October 28, 2013

Doing the smart thing.

This is just a quick one, guys.

Life is getting fast up in here.  Within about a year and a half, I'll hopefully be graduating with my Ph.D., which means now is crunch time.

Crunch time means maybe enough time for sewing, but definitely not enough time for blogging.

For now.

Thank you to everyone who has read or commented on anything I've put up here over the last few years, and you're really the only reason I'm announcing this "indefinite hiatus" as opposed to just letting things fade into oblivion.  Hopefully a little bit of the time I'll save can be devoted to commenting more, and keeping up with all of you, instead of stressing out about what I'm going to post when I have nothing to show.

Yes, I know there are people who only post once a month and are perfectly happy with that.  I'm finding I'm not one of them.  Maybe I'll be able to get back to it and really dig my teeth in down the line, but when I know that this blank white space is up here and unfilled, it's a nagging voice at the back of my head that I really don't need right now.

My sanity thanks you.

I'll still keep up on Craftster (fishstix43, hit me up with a PM) and the email address associated with this blog will still forward to my inbox, if you want to get a hold of me.

But for now, I'm out, yo.  Peace. :)

October 15, 2013

Five Months Later....

So...... these are the pants that would not die.  I took forever to cut the main fabric, then another couple months til I managed to cut the lining, pocket bags and interfacing, and even longer to actually sew any pieces together.  I honestly don't know what my blockage was with these, but I just could. not. get. motivated.  It could be because they're about as basic a garment as you can get - plain khaki trousers - or because I felt guilty about skipping the welt pockets (just couldn't be bothered when I wasn't sure I'd even like the cut of the pants).  For whatever reason, these would not move, and that held up everything else. Usually by the time I get something cut out (the part I hate), I'm so excited to get to the good part (the actual sewing) that I'm on a roll, but not with this one.

Were the results worth the wait? I think so!

They fit! For a first run, I'm pretty happy with the finishing on the outside - I'm especially proud of the fly front.  What I would improve on next time would be the inside.  If you're faint of heart, look away now....

Yikes.  The biggest problem here was that I misunderstood the waistband instructions.  When done correctly, the lining part of the waistband will cover most of the messy insides in here.  It's functional this way (with a few extra tacks to keep some things in place) but it is ugly.  The other thing I'm not 100% satisfied with the back fit.  There's a little bit of lumpiness and it's a little bit crooked, but again, functional. My fabric choice was definitely sub-par, as they don't really have enough heft to keep from wrinkling, but I knew that going in. All in all, these will make perfectly good lab pants, and they definitely have enough room to fit long johns underneath during the winter.

For the next go-round, I've got grey bottomweight fabric that I believe I got from a Craftster swap.  I'll obviously do the waistband correctly, try to further tweak the back, and maybe narrow the legs just a smidge.  We'll see if I get up the gumption to do the welt pockets this time.  Before that, I've got Simplicity 2192 already cut out from when I was going to make it for GenCon (maybe I'll finish before Halloween?) and a Renfrew, because I know I'll need some quick and easy projects in between the stages of that coat.  It's almost 40 steps, I believe, according to the pattern instructions.  It's a big 'un, but it's already cut out, so I need to get it finished and out of my way before I start anything new.  The excitement of planning fall garments will hopefully spur me on to knock it out quickly.  Here's hoping, anyway.

September 17, 2013

Not Dead, Just Busy...

And in the vein of this post, I'm not apologizing for it.  Just sharing.

So since the last time I've posted, here's what went down:
  • 2 weddings
  • 4 glorious days of GenCon
  • Presenting my work at the American Chemical Society national meeting
  • One department picnic successfully organized
  • Made a game-winning play in said department picnic softball tournament
  • Surprised my 4-year-old niece at school
  • Met my now 4-week-old niece!
     In the midst of all this, I maintained my normal 70 hour workweek, picked up another hobby I don't need (the Pokemon trading card game) and just generally ran out of steam for sewing.  However, I started catching up on all the sewing blogs about a week ago, and lo and behold the mojo is back!  As of this weekend, my sewing area is cleaned off (since it's right inside the door, "stuff" accumulates on the table unless I'm actively using it), and my Thurlows only need the waistband and a hem.  Unfortunately a few pieces seem to have disappeared, so this may require some re-cutting of lining bits.  But it's progress.

     Moving forward, I am also going to try really hard to only keep one project on the go at any given time.  At work, I am constantly saying how I have to keep my lab bench organized and everything well-labeled because I am too scatterbrained to keep track of what is where in my head.  The same needs to go for my sewing table, and it's too hard to do that when I've got more than one thing going.  This should also lead to completed projects in a more timely manner, if I'm not starting ten things and never finishing any.  In theory, anyway.  I'll leave you with the most exciting sewing development in my sewing room lately.

