been less than stellar. But I do like to keep it real around here, and not every project is a success, so I’ll share them anyway. Hopefully the photos are OK, but the phone photos that I had to resort to are better than none, right?

20170703_141316My first project after Padawan was born was to knock out two pairs of shorts from Simplicity 1367. Shorts are legitimately the big hole in my wardrobe– I don’t particularly enjoy wearing them because I’ve never been all that confident about how I look in them, but skirts aren’t  always practical for life with young kids, and our summer is way too hot and humid for jeans. And I only had one pair of shorts to get me through the entire summer. I thought this pattern would be good for post-baby wear and (hopeful) weight loss because of the knit yoga-style waistband. Theoretically, I still think that. The problem is that I cut them out while I was still pregnant, and either I remembered my measurements from after the first pregnancy wrong, or I underestimated what size I might need, considering that I started this time with a few pounds more. They’re too small. I recently checked my measurements to cut a different project, and I probably should have gone two sizes bigger, though I made the largest size for the envelope that I had.

Matcha and shortsThey fit enough to be wearable, barely, but they fit me like maternity jeans after the halfway mark or so–the woven part rides too low in the back, and the knit panel is necessary to cover the rest. It feels awkward. It looks awkward too, if this backside shot is any indication. I’m hoping that as I lose some of this baby weight, that they might work better. (Assuming that I can, because I’ve been trying to up my exercise and drink more water and stuff steadily for two whole months, my best streak of consistency in my life, and guess how much weight I’ve lost? NONE. I’m so upset at this.) In the meantime, I bought a second pair at the thrift shop on a $2 sale day. (Along with jeans, because I needed those too.)

Some other details: the solid pair is made from nonstretch lightweight denim and an interlock knit, and the print is a rayon-blend twill that I got in an online fabric swap several years ago, plus a rayon jersey. The rayon jersey, which I bought second after deciding to also make the denim pair, works much better for the waistband. Or it would, if the print pair fit. The interlock is thicker, and I actually basted a fisheye dart in back to keep it from gaping away from me, but once I figured out that the shorts were going to be too small, I decreased the seam allowance on the denim pair, so it works a little better to squeeze them on. IMG_20170428_105621I did add patch pockets to the front of each pair with the intention of holding my phone when I’m dealing with the boys. It’s hard to squeeze it in since the shorts are tight right now, but it helps me tell the front from the back. It would definitely need a tag or something otherwise. I also added several inches to the length, I think around 6″, because the idea of my thighs in short shorts is uncomfortable. That’s exactly why I prefer wearing skirts in summer, I can cover more of my legs without looking frumpy. Anyway. Did I mention that the lining on the denim pockets are geeky fun? My mom let me raid her quilt cotton scraps, since I pretty much do all my cutting out at her place while she gets grandson time, and this piece was from Spoonflower.

Matcha and shortsNext up, I made the Matcha top from Sew Liberated. It popped up on my Instagram feed as a breastfeeding friendly shirt, so in a highly unusual move for me, I bought a brand new pattern and sewed it nearly right away. I should have made a test version. But stupid me, I decided to dive right into the Cotton & Steel challis that my mom gifted me with in lieu of hospital flowers. (Note to my husband, if you ever read this: I will never complain about you buying me fabric instead of flowers that will be dead in a week.) I rounded up on the size to go with my current bust measurement, but the pattern didn’t mention any finished garment measurements. (My one criticism of the pattern, since this company is new to me.) It was huge. What I probably should have done, once I realized this, was unpick what I’d sewn up to that point, retraced the pattern in a smaller size, and recut from what I had. But since I was in the middle of Doug watching the boys so I could sew and I have nowhere good to cut at home for now, I just started tweaking what I had. A lot. So I took in the side seam in the back, took a tuck under the back of the shoulder detail, turned the back into a large box pleat (okay, so that one was a  case of not reading ahead to see that it was supposed to be gathered), shifted the collar down about 2.5″ in the front, and so on.

Matcha and shorts The result is a pretty close approximation of the pattern, thankfully, and it’s very comfortable on our summer days with 3000% humidity. I couldn’t let this lovely fabric be a failure, because it feels so nice (and cool) to wear. Also, Alice in Wonderland print. This makes my literary geeky heart so happy. I actually do like the box pleat in this, too. And the neckline is really unique. There’s a hook and eye that helps hold it closed, and it has worked out very well for nursing so far. I keep thinking I’m going to add another hook and eye so that I don’t have to keep wearing a camisole underneath, but since my new necessary sewing setup means I have to go to the basement, haul a wire shelf out of the closet– most likely while wearing a baby and trying to keep a toddler from grabbing craft supplies and running– dig out the hooks and return everything else, it hasn’t happened yet.Matcha and shorts

Since this experiment gave me no real indication of the fit, I pulled a piece from my stash and cut out the sleeved version for the fall, about two sizes smaller. I haven’t gotten to sewing it yet, so stay tuned.

