A quickfire shirt

Renfrew TopAnother FESA project down! I usually feel like I’m pretty slow at sewing, compared to a lot of bloggers that I follow, but this shirt took me only two days from start to finish–and that includes some single-layer cutting! I had two unexpected days off of work recently, due to some nasty, rainy days. (My garden center job involves sitting at an outdoor register, and it’s already been pretty slow lately, so rain = even more dead. So they told me to just stay home.) The Thurlow pants were already at the point where I just needed to sew the hems by hand, so I figured I’d save that for tv time and make something new instead.

It’s a Renfrew, of course, since I’ve been talking about revisiting this pattern since the first one I’d made. And I think that was actually the best possible choice for this fabric. It’s hard to tell how a fabric will handle as flat yardage sometimes, and I discovered as I was working with it that the edges have a very strong tendency to curl to the outside, and develop little tiny runs in the fabric in the process. So a pattern with bands at the sleeves and hem was the perfect counterbalance, and I’m glad I didn’t try to do one with a more traditional hem! Especially since I’d been going back and forth for quite some time about what this fabric wanted to be.
Renfrew CloseupI did have to fiddle with the print placement a bit, due to the stripes, and I think it worked out well overall. I do wish the stripes were a little more matched up at the seams, though. Despite all of my pins and careful placement, it did shift around a bit during serging. (Which was surprising, since the fabric generally clung to itself quite a bit.) But I like the way the thin stripe looks as the neck binding, and even though I didn’t quite have the yardage to make that stripe line up between the body and the arms, I think it still looks pretty good overall!
I’d originally altered this pattern to make the waist curve in a few sizes smaller, but for this one, I cut it more of a straight size 8. The fabric is sheer enough that I knew from the start I’d have to wear this as a layering piece, and with its clingy tendencies, I wanted to give it a little extra wiggle room to make it easier to pull over my camisoles. I also did a cheater adjustment on the arm length, and just cut that to the largest size with the width of the regular size 8. It worked perfectly, and I’m quite happy to not have my wrists hanging out like they often do with long-sleeved shirts! I’ll be cranking out at least one more of these before the cold weather ends, and this pretty much clinches it as my favorite knit top pattern!
Renfrew, Take 2And hey, look, a different backdrop than usual! We spent the weekend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, since I was in a friend’s wedding. The ceremony and reception were held at the Landis Valley Museum, in and around this barn. I managed to get my husband to take these pics before the rehearsal started, since we got there about an hour before everyone else and had time to walk around. It matches my shirt pretty well, doesn’t it?


This was my artist friend (the one I made that apron and placemat set for recently), and I have to say, her vision turned out quite lovely! The grapevines with the twinkle lights were already there, but we hung the paper lanterns ourselves. There were a lot of people helping to set up, so even though there was a lot of work, it was still a relaxing, fun time.


I did a little more crafting for this, too! The night before the wedding, the rest of the bridesmaids, the bride and I made our bouquets.None of us had really done floral arranging before, unless you count my trial-and-error artificial centerpieces that I made for my own wedding, but I think they turned out nicely! It just took us a few tries, that’s all.


I also made that little banner hanging up there by the dessert table. I don’t have a decent close-up because there wasn’t time, but I brought it home with me, so I can take one if anyone is interested.

I have one more recently finished project that needs photographing (knitting this time), and I’d better get on it, since the Doctor Who Sewalong is officially on now!

another wedding shower gift

The shower was over the weekend, so I can finally show the related sewing projects!

As I said before, these were for my friend Nicole–she’s the one real life friend I have who occasionally sews, so I knew she’d appreciate it! Though we probably won’t be sewing together again, since she moved to Boston to be closer to her fiance and will be staying there after her wedding. I’ll miss her, but I am happy for her!