The iron situation has now gone from this....

To this!

 It's got heft!  And efficient steam production!  And doesn't leak all over everything!  It's no gravity feed, but it's a significant step up.  Better iron=better looking final projects=more motivation to sew.  More soon!

P.S.  So happy that sweater weather is back!  I hate winter, but I love sweaters!

August 5, 2013

The Purge

So about a week ago, I had a terrible start to my day.  I got to work in my scrubby T-shirt and holey tennis shoes, when suddenly I remembered I was supposed to have lunch with a seminar speaker that day.  I rushed home, showered (because TMI, I was totally trying to get away with unwashed hair, too), and changed into nice clothes.  At which point I realized how much better I felt about attacking my mountain of work for that day.  The person who had dragged herself in with a bad attitude ('cause it was Monday, dontchaknow) was totally different from the person who showed up nicely dressed.

As often happens with me, when I'm seized by an idea I obsess about it, and by the time I got off work that night I knew exactly what I was going to do.  I got a big Rubbermaid container from our storage unit and set to purging my wardrobe.  Anything that didn't fit, didn't flatter or wasn't comfortable went straight into the plastic bin.  The key to this was that afterwards, the bin just went into the bottom of the closet (I had to move all the shoes that had been down there to a high shelf because Gimli kept chewing on them - sometimes he thinks he's a dog, not a cat).  That way, I didn't have any regrets, and if I realized that I desperately needed something out of the box, it was right there and not already given away to the thrift store.  But at the same time, I could go to my (much emptier) closet and know that whatever I picked out would be well fitting and look good (for a given value of good), and I wouldn't have to feel bad about looking at a closet overstuffed with clothes while feeling like I had nothing to wear.

How did it go?  Quite well, I think.  I overfilled the tub to the point where I can't get the lid on, and alleviated all the bursting dresser drawers and made a serious dent in the closet.  Unfortunately, I was quite surprised by how much I still had left!  Granted, a decent percentage of this is bulky sweaters and layering thermals for the winter, and I still have to go through a few of my nicer dresses and really figure out what still fits, but this is where I'm at now.  Part of me already wants to get rid of the bin and get it out of there, but I will do my best to curb that feeling until I'm sure there's nothing in there that I need.  With a lot of things removed, it definitely makes it easier to see things that I'm lacking (non-t-shirt tops) and have more than I will probably wear of (skirts). Maybe I'll shop to fill those gaps, and maybe I'll sew.  Either way, it's nice to be able to see what I'm really working with.

What's left after the purge
All the things I pulled out
Today I got dressed in one of my standard Me-Made-May outfits: a skirt and my polka dot renfrew, and set off to face the day with a good attitude.  I know it won't always make me want to go to work, but hopefully making the decision easier and having less scuzzy outfit options will help a little.  Has anyone else had these crazy purging sprees or is it just me?

I'm not sure when exactly I"ll have a chance to take proper pictures of everything I've been working on lately, but I'll do my best to catch up during August.  There's also this little issue of a blogiversary that I missed, so I'm still brewing about exactly what to do about that....

July 29, 2013

A Cameraless Blogger is a Sad Blogger...

...especially because I actually have been making progress and have things I want to show you!

I finished a muslin for my steampunk coat, made from Simplicity 2172, and am cranking on the real version for Gen Con.

At the same time, I am making good progress on a pair of khaki Thurlows I cut out ages ago, and have cleaned and reorganized the sewing area in preparation for easier projects after Gen Con is over.  I just  wanted to pop in and say that I'm still here.  I have a wedding to go to for a childhood friend this Saturday, so I will have to rip the entire apartment apart to find that darn charger. Then the posts will come, oh how they will come.  Until then, I hope everyone's summer sewing is going well (or fall sewing if you're one of those people ahead of the game)!

July 13, 2013

Why hello there...

... I'm not sure if you remember me, since it's been over a month since I blogged.  This month kind of got away from me for a variety of reasons, none of which are terribly relevant.  The important bit is that I'm back, and with a finished garment, no less!

This maxi skirt started life as the bottom half of what was to be New Look 6864, at least a year ago, probably more.

     I went to the trouble of attempting a sort of FBA for the front, as those triangle tops are never as big as I need them to be comfortable.  I meant to do the main pieces in the print and the straps and waist in a contrast color.  I cut the print pieces out but never found a good contrast color.  In the process, the contrast pattern pieces got lost, I gained some (not a lot, but some) fitting knowledge and realized the top would be wonky as all get out, and I honestly just wanted to get something wearable out of the whole darn mess.  Considering I wore it twice within the first week after I finished it, I think I succeeded.