It’s admittedly frustrating that these three things had so many fit issues, since I have to fight for every scrap of sewing time that I get these days. That’s a large part of why I splurged on the fabric for the Rae skirt from the last post– I just needed something quick and simple that I knew would get good results. I did finish another project recently that seemed to work out, so I’m hoping that means that I’m back to a better streak of sewing. After this run, I could use a few more projects that are just right.


How very exciting.

The good news: I finished a thing! Two things, in fact!

The not so great news: They’re both from a very basic pattern I’ve made before, and therefore not super exciting. But a girl’s gotta sew what a girl needs in her closet, right?

Both of these tops are from the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. And basically solids. Which is generally not something I particularly enjoy sewing, given my printaholic tendencies. But I’ve realized that I am sorely lacking in some basics, as I’ve been slowly purging my closet since May started.

20160717_192224_LLSThis first one is from a coral hatchi-esque knit that I got for Christmas this past year. When going through the Wardrobe Architect, I discovered that basically everything in my closet was cool colors (you know, since I tend to gravitate towards blue and green everything), and I need to inject some warmth! The fabric was mostly ok to work with, though I had an awful time with the neckline. My old Bernina just doesn’t have a stretch stitch, so I usually have to fake it with long, narrow zig zags. And despite that and using the walking foot, it stretched out like crazy! I ended up turning it under and stitching it inside the shirt. The three-layer thickness still makes it lay not that great, but it’s definitely better than it was.

20160717_192330The fun element of this one is that it has metallic gold raised polka dots! They’re very subtle, but it still makes it feel more print-like to me. And I’ve been wearing it a lot lately. It’s done well to help my flamingo skirt from last summer graduate from its near closet orphan status, too. (Gotta love my phone selfie pics, right? But it was either this or possibly not post for another month. Oh well.)


IMG_4227The second shirt is just a plain, solid ivory. I recently bought 3 yards each of ivory and black rayon jersey from Joann’s, because I need multiple basic tops in both. (A third of these in black is likely to happen soonish. I literally have no plain black tees, and with my skirt collection, it’s badly needed.) So to make this one more interesting for me, I decided to hack the pattern slightly. My idea was to channel Rey from the latest Star Wars movie. So I lengthened the sleeves a bit, and added a slight curve to the hem. I also ended up just doing a simple turned under neckline hem– I wanted to try the fold over elastic method mentioned in the instructions, but the stuff I had looked absolutely yellow next to this cream knit. So that will have to wait.IMG_4206

When sewing it together, I ended up deciding to add a split in the side seam to make it easier to get the hem smooth. In retrospect, I’m very glad that I did this, because the shirt looks a bit unflatteringly snug around my midsection if I don’t wear it with something thicker like jeans. So I probably should have added a little more ease in the front, but the split definitely helps. Either way, I think this is probably going to end up more of a layering tee than anything else.

I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed in how both of these turned out, especially since my previous Kirsten tee still fits in a much more flattering way than the ivory one, despite being sewn pre-pregnancy, and the neckline actually did what it was supposed to, unlike the coral one. But I can still use both of them in my wardrobe, so I guess that’s about the best I can hope for right now.

And I did have one more project for this month, so expect to see that in a couple of days.

fabric fail

Not my best project ever.I was so excited for this project. So to say I’m a little disappointed in the outcome is an understatement. But, since I believe that the fails should be documented along with the victories–mostly so I don’t make the same mistake again later–I’m going to share the sad story of these leggings anyway. Slippers, ridiculously lightened photos since it was the only way I could show the seams, and all.

(Hey, from this angle, I don’t look pregnant at all! Anyway.)

The pattern is the Manila leggings, from the current month’s issue of Seamwork magazine. (Doug bought me a year’s pattern subscription for Christmas, which made me very happy since the whole point is quick projects, and I’m going to need those in the coming months!) I had one pair of maternity leggings, which I’ve been wearing instead of tights under the few skirts I have that fit. So I was quite happy to see this pattern and give the leggings-making thing a try, given that I just wasn’t in the mood to play connect-the-dots on my Espresso pattern to try and get a fit when I wasn’t sure what standard to use for the waist/I’d have to modify it anyway. The pattern itself is pretty simple: front piece, back piece, cute petal-like cuffs for the ankles, waistband, done. I knew I’d be altering the top to add a panel for the growing belly, but aside from that, I thought this would be a quick, straightforward make.