IMG_0710I like to run with a small theme for wedding gifts, even when I’m buying straight off the registry, and this one was no exception. She’d asked for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the cover was so pretty, I couldn’t resist! And I already knew I wanted to make her an apron, since one of our last fun sewing adventures together was making Anthropologie-inspired aprons. The apron she made for that was actually a wedding gift for one of her friends, and I thought she should have one herself. So I went with the same apron inspiration she’d chosen, the Tea & Crumpets apron. (Since this one’s on sale, I doubt I saved any money–but I’ve always felt that white is very impractical for an apron that one wears while actually cooking, unless you’re a professional chef who isn’t as sloppy with the tomato sauce! Plus I was guessing at what colors she might actually have in her kitchen, based on her registry and Pinterest boards.) This cute bee fabric jumped out at me immediately, but it was really hard to find something that matches it! I’m really grateful that my quilter mom went along to help me out.

IMG_0711I drafted most of the pattern myself, based on an apron that I’d been given at my own shower. But I did borrow the pocket from the Cake Pavlova skirt, because it looked like a perfect match!  And since I have one or two of these skirts in mind for some stashbusting, it was good to have a chance to practice the pattern a bit.

IMG_0713The other thing I made was this set of placemats. To continue the French theme, we found this fabric with French lettering on it. But the one I really fell in love with was the bicycle fabric, because it just seemed so perfect for her. And it really did end up being perfect, because her grand entrance to her shower, which we held outside, was riding in on her bicycle! I will admit that my mom did help me finish these up, since I was running out of time and needed to do one side of the binding by hand. I will also admit that the corners are not nearly as nice as the ones that my mom usually makes, because I completely forgot her instructions for them. I guess I’ll have to consult with her on that later, because I’m sure I’ll be making some more placemats at some point, if only so we have another set. (Mom made me some for my own bridal shower.)

She was really excited about it, as were most of the people at the shower–I got a lot of compliments on my sewing skills! (Especially once someone asked me if I’d made the dress I was wearing, too.) I’m not quite done sewing for her yet, as this week’s project is altering her wedding dress! Which, thankfully, will be a relatively easy job. The dress fits her perfectly in the bodice, so all I have to do is hem it. Of course, it’s also 3 layers, the inner lining is silk charmeuse, and the outer layer is silk chiffon! My plan is to just do a narrow machine hem on the charmeuse and the outer lining. I may hand-stitch the chiffon, though, since it’s a little crinkly and I don’t want it to go all lettuce-y on me.

I’m also pretty close to finishing my Sewcial Bee dress. I’d like to reinforce the midriff, since the serged stitches were pulling a bit when I put it on Donna to let the hem hang. I also need to figure out exactly how I want to hem it–I don’t want to just leave it raw, because it’s a pretty thin jersey and I suspect it might develop some runs if I do that. But if all goes well, I’ll have both of these dresses done in time for Pantsapalooza!

green stuff

Not the most creative title, but that’s what I’ve been working on this weekend.

This was last night’s project. I have yet another wedding to go to later this fall, and the shower is next Friday. I wasn’t going to be able to go at first due to a mixup in the invitations that meant I didn’t get it before I made other plans, but since the shower was originally supposed to be the same day that Hurricane Irene came through here, it got rescheduled. I ended up buying most of her gift but I wanted to give her something handmade as well (especially since she’s from the same group of friends as the bride-to-be that the cherry apron was for!) Didn’t have the time or funds for a whole apron, but I did make her these potholders from a pattern that my mom had on hand and some fabrics left over from my quilt. I actually really liked how these potholders turn out–this might become the go-to pattern the next time I need to make a shower gift!

I spent the majority of today starting off my Vogue dress, and got the bodice pretty much sewn together. So here’s the front so far…. (sitting a little lopsided on the dummy, now that I look at the picture, but hopefully I can fix that when it’s on myself!)

And here’s the back, though not quite how it’ll end up (since the seam is  pinned to the outside.) I think I’ll have to tweak the back shoulder part a bit, maybe shorten it up, but it’s only basted on right now so that will be easy enough to fix. The zipper is supposed to separate the back a bit more, so I may need to take some of the length out there, too. Guess I’ll have to actually try it on to see, but I’m all sewed out for today!