I also used a different elastic waistband than my usual lazy elastic casing.  I know I didn't make it up, but I don't remember where I saw it.  I just serged one side of the elastic to the waistband, then flipped it in and stitched over the top. Easy-peasy and so much less bulky, which was important since this is a decently heavy polyester.  I would have a picture, except my camera cord is currently missing. :p

There's really not a whole lot to say about this skirt: it was easy to make, I can dress it up or down, and I think it's a flattering style for me.  All-around win.  Next up, I've almost finished the muslin for a GenCon costume for myself (as opposed to every other one I've made, which were all for my BF).  As soon as I find my camera cord, I'll get it up here!

June 4, 2013


 I told you there'd be recons a-coming!  Actually, most of these were done right before or during May. They're not complicated to deserve separate posts, but just a quick look at each...

Skinny Khaki Pants:
Why yes, it is the same terrible mirror selfie from when I wore these in Me-Made-May!

    These bad boys were culled the last time that I went through my pants for being too short, which doesn't look good at all with a flared pant.  I had really gotten my use out of them (they were part of my work uniform for Sears in high school!) but I thought I might extend their life a little longer by trying to make them skinnies, which look okay at ankle length.  There was very little method to my madness, which basically consisted of pinning the sides out, transferring the markings to the other side, and sewing them up and trying them on.
Guys.  This is why I don't take process pics. But it shows how much flare I had to take out.
    Of course, the first leg fit perfect this way, but the second one took a lot of tweaking.  But in the end, I like them, I don't think it's terribly obvious that they didn't start out as skinnies, and I can try out the trend for free, while stretching a piece of clothing a little further.  Win.

Brown velvet skirt:

This one is as easy as they come.  One of the few pieces I kept from the stuff I got off Freecycle with my cutting table was a floor-length brown velvet skirt (still with the Goodwill tags on) that was too small for me at the waist, but widened out as it went down.  Solution: hack it in the middle, throw in a new elastic waistband, and boom! New, shorter velvet skirt for one night of work.  Though this really should be a fall skirt, I'll probably try to style it once or twice for spring.  It could be a disaster, but luckily no one at work actually cares what I look like, so no big loss.

Grey sweatshirt skirt:

This one isn't a true recon, necessarily.  It's making a completed sewn item work for me.  I only had a small amount of this soft grey sweatshirt material, and for some reason, I decided I'd like to make a skirt with it.  I used the straight skirt pattern from Sew What! Skirts, and completed it, beautiful invisible zipper and all, before I remembered that I need darts in a skirt waist.  Lots of darts!  I didn't want to rip the zipper out (especially not now that I've given away the machine that actually had an invisible zipper foot) and honestly just wanted to either fix it or ruin it, but either way get it off the table.  In the end, I ended up just taking enough out of the top of the side seam without the zipper to at least make it stay on.  There is a bit of a bulge where it meets the rest of the side seam, but I've gotten it down to acceptable for me.  My BF thinks that this is a really weird item.   However, my ideal skirt is one that can be worn with casual clothes and tennis shoes for work, and I don't think you can get more casual than this.  Again, styling could be an issue, but I think this one might get worn for comfort factor alone, because it is as comfortable as a pair of sweatpants but looks a little more put together.

Alright, I think that's me all caught up with everything accomplished during May other than the Me-Made-May challenge itself.  I'm one hem away from a new maxi skirt, so hopefully that'll be up next!

June 1, 2013

Final Thoughts from Me-Made-May

After careful consideration of the garments I wore and did not wear during Me-Made-May 2013, I've had a few minor revelations about things I need to do from here on out in my sewing.

1. No more crappy poly t-shirts.  While these were great for learning, they both make me sweat more and then hold the smell.  Some of them are getting legit bad.  I'll use up any halfway decent fabrics that are still in my stash, but any new t-shirt fabric needs to be at least some sort of blend.  If anyone has a good source for cotton or bamboo knits, let me know.
Polka dot Renfrew, I'm looking at you.
2.  Get over my fear of wovens.  I reaized that basically everything I wore on my top half was all knits.  I have to learn how to make proper FBA's, and then a whole new world of tops opens up to me.
The failure that was my last attempt to sew a woven top.
3.  I AM MAKING SOME DRESSES, DAMMIT!  There is absolutely no reason that I should get so jealous of everyone else's during this month when I am perfectly capable of making my own.  Argh.
This pattern is going down.  Soon.
     Overall, I realized that despite having another year of sewing under my belt, I really don't have a functional wardrobe of just me-mades.  If I hadn't had my RTW jeans, I would have been hosed.  There are really two ways to view this.  Either I can try to remedy the situation and focus on really sewing the things I wear on an every day basis, or I can just accept that while I'm doing my doctorate an all me-made wardrobe is really not an option and just sew whatever inspires me.  Honestly, I'm leaning towards the latter.