But I made two mistakes right away:

  1. I didn’t realize that my chosen fabric–a cool denim-looking knit that I got on sale at Mood when I was making my last online purchase there–didn’t have enough stretch to work for something like this. Honestly, why would you make a knit that stretches more cross-wise, when basically every single pattern ever made would have you cutting so it stretches horizontally? Especially for something that’s pretty much screaming to be some kind of bottomwear. But still. I should have checked this more closely.
  2. I also didn’t realize that, even though there is a full-length view shown in the pictures, the only view included in the pattern was the cropped version. Leggings that only come down to my upper calves are absolutely useless for anything but exercise wear. Especially this time of year.

IMG_2310The result? Yeah, not quite so chic as I hoped. It took so much hacking to even get these to the point where I could pull them on all the way! (And sorry for the weird looking-down pictures– I just couldn’t get the seaming to show up well enough in the others.)

IMG_2311What I probably should have done with the legs was add the extra length around the knees first, and then add the extra width so the stripe would be unbroken. But I did still have hopes that once I managed to get the leggings all the way around my calves, the cuffs would add enough extra length that I could get by with my boots. Didn’t happen. Neither did seam-matching, despite multiple efforts and a lot of seam ripping.  Ugh. It honestly got to the point where I was so fed up with them, that I didn’t even bother with the cute cuffs (which I wasn’t sure would stretch around my legs all the way anyway, given the way things were going) and just cut a strip to give them a sweatpants-like finish.

I was hoping that this would give me another color option to wear with skirts, though I’m not sure why, since the only skirts I have are black, denim, or that long teal one that would hide them anyway. (I’m generally of the school of thought that leggings are not pants, the fabric on my store-bought pair is way too thin for that, but for the sake of these photos, I’m wearing them as such. The things I do for the blog.) I’m not going to say they’re a wadder yet, since I can wear them on days I don’t have to leave the house, like today, and save my jeans for the days I do, but they’re definitely not a project I’m proud of.

IMG_2309On the plus side, the maternity panel alteration seemed to work great. Especially once I went back and cut a new panel on the cross-grain so it would actually stretch. (Yes, I know it’s not really a cross grain for knits.) It does make me feel a little better to know that, at least in this, my pattern hacking skills are beginning to improve.

I do have a decent-sized remnant of this left, which I think is probably just enough for some kind of babywear or undies, though I wouldn’t even try the latter until things are back to more of a normal state. I.e. I’m not being told to put on a pound a week. But essentially, this takes 2 yards out of the stash, for a total of 6.25 yards out so far this year.

Speaking of kid stuff– we had our ultrasound on Monday, and I know the gender now! So I cut out a simple baby outfit last night, am hoping to get it all sewn up today, and my next post should be me telling you all what we’re having. Just warning you now, because this very well could be a double-post day.

One last, unrelated, administrative-type detail– I’ve turned my Instagram into a private account, since it’s at the point where more kid-type stuff will be going up and I don’t want just anyone on the internet to be able to find it. I have still been posting a lot of crafty stuff on there, so if you are a friendly sewcialist (seriously, what other kind is there?) and want to follow, don’t be afraid to send a request! My screenname there is different than my blog/Twitter handle, but I do have a link to the profile on the sidebar.

Sneak peeks and foiled plans

Does anyone else feel like the summer just got away from them? How the heck is it the end of August?

I’ve been quiet on the blog front, but I’ve actually been sewing quite a bit, and now have a backlog of about 3 larger projects and some accessories to write about, all DragonCon related in some way or another. So for the most part, I figure that by this point, it’s better to just wait and show them off in the context of their respective costumes. I shouldn’t have any trouble getting some photographs there! But I have been posting little bits here and there on Instagram, so I figured I’d share a few previews.

 #1: I refashioned a shirt for an Amy Pond costume (from Doctor Who). The shirt I found was almost perfect in its plaid pattern, but I had to pick off this embroidery. Amy’s way too proud to be Scottish to walk around with a US Polo tag on her shirt.

#2: I made a bag to carry around, too, because I’ve been wanting to make myself a bag to use for carrying on airplanes and day trips with Doug anyway. Also, I had TARDIS fabric, thanks to Doug’s Christmas present to me last year, and wanted to make sure it got used! This is just the flap and a piece of the lining, but hopefully I can get a few decent pics of the bag while I’m there.