The surprising thing is that it looks like I’m going to end up doing this entirely on the machine instead of the serger, which I haven’t done on a knit project in awhile! But there’s so many places where you have to stop sewing at a certain place or sew on stay tape and that sort of stuff. I’ve been using the walking foot on my machine and it’s helped quite a bit.

I’m ready to kick back now….maybe I’ll see if I can get some work done on that second swatch for the knitalong.

Executive Decisions

Since weekend camping and the usual crazy Monday/Tuesday work schedule has left me unable to sew, I’ve spent the time pondering sewing instead. And here’s the conclusions I’ve come to…

1. The dress for my brother’s wedding. After several suggestions that I might be better off getting a heavier fabric for that dress pattern, I’ve decided to go with the simpler BWOF pattern over the Vogue one. I have to admit I’ve been a little nervous about that lightweight charmeuse holding up to all the ruching. But since that fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, I want to use it! Apart from that, I’m also thinking that a) a simpler pattern might be better in terms of sewing time, since I’ve been kind of limited this spring and I have this summer wardrobe I want to make (and still hoping to fit in some quickie projects on the side), and b) this dress has cap sleeves, vs. the Vogue pattern’s spaghetti straps, which might be much better for an outdoor wedding. Even though it’s now settled on the beginning of October, the weather here can be rather unpredictable that time of year– anywhere from Indian summer to time to break out the sweaters! Plus I think it’ll look better with a wrap than the more heavily ruched dress would, and with my propensity to get cold…

As for the Vogue pattern, I’d still like to try it out sometime. But I’m thinking I might use that for a little black dress. Since every girl is supposed to have one, right? And being a musician, I can never have too much funky black.

2. The jeans. After spending some more time on Thursday playing around with a bunch of pins to see if I could get a better fit on the leg, I’ve decided that to simplify things, I’m just going to use the old masking-tape-on-the-ready-to-wear trick and tweak the pattern from there. So after trying on my three best-fitting pairs of jeans this afternoon, I’ve decided which one I’m going to use. I will need to make a couple of changes– the pockets are crappy little tiny things that I can only shove my fingertips in, and the rise is lower than I’d prefer (I only bought them because they fit so well otherwise and I do tend to wear longer shirts when possible.) But hopefully this will at least give me an idea of the shape to work with.

Now that it’s over…

…I can finally show what all I’ve been working on over the last 6 months or so for my friend’s wedding that was this past Saturday. So I made 3 of the bridesmaids’ shrugs (all but the girl to the left of the bride)….

…sewed on at least half of those little blue beads on her dress (I wish I had a picture of the train, but I’m at the mercy of my friends on photos, since my camera was being completely uncooperative that day and refused THREE sets of rechargeable batteries, one of which being fresh out of the charger!), as well as that insert in the halter top, made 5 sets of the jewelry that the bride was wearing (as well as her mom’s earrings, which can’t be seen)…

…sewed the blue ribbon on the edge of her veil…

…and hemmed the front of her dress shorter so that her blue shoes could be seen. (Cobalt blue is her favorite color and she really wanted it in her outfit!)

Whew! I think that’s everything. So that’s what I’ve been doing nearly every Sunday since October. I’ll admit it was getting kind of stressful near the end, especially since stuff kept coming up that I wasn’t originally supposed to have to do– like the third jacket, and her mom’s earrings. And I really hope I never have to put that much work into one wedding again unless I’m the bride! But I’m still glad I was able to help her out with her day– it gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her beforehand, and since she and her new husband are leaving for his home Down Under today and it’ll be at least a couple of years before I see her again, that was definitely a good thing.

Even so, I’m glad I can just focus on making stuff for myself again for awhile!