     Since learning to sew, I really haven't bought much RTW at all, but also haven't been sewing at a high enough rate to replace the clothes as they get destroyed.  (I work in an organic chemistry lab; clothes do not last for a "normal" lifetime before they become unwearable.)  So wearable clothes are starting to get thin on the ground.  If I give myself permission to sew whatever I want, then use my super thrifting skills to restock my wardrobe in a sustainable way, I think that would be the best of both worlds.  The longer I sew, the more I think about defining my style, but I can't sew fast enough to bring it to fruition.  If sewing becomes a burden to be restocking my everyday wardrobe, it loses some of the fun for me.  The fact that I can sew also opens up the option of reworking thrifted garments, which is (usually) much faster than starting from scratch, and as I've said before, was my first crafting love.

  So moving forward, the new approach is to focus more on getting more clothes I love into the closet in any manner possible.  Expect to see more reconstructions.  Once I feel like I'm not constantly scrambling to find decent outfits, I can settle back and sew exactly what I feel like, with no guilt about making things that may or may not even get worn.  Time to get started! :D

May 31, 2013

MMM '13: The Final Days

It's finally at the end!  I won't say I didn't get burnt out, because I totally did.  But unlike last year, I did d actually finish out this challenge, AND managed to get real pictures of my last two outfits for the month!

At this point, you guys know what this shirt looks like, so I was just being goofy.
This shirt was saved unintentionally by switching to a new brand of laundry detergent (I generally buy whatever's on sale at the grocery store).  The smell isn't gone completely, but it's significantly tamed down.  For now.  I highly suspect this will be the last Me-Made-May this shirt will appear in.

I won't lie, I was honestly dreading picking a handmade item for today.  The nasty rainy weather we've had all week killed any chances of skirt wearing and I just did not want to wear one of my poly t-shirts again.  Luckily, when I was blog reading during breakfast, Clio's new linen pants reminded me that I had a pair of my own that I could pull out for my last hurrah!

You might notice that this is the exact same outfit as when I originally made these pants, and that would be because this is the only way I've found to wear these pants that doesn't look like I'm just trying to wear pajamas.  In my head, this look is very hippie-yoga ish, and they look flowy and cool.

Side note: New Glasses!  These are a little bit louder than glasses I usually wear, and honestly they make me feel like I need to step up my fashion game.  If the glasses are going to make a statement, I want the rest of my outfit to do so too.  My boyfriend also pointed out that I sort of look like Kitty from Arrested Development with these glasses.  Not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing.  In any case, they're corrected for my worsening astigmatism, so I can see better, which is the actual important bit! Yay!

As with last year, participating in Me-Made-May has definitely been a good eye-opener for the state of my sewn wardrobe.  I've definitely come to some realizations and made some decisions for moving forward, but I'm going to mull over them a little more and give them their own post.  For today, I can celebrate successfully completing the challenge!

May 27, 2013

MMM Days 18-27 Update!

.....in which I hit the wall. I had a very lazy weekend on the 18th (besides getting caught biking in a sudden thunderstorm!) and didn't wear any me-mades until Tuesday, which meant I had to come up with four outfits in a row to meet my goal.  The weather heated up so all my long sleeve shirts were out, and I was in trouble. I failed somewhat at pictures, but managed to keep to my goal with one tiny exception...

Tuesday, I managed to pull out the paisley KS3338.

Wednesday, my me-made was a friendship bracelet I made like 10 years ago.  It was a bad morning, what can I say?  It's my one total cop-out for the month.

Thursday,  I rocked the polka dot Renfrew, for the last time unless I can get the smells out of that poly....

Friday, the BF decided to take me to Red Lobster (our favorite "fancy" restaurant) for our five year dating anniversary.  He was still wearing his suit because we went straight from work, so I made sure to dress up so he wouldn't feel overdressed.  Tie-dye skirt to the rescue!  I still love this skirt.

I then failed to upload the pictures until today, so I'm going to go all the way through today's outfits.