#3: One costume I haven’t been able to show any pieces of yet is my minion costume (from Despicable Me). These overall shorts are bloody awful and completely unflattering on me, but they were also the only ones I could find at the local thrift shops that weren’t made for toddlers. And I was NOT going to take the time to sew overalls from scratch. But I did create this patch for the front.

And for my foiled plan: I was actually pretty much done with major costume stuff by last week, so I decided to see if I could squeeze out a project that would work for both the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month and The Monthly Stitch’s birthday “cake” month. My plan was to convert the Cake Patterns Red Velvet into a tunic top that I could wear with my skinny jeans. I still think the idea has merit, but after I traced the pattern pieces out, I discovered that the knit I intended for the bodice is too narrow, by a lot if I wanted to have any chance of matching the stripes. So I guess I’ll have to use this piece for something more sleeveless. That idea’s been put on the shelf for now, though I may revisit it with some of my knit stash when I feel less crunched for time.

For now, I’m in the middle of knocking out a Sorbetto that I’d had on my original summer sewing list anyway, so I can add that to my list of clothes to take to Paris. (I need to get on that!) And I also need to start working on my next big project pretty much right away, because a winter coat could take awhile, especially given that I’ll be away a good chunk of September. But DragonCon is only two days away now, and so I need to finish packing! After work, anyway.

Top 5’s of 2013, part 3: Hits and Misses

Time to look back at what I actually made this year! Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

Top 5 Hits of 2013: 
Wedding dress front 1. My wedding dress, aka the “One Dress To Rule Them All”! Yes, I only wore it once, but this was easily the most time-consuming and expensive thing I’ve ever sewn, so I have to include it, right? Plus, I never showed a really good full shot of the finished product, so here’s my excuse to share some of the professional pics. Don’t worry, they gave me the copyright as part of the photo package! We did get a couple of outdoor shots, but the lighting on the ones inside the church actually shows off the details of the dress better, so I went with those.

At Gillian’s request, I’m including a mini top 5 of things I learned or loved about making my wedding dress.

a) I loved working with the fabrics! It’s not every day that I can justify using a whole bunch of different silks, so this was both a lot of fun and a very big learning experience.

b) I learned and/or developed skills in a lot of different couture techniques. I’d worked with underlining before, for instance, but this had underlining, sometimes multiple layers of underlining, boning (and not the cheap plastic kind ,either!), regular lining, the works! So I think my handstitching improved quite a bit in this process!

Wedding dress backc) I love that I was able to design an entire dress around that sunflower lace, since the only two things I’d wanted for my future wedding for ages was having sunflowers, and making my dress! So I got to combine them! I also love that my pattern modifications to the Cambie top worked so well for really showing it off. (Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of it, because I have probably at least 3 yards left! Any ideas?)

d) I learned that sometimes muslins, or even multiple muslins, are a necessary evil. I’m really glad I allowed myself the time to do that. My usual attitude towards them is to try to make them as wearable as possible, or just skip them altogether, because I have so little sewing time and “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But I’m glad I really took the time to perfect the fit before I started–especially since I was just barely able to squeak out the skirt with the yardage I had estimated! Plus, now whenever I do get around to making a “real” Cambie, I have it all modified and ready to go. Assuming I can find those muslin pieces. Gah.

(Disclaimer: I’m still probably going to stick more with wearable muslins for most things, because I still mostly don’t want to take the time for that.)

e) I love that being able to sew helped me keep the costs down significantly! All together, I think the supplies ended up costing about $500. I think the most expensive fabric I got was the dupioni for the outside, at around $16 a yard. Given that I have a hard time paying more than $12 a yard for most fabrics, that’s a LOT. But at the average bridal shop around here, that would get you a pretty low-end polyester dress. Mine was silk, custom-fitted, and I didn’t have to deal with sorting through all of the trains and strapless bodices to find something I was ok with!

And now, on with the rest of the hits…

Thurlow trousers2. The Thurlow trousers. I’m quite happy with the fit, they’re very comfortable, and I’ve worn them at least once a week since I finished them. In fact, I’ve washed and worn them so much that the fabric is already starting to pill on the thighs a bit! Not a huge loss, since this was only ever intended to be a wearable muslin, and the fabric was free, but that means I may have to make a new brown pair sooner than I thought. (After I finish the other 4 pairs that I actually bought fabric for.)