And some exciting news– Gwen at After the Dress… recently had her 100th post giveaway, and very generously decided to give away a gift certificate to Spoonflower, as well as some help from Etsy designer Miss Black Pepper with making a design for it. And I won!! So now I just need an idea for some custom-printed fabric. I’m thinking it might be cool to do something with sunflowers, since they’re my favorite and it’s hard to find fabric with them that doesn’t look all country or cutesy. So it would be nice to have a sunflower dress in a print more appropriate for a 28-year old instead of an 8- or 48-year old… Must think about this.

Progress and Procrastination

Seeing as how I’ve spent much of the weekend watching Jane Austen movies (finishing Pride & Prejudice now, and watched Sense & Sensibility this afternoon as well), figured the alliteration was appropriate!

So here’s my update for the weekend.
Friday, Progress: Got the zipper sewed into my skirt, and I must say I did a rather good job this time! I really do think that hand-basting the zipper in first makes a world of difference, as I’ve discovered the last couple of times I’ve done a non-invisible zipper. Also got the facings sewn in.
Friday, Procrastination: I still have to sew the facings down to the zipper, edge-finish the slits, and hem it. Which I haven’t done yet.

Saturday, Progress: I have 4 scrapbook albums I need to cover, and started on one of them– got the fabric cut out (and actually measured it this time, because I figured I’ve been doing this long enough that I just need a consistent number!) and started gluing it onto one side. I also started sewing together my purse for spring and summer– got the pockets sewn on, I have all the lining/batting/outside pieces basted together, and I’m working on getting the sides/bottom on. Discovered that when enlarging the pattern, I didn’t elongate the single-piece side/bottom enough, and did some slicing and dicing to remedy that.
Saturday, Procrastination: In my defense, both of these are not my fault. I did not finish gluing the fabric onto the album, because that’s when Nicole got here to use my serger/hang out. So I started working on the purse then instead. (I knew I wouldn’t need a serger for that one, so it seemed like the perfect project to to work on for that– thus the skirt procrastination.) And I did not get any further in the purse, because that’s when my friends decided to kidnap me (literally– they used a blindfold and water guns) and make me go out to dinner and eat chocolatey desserts and celebrate my impending birthday. Aren’t they so mean? (Seriously… I have the best friends in the world.)

Sunday, Progress: I did not continue either of these sewing or gluing projects today, because I’m not feeling well. (No, that is not an indication of what I was doing with my friends last night. I’m just kind of sick.) So since I’m less nauseous and lightheaded when I’m staying still, I decided to forgo the sewing in favor of the earrings for Susannah’s wedding that I’ve been procrastinating on. Which I then had to put aside when Susannah actually called– today was the last day we were getting together to work on her wedding ensemble. So while Joy worked on the bustle, I pinned and sewed a ribbon around the edge of her veil. So my part in that is done. Also, I did spend some time today on Pattern Review looking up information about the patterns for my mini-wardrobe that I haven’t used yet. Particularly on the jeans, since I’ve decided I’m going to make them first. (Particularly since I can use them the soonest– I’m basically down to 3 pairs of jeans that somewhat fit and aren’t too torn up to wear, and out of those, one is faded to be lighter than I’d like and gaps in the back, one fits almost perfectly but the legs are too short for me, and the third really gaps in the back and is in all honesty a bit too big for me, but I loved the back pocket embroidery too much to pass them up.) So I’m thinking that I’m going to go in this order: Jeans, short-sleeved peasant-style top, long skirt, first sleeveless top, second sleeveless top and long dress (these two are in the same fabric so I’d prefer to cut them both out at once), shorts. I think I’m going to have to make muslins for some of them, too–definitely the jeans, and I already got the fabric for that, and the shorts, and at least the top of the dress (the pattern reviews seem to indicate that there’s some major issues with fitting the back.) I’ve used patterns #2 and 3 before, and I think I’ll be ok to wing it on the others and adjust as I go, but I just don’t trust pant-type things to fit without testing.
Sunday, Procrastination: Which is actually future procrastination. These earrings are kind of a 3-step thing, and I’m one earring away from being done step 1. But once I finish that last bit, I’m just going to put it away for the rest of the night and veg out in front of the tv/computer. The dizzy headache just requires minimal concentration, I think. Off to do that.