TARDIS-inspired skirt 

3. The TARDIS Hummingbird-esque skirt. Subtle geekiness for the win! This got a lot of love on Flickr (by my standards, which is pretty much anyone commenting at all), and I’m always happy when my pattern alterations turn out as I envision them. Plus, since it’s basically a denim skirt, I have a feeling this is going to be a rather versatile addition to my wardrobe!

Plaid matching4. My plaid flannel shirt. Even though I’m still not a huge fan of the collar, it’s warm and cozy, which is exactly what I need in my life right now. I’m also still feeling a bit smug about how many sewalongs I was able to apply this to! (And now I’m wondering if it’s a crime against fashion to wear flannel shirts that aren’t plaid, because I want a lot more flannel in my life!)

purple tank front
5. The purple Sadie tank top, which has proved to be quite versatile, even though it’s not the most exciting thing I sewed this year. (Aaaaahhhh, look how sunny and warm it is there! Much nicer than looking out the window–it’s actually pretty unseasonably warm here today, but it’s also grey and rainy, which is why I’m home to finish this post. Work is soooooo sloooooow on rainy days that the manager told me to stay home!)

Thankfully, since I didn’t have a huge output this year, I don’t feel like I really had a lot of misses as far as my actual finished projects went. So I’m taking a slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach to this.

Top 5 misses of 2013:
Pavlova cardi
1. The one true sewing fail I had this year was my Pavlova cardigan–the one that tore apart in the washer before I even had a chance to take a photo of me wearing it. I hardly even got a chance to wear it, either. Despite my usual cold-blooded ways, I was sufficiently comfortable both indoors and out to not wear it at all while I was in Jamaica, so I only wore it on the plane there and back. If I were to be honest, it didn’t turn out as cute and flattering as I’d hoped, either. I still plan to make a Pavlova top again, but maybe more of a wrap top as intended. Or with knit fabric so it drapes better.

2. My timing in finishing my Tiramisu dress. It’s not the dress itself, because I do like it. And if I’d made it earlier in the fall or even the summer, I think it would have been worn a lot more. But I only wore it once, because it got too cold almost as soon as I’d finished it! I’m definitely not one of those people who can go short-sleeved in the cold. I wonder how it would look with my brown corduroy jacket–too much brown in the middle?

3. Online fabric shopping. This wasn’t a 100% fail. I did manage to find the right shade of nude organza for the wedding dress. I do like the rayon challises that I picked up for a couple of dresses that I didn’t get to this year. And I recently got some organic cotton knit that is super-soft and I think it will make a great basic black maxidress next year! But I did have multiple issues here, from trying to find a solid emerald green to make wedding accessories (color of the year, huh?!), to the paisley I’d intended for a Darling Ranges dress that looked quite different when it arrived, to the stretch denim I recently ordered that looked like teal, but showed up more of a robin’s egg blue and a lot thinner than I’d anticipated! And, of course, I also recently had issues in buying both fabric and yarn online, because in both cases, the website said they had more in stock than they actually had by the time they got to processing my orders. Both times, I had to make substitutions for things that cost more money. Aside from higher cost, the most annoying thing in both cases was that they were things I’d spent hours searching for in order to avoid wool! Blasted allergy…anyway. Hopefully I’ll have more hits on that count next year, since I can’t necessarily rely on Joann’s to have what I need or want.

My pattern/fabric combo4. Pantsapalooza. It’s not that I regret doing it, though I think I really could/should have managed the sewalong aspect of it much, much better. I guess since it was my first time hosting one, it’s a learning experience, right? And I did get usable trousers, but only one pair out of my intended five. So that’s not a palooza, that’s just pants! (Guess what I’m most likely sewing first in January…)

5. Buying vs. using. Yes, a few of these were projects I intended to get to quickly–my Darling Ranges dress that I actually bought fabric for twice (see #3 above), or the Reglisse dress that I found the perfect print for almost right away, for instance. And then the summer just disappeared. A few of these I actually did get to right away–I’m thinking specifically of the Hummingbird pattern, since I actually managed to jump in on the official sewalong and use up some stash to boot! And I did buy and use the plaid flannel in a timely fashion, which is unusual for me. But overall, I think I acquired a lot more fabrics and patterns this year than I have in recent years past, and didn’t necessarily use things up in a way to balance that out. (And it’s not even Christmas yet, and I can usually expect to get fabric for Christmas from my mom, too!) My husband and I are planning to really crack down on the budget come January so we can pay off some debt and save for some things we’re hoping to do, so this is something I really need to get under control again, and focus more on using what I have and being creative with it. (Incidentally, I loved the idea of the Sewcial Bee that I did last year, since it forced me to jump on fabric and patterns that were already in the stash! I hear rumors that there’s going to be more next year, and I hope that’s true!)

I did also lose track of yardage in vs. out this year, which is something I’ve been trying to keep track of. If I do succeed in my plan to get the room straightened up to start the new year, I do plan to re-tally everything that has significant yardage (like a yard or more) so I can start keeping tabs on that again.

Honorable mention: My #greendecember project. I got it cut out, then got caught up in a secret sewing frenzy, so that’s as far as it got. But it only gets honorable mention, because it’s another Renfrew top, which means there is a chance I can still actually get it sewed up before January 1!

A little taste of Pavlova

It took some serious pondering, but I decided to go ahead and post what I could of my ill-fated Pavlova cardi. After all, I did sew it. I did wear it twice before it got destroyed. And it was a stashbusting project, which means it did fit that particular sewalong.
Pavlova cardiAs you can see, this was during the wedding planning stage, since I’ve got all of those little paper sunflowers there! I took some pics on Donna so that I could capture a few of the details, figuring I could just get a pic of me actually wearing it on the honeymoon when I wasn’t so crunched for time. I ended up not actually wearing it at all while I was in Jamaica, because the nights were warm enough that even cold-blooded me didn’t need an extra layer! But I did wear it on both the first and last days for the airplane, and was glad for it– I just didn’t get a pic because I was in grungy travel mode (and wearing glasses, and tired).

Pavlova sleeve detail
I was really proud of how nicely the edges of these sleeves were finished! I had to think about it, with the somewhat bias cut to it, and the crinkled, lightweight nature of the fabric. But they were both serged and topstitched a bit so the seam would stay where I wanted it to. This was one of the details that survived, so I guess I did a good job there!

Pavlova hem detail
The hem wasn’t so lucky. I serged this to keep it from fraying, and then double-rolled it to enclose the serging and stitched it down. I kid you not when I say that the washing maching managed to entirely undo this hem, back down to the serging!

I would have been able to fix that, though it would have been annoying. The real problem is that it also ripped the neck facing apart, leaving a big, gaping, ragged-edged hole. And the fabric is so lightweight to begin with, that I don’t think it will hold up.

It’s a shame, really, because I’m still adapting to the temperatures that my new husband likes to keep the house at, and a lightweight layer would really come in handy here! But this really was an experimental top, and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Also, the fabric was free, so aside from the time investment, it wasn’t much of a loss. I guess I can chalk this one up as a muslin. Of course, this means I’m also afraid to wash my new Hummingbird top until I have a chance to photograph it, just in case!

the tie saga

First of all: I don’t believe that emerald green is really the color of the year. Either that, or no one listens to Pantone. Because if they did, people would actually be selling emerald green fabric, don’t you think?

So, my fiance requested very early in the planning process that I make him a tie. I say this in the most loving way possible–he’s not exactly what I could call a “stylish” man. The Anthony Lilore quote that Cidell posted recently–that is a very accurate description of his style. So given this (and the fact that he’s flat-out told me that I probably shouldn’t ever attempt sewing clothes for him, because he probably won’t wear them), I felt like I should honor his request.

IMG_0481My original plan was to make a sash for my dress and a tie for him out of the same fabric. The problem has been actually finding some fabric, because it is really hard to find nice fabric that is solid green and not either chartreuse or olive, neither of which would really work for a June wedding with sunflowers. (If this was a fall wedding, I might be all over the olive, but it’s not.) I finally found a piece of lightweight silk at Gorgeous Fabrics that was lableled “happy green”, and looked to be kind of a bluer shade of yellow-green. And this is where the dangers of fabric shopping on the internet comes into play, because I got it in and it was basically lime. I like lime green. I think it’s a very happy color. But it was also most definitely brighter than I wanted for the wedding, mostly because of trying to match accessories for me and the bridesmaids to that. So I ordered some kelly green dye from Dharma Trading Co. and decided to see what I could do.

IMG_0484I figured that doing the washing machine route would be the best for an even color job. And Doug has a top-loader machine, which is what is usually recommended for this. So since we were having a low-key hangout at his place for his birthday on Saturday anyway, he was fine with me experimenting.

So I got the fabric wet, put the dye in, and let it run through the cycle.

The result….