Had a sewing day with my friend Nicole yesterday, so she could use my serger to make a knit dress. And she loves using the serger now. She’s going to have to come down again because she didn’t finish, but I think I’ve made a convert.

And I got a pretty significant chunk of the bridesmaid shrugs done yesterday– did a test and discovered that yes, I can machine-sew the trim! So I’m at 2/3 done for that. And then I just have to assemble and sew in the linings. Guess I’d better get on that… I just want them done so I can sew MY stuff again!


It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve put up here. But right now, I am all about using stuff up. And this has the dual function of using up scraps cut from muslin pattern tests (and eventually the test runs themselves) and spools of almost-empty thread. I used up two tonight on just this little piece.

So what is this for, you may ask? This is me finally starting an organizer for my jewelry stash, because I’m tired of digging through a jumbled pile of earrings and untangling 15 different necklaces every time I put an outfit together. I’ve been neglecting my accessories out of sheer laziness/frustration with it as of late, and that’s just not right because I have so many fun hand-crafted pieces of jewelry. So I’m taking advantage of my current organizing mood as of late. (Not to mention wanting to procrastinate on those bridesmaid shrugs.) And hoping that this ends up being one of those things that is so ugly that it’s kind of cool. 😀

I think I created a monster with that craft supply organization day. Since then, I finished cataloging my fabric stash on Saturday. (The grand total was something like 70 pieces of fabric that need to get used up! But I’m happy because I gave the two pieces I wasn’t willing to even catalog to my fellow sewing bridesmaid on Sunday. She actually wears pinkish stuff, and I never do, so hopefully she’ll find some good use for them.) And, since I still didn’t really have the time or inclination to start on those shrugs, I’ve also started making myself a catalog of my pattern stash. I have 3 bins full of patterns. (I should have 4, possibly 5, because I also have a bunch that just sit on the shelf on top of one of said bins.) I made myself a little form in Word for stuff like pattern # and description, required yardage and notions, etc. And then I’ve been scanning in the technical drawings and bringing those into the doc and printing it out. (On the recycled paper that wasn’t working so hot in large quantities for BurdaStyle patterns, so yay for that.) I’m writing in the info on the printed form because it’s just easier than retyping and deleting everything every time. And then they’re going in a binder with dividers for what type of pattern it is. It’s kind of fun to see what all I have, and have already found a couple of patterns in my stash that just might work for using up some of the smaller yardages I have, so yay for that!

Otherwise, let’s see… I’ve almost finished tearing apart 2 pairs of jeans for a reconstructed skirt, and pretty much busted a seam ripper in the process. I got some fabric in the mail today (some Amy Butler that I’m going to make a new spring/summer purse out of, as soon as I make up or find a pattern to adapt. I might have to raid my mom’s stash, because she has a ton of funky purse patterns!) So let’s see… that brings my total so far up to 2 stash pieces I have to use. I also stopped procrastinating, somewhat, and cut out the three shrugs and linings today. And started sewing the muslin scraps– that was because I was between students and didn’t have a whole lot of time.

Sometimes I just don’t want to sew.

I’ve had people ask me before if I would ever consider trying to make money by sewing. Admittedly, I have gone back and forth on it, but when it comes down to it, I really don’t think I would want to. See, I have this tendency to not want to sew when it’s something I have to sew. Like, for instance, the pantsuit that I spent so much time on in December. I’m in one of those moods right now, because right now, I have to make those shrug jackets to go along with the bridesmaid dresses for my friend’s wedding. It wasn’t so bad when it was only two, but now that I have to make 3 of the 4, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a lot of work. And it’s not like I haven’t done anything at all– I cut out and sewed together the muslin over the weekend, and fitted it on the other two bridesmaids to see what changes need to be made. But after all the additional work that went into the shower (which was Sunday–and incidentally, Kaylee was a hit), I kind of need a break from wedding stuff! After all, when you’re as single as it gets, it’s just not healthy to have weddings on the brain all the time.