Yeah, it basically looks exactly the same as it did before, doesn’t it? With the annoying addition of a few red dots right in the middle of the fabric, and a loss of the nice silky feel that it had before. *facepalm*I did try washing it again on Monday–with fabric softener–but it doesn’t seem to have helped yet. I’m going to run it through again soon, since I got some things at Goodwill that I need to wash anyway.

So after I freaked out a little and he got me calmed down, we headed over to Michaels’ to see if we could get some other dye. The selection of greens was rather limited, but we got some dark green since it looked like it would turn out decent. At his suggestion, I just cut a narrow strip off of the bottom and did a test run first. It’s a good thing, because it basically turned out to be army green. (I don’t have a picture of this, and already threw the strip away, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.) At least now I know the washer dyes. So I gave up for the day and cleaned out the machine.

At this point, and after looking on Dharma again, I gave up and ordered a new piece of fabric from Mood on Sunday morning. It’s polyester, and I feel bad because I’m indulging myself with a silk dress and wanted to make him something nice too. But the powers-that-be are not working with me on the colors, you know? This also means that I’ve already broken my stashbusting pledge to not buy new fabric, but I think I can chalk this one up to special circumstances. I only bought a yard because at this point, the sash seems like more trouble than it’s worth. And at least with kelly green, I do have a better chance of finding jewelry to match. Assuming I can get it, because I also got a call last night saying that they don’t have it and wanted to talk to me about what my options are! I tried calling them back and it hung up both times–the original call had been during one of my lessons and I couldn’t pick up. So I guess I’ll call them today and see what’s up.

Seriously, people–why is it so hard to find solid green fabric?! The really annoying thing is that I need this fabric asap, so I can match the color to other things I need to get sorted really soon. Like centerpieces and cake.

This also means that I have about 3 yards of lime green silk with not much to do with it. Doug said multiple times that he likes the color. So I may try my hand at some lingerie. And maybe the Alma blouse, since I do have some skirts that a lime green top would look great with. If I can get this nice drape and hand back. Stupid dye.

Edit, 12:43 pm: I got back in touch with Mood, and was told that they wouldn’t get it in for 4-6 weeks! Which is kind of pushing it for a lot of the other things I need to match the color to. But the woman on the phone was very helpful, and I was able to swap it out for another piece that was the same price. And–get this–emerald. So hopefully that will be the end of the drama!

learning experiences

Remember this project?

As of tonight, I’m calling it quits. It is one skein of yarn away from being completely frogged. I was attempting to work on it while watching some tv with Doug earlier tonight, spent two entire episodes of Community trying to fix one spot where it looked like I’d accidentally added a stitch several rows back, made it look completely terrible, ended up crying a little out of sheer frustration, and then deciding I was done with this project. Really, seeing how I started it back in April, and only got through two skeins of yarn in what was supposed to be a relatively easy knitting project, especially compared to the Camille shrug, I should have known something was off with it.

Now that I’m a little calmer, I’m thinking that this was probably for the best. The shape of it was kind of tent-like, and I’ve been having to work so hard to try and make it a shape that I’d like better, when I probably would have been better off just starting with a project more suited to the shape and style of tops that I like better. Also, the lace panel would have meant that I’d have to layer it. And since summers around here tend to be hot and humid–last summer was a record-breaker in that department here, and this one is not far behind–the less layering I have to do, the better. So I’m going to finish unraveling it, and give the yarn a rest.  And from a learning perspective, I did successfully add shaping without instructions, even though I’ll never know now how it actually would have fit. And I did start teaching myself to do continental-style knitting, which I think might help with the wrist issues. I’m feeling fairly comfortable with it for knitting, at least–it remains to be seen how this goes with purling!

I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to knit in the next several months anyway, since I’ll have The Dress, plus a few other crafty wedding DIYs to take care of, if you’re interested in hearing about those as I do them! But if I do have knitting time, I think I’m going to concentrate on finishing up a few in-progress things–I have a scarf about halfway done to use up the yarn from my Counterpoint Hat, and a cowl I was making for a friend to use up some of the leftover yarn from the Cadence sweater. If I have time to knit after that, I’ll just work on some handwarmers and things of that sort. Doug likes to keep his house on the chilly side, so I’m going to need those little knitted accessories!

And hopefully, once the dust settles from all of this, I’ll have a better idea of what to do with 6 balls of purple hemp yarn.

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!

Odyssey tank progress, and a fail tale

First of all, thanks for all of the lovely, encouraging comments on the pants! After reading some of your thoughts, and since I have a little extra time this afternoon, I think I’m going to run over to Joann’s before my evening work and see if they have any alternate things in a closer color that I could use to replace those lacings. I only looked in the trims, but maybe I can find something in the jewelry section.

Since knitting was my main craft of last week, figured I should show where things stand now.

This is the front so far– not entirely finished, since I’ll have to add the neckline edging and weave in the ends, but it’s very close.

As of yesterday, this is how much I’ve gotten done on the back. I think I’m something like 30 rows in.

After much deliberation, I went ahead and ordered another ball of yarn from the same place. Since I only got something like 14 rows out of the third ball before I ran out, and after measuring how much I got per ball in the front several times, I decided that it’s highly unlikely that I have enough yarn to finish. I just hope the dyelot thing works out– I asked them for the same one if possible in the special instructions box.

(Of course, since I couldn’t justify paying shipping for 1 ball of yarn, I ended up ordering enough for another project. I guess I have a yarn stash now. Darn it!)

And in the interest of full disclosure, I do tend to write about my failures as well as my successes on here. And I’ve been meaning to share this story for awhile, it just kept getting put off because the pants were way more exciting. So here goes…

Some of you may remember that two summers ago, I attempted to make a mini-wardrobe, with varying degrees of success from project to project. One of the projects ended up being that my mom crocheted me a wrap out of this bamboo-acrylic yarn. Which was really sweet of her, but it ended up not really working out. Which was my fault– not only did I make the mistake of picking the yarn out before I got the main inspiration fabric in the mail, meaning it was the wrong color, I didn’t purchase enough of it to get a wrap with a functional length.

So after I started knitting, I unraveled it. After all, I’d never actually been able to use it, and I don’t like wasting things. Only problem is, this yarn was ugly. A color I never would have picked, if I hadn’t been trying to match this badly-conceived wardrobe. The picture doesn’t really show the color that great. On the website, they call it “Misty Taupe”. I call it “dirty concrete sidewalk” or “the color of boredom”. I think it also looks more tan on the website than it actually was–it’s like this tannish grey.

Or was this tannish grey, to be more precise. Knowing I would never, ever wear anything made out of this blah, uninspiring color, I decided that the obvious thing to do was to dye it. So I picked up a couple of packets of iDye at the store–both similar shades of green, one in the iDye Poly and one in the regular natural fiber, thinking that the combination would make it hit both the bamboo and the acrylic.

I had envisioned this nice, mossy green color. This is what I got instead.

Pretty much the exact shade of the weather-beaten wood on the family’s old playhouse deck. That’s right, people, I went from taupe to a slightly darker taupe. (And this is what it looked like when wet– after it dried, it was definitely more grey-looking than this.)

Which left me with the debate–what to do with six skeins of still-icky-colored yarn? After awhile, I figured I should probably at least wind it into balls and put it somewhere, because I’d had it drying on a flipped-over music stand and I needed to use that again. So I grabbed the skeins, the swift and the yarn ball winder, and proceeded to wind the first two with relatively little pain. A few annoyances, to be sure, because despite having tied it in quite a few places around the skein, they kind of fell apart in the dye bath a little. But relatively little pain.

The third skein was an entirely different story. About halfway through winding it up, it got so ridiculously tangled that I had to take the remaining yarn off of the swift, spend the next two hours untangling it from the opposite end (mainly because I’m stubborn and I didn’t want to let the yarn win), and wind it back onto the swift.

Then I started winding it again, and it fell off of the yarn ball winder. And of course the middle immediately got all sucked together so I couldn’t put it back on. I should have taken a picture, but it was around midnight at this point and I was annoyed.

So then I wound the entire skein back onto the swift, and tried to wind it a third time. At which point one of the pegs fell out of the swift, leaving it in a tangled mess once more. I finally ended up cutting a big chunk off and called it a night.

So the next day, and after bouncing it off of my mom, my crocheter sis-in-law and one of my knitting friends, I did the only thing I could do that would leave my sanity intact:

I still feel a little bad about throwing it out, but ugly and unmanageable was just too killer of a combo. So I guess the moral of the story is either a) use an all-natural fiber yarn to dye with, b) tie it up a heck of a lot more than I did, or c) leave yarn-dyeing to the professionals in yarn shops and on Etsy.

(Incidentally, this seems to be a summer of bad dye jobs, given the pants– I originally tried to dye some off it with RIT dye that was pretty much the exact same color as my pants on the box, but came out a chocolate brown on the cording, and then the tea dye came out way too light. I have one other dye experiment I wanted to attempt at some point before it gets cold again, again with the iDye poly…. I’m kind of scared to try it now!)