So I had the entire day off yesterday–wasn’t supposed to, but we had some bad weather that prevented me from driving out to do my flute teaching–and I didn’t sew at all. That’s not to say that I wasn’t crafty, though. I did a LOT of scrapbook work yesterday–got out the stamps and embossing stuff and made some embellishments, and I typed up (and even printed out!) some journaling, trimmed some papers, sketched out a few more layouts, stuff like that. I still have some work to do (mainly on the writing end) but I should have several pages that will only require minimal prep work before assembling for our crafty weekend. And since I was working mostly in my room, I also got to spend the day chatting with a couple good friends over IM.

I probably won’t end up starting the shrugs until the weekend– tomorrow is band day, so I have more work than during the rest of the week ATM, and I also have a flute demo for kids that I’m trying to get ready for that’s on Thursday. But I’ve got till March, so I think I can allow myself a little procrastination. There’s only 2 pattern pieces, it won’t be that hard. In the meantime, I’ve still got scrapbook work to do, and embroidery to work on so I can actually sew that shirt, and pictures of Friday’s reconstructed shirt to take.

Meet Kaylee.

Kaylee is a kangaroo. (By virtue of the ears, because otherwise she would look very much like a dinosaur, I’m afraid.) I did most of the work on New Year’s Day, and officially finished this on Friday night, but then I spent all day Saturday on the Great Craft Stash Reorganization, and she had to go into hiding on Sunday, and I forgot to take her out for her photoshoot until today.

Kaylee is for Susannah’s bridal shower, which is coming up on Sunday. We’re doing an Australia theme, since that’s where her fiance is from and where she’ll be moving to. So she’s going to be doing double duty as decorations and gift wrap–Susannah couldn’t register for much because of electronic compatibility and shipping weight issues, so the bridesmaids are just giving her money. Which will go in the pouch.

Oh, and the name? A tribute to Firefly, since Susannah, Joy and myself watched the series in its entirety while doing the beading on her dress. And that name fits better than, say, River or Inara.

I made the pattern myself, and it was mostly from things on hand. The dark brown fleece has been around in the scrap bin for quite some time. I did have to buy the light brown fleece, and the stuffing. (But I got organic bamboo stuffing, so that made me happy. It’s so soft!) The buttons were also on hand. And, to give a little extra weight in the base and tail to help her stand up straight, I added a little extra filling…dried beans! (My mom’s idea, which worked beautifully.)

Other crafty stuff that’s been going on: I sewed most of the pajama pants that I’m working on together last night–just need to do the elastic waistband and the hemming. So that’s tonight’s project. I’ve also spent a good bit of down time over the last two days in matching up photos to paper for my scrapbook. So I’m not completely caught up on photos I had printed out–decided to hold off on Julie’s wedding pics in case I want to buy any of the professional shots (like the bridesmaids on the mini-rock wall in my church’s gym!) , and I was trying to limit myself to what would fit in my layout storage box. (That didn’t quite work– I have some to work on that involve saving bulkier things like multiple cards and such, or just so many photos that it wouldn’t lie in the box flat, so I have something like 8 or 9 that I’m trying to get ready for the scrapbook binge weekend that are currently getting stored in page protectors that wouldn’t work for my albums because they stick out too far, just like I used to do before I got said box.) But it’s still a rather large dent. So now I just need to finish off the journalings, and try to get as much stuff cropped and such before mid-February, and I’m looking at a super-productive weekend that will go a long way in reaching my goal of finally getting my albums from the grad school years and on caught up! (Which, unfortunately, includes 2008 in its entirety. Oh well.)

Off to the sewing room with me– want to get those pants done before the Lost recap at 8! One of the few shows where I cannot sew and watch at the same time. (Photo cropping, on the other hand… 😉