Sunday it was cold and nasty, so the garden cardigan got another outing.  I need a new shirt to wear underneath it, as the Old Navy tank under here is gross and shrunk to the point where it wants to show my stomach.

The unintentional halo behind my head there is just a poorly placed lamp.  :)

Today was still a work day for me even if it's a holiday for everyone else, but I was a little bitter about it and didn't feel like getting dressed.  The basic black KS3338 is great for these kind of days because it's so soft, but a little wonky so I can only wear it on days when I don't particularly care what I look like.

I also have to point out my new accessory (let's be honest, my only accessory) that appears after Friday.  It's a necklace the BF got me for my anniversary, and he done good - it's so "me"!  So you'll probably see it popping up a lot from here on out.

Since I managed to do well for the beginning of this week, I only have to manage two more me-made outfits to finish out the month!  I can't lie; I'm always glad to have the choice to throw on whatever I want in the morning without having to think about it once May is over.  However, I always get a lot of insight into the state of my me-made wardrobe, so I'll try to write down what I've learned in my final wrap-up.  Here's to finishing strong!

May 18, 2013

MMM Week 3 Roundup!

It's week 3 already?  We're over halfway through May already? What the what?

On Saturday, I wore a blue scoop-neck Renfrew with a purple tank underneath.  With the way the layers shift, it ends up looking a little Flashdance, because one strap of the tanktop is always hanging out.

This shirt is not one of my favorites.  It's odd, because this neckline should be the same as my polka dot one one, but it seems too high on this one, but not on my other ones.  This is also very cheap poly fabric that clings more than I'd like to everything underneath.  I'll probably keep it as is, but I would eventually like to replace it with a nicer version

On Monday,  I wore my long sleeved pink Renfrew but totally failed to get a picture.  However, the reason I failed to do so is totally justified - I was helping my friend figure out what she was doing wrong in trying to use my old machine that I gave her. Hint:  using the presser foot solves a lot of problems. ;)  I got an apple lager and homemade chicken pot pie for my trouble, so I consider it a fair trade and a fun time.

Tuesday I wore an as-yet unblogged grey sweatshirt skirt with my vintage REO Speedwagon t-shirt.  After wearing it once, I decided that I don't like the hand-sewn hem on this, because it doesn't blend in as well as I  thought it would in such a thick fabric, and it's sporty enough that I want to change it to a machine hem.

Wednesday I went for an old standby, the polka dotted Renfrew that is my favorite version of this pattern to date.  Can we be real here though?  For some reason, this fabric (another poly blend, obtained at an auction back when I was learning to handsew, so at least 15 years ago!) seems to hold odors between washes.   Specifically in the armpit area.  I really love this top and don't want to let it go, but if I can't figure out a solution we only have a limited amount of time left before it just gets too gross. :(
This was a camera self-timer fail.  Also my hair is not orange like this lighting makes it look. :p
Friday I spent all day helping to grade approximately 500 undergraduate second-semester organic chemistry finals.  It was not a looking fabulous kind of day.  :)

Coming up, I think I'm going to just do a roundup post of all the refashions I've been doing (pretty much all my action sewing-wise, but not very exciting individually), and possibly a couple of deep-thinking kind of posts.  Hope everyone's Friday was more interesting than mine!

May 10, 2013

MMM Week 2!

Alright, week 2!  For this week, I've stolen the idea from Modern Vintage Cupcakes to also talk about any changes that need to be made to my me-mades to make me reach for them more often.

Monday:  Was a Monday. Didn't feel like doing much of anything, so I threw on my black KS3338.  The material this is made of is the most comfortable stuff ever.

No real changes that I can actually do for this one, though the armscye is kind of weird and the neck binding is kind of a hot mess.  It was an early make, but the black hides the mistakes enough that it's still wearable for lab work.

Tuesday:  Another long day, another comfort outfit.  My garden cardigan is great for days when I want to be comfy but still cute. (The BF could not be bothered to leave his computer to take a picture, or, you know, keep my head in the shot...)

The only thing that's really annoying on this one is it draping forward when I'm trying to do lab work.  If I have enough of the fabric left I'll make a belt for it; if not, I'll go on the hunt for some sort of brooch or something else to pin it shut.

Wednesday:  Really nice out, wanted to wear something bright and happy, so I pulled out the paisley KS3338.

I think this shirt has shrunk some.  The hemline is right at the top of my jeans, and the bust darts are too high (the whole dart, not just the point).  It may be close to the end of its lifetime with me, but I'll keep it until it's absolutely unwearable because I love the fabric.

Friday:  My last day of teaching for the semester.  I really need to do laundry and the weather wasn't cooperating with my original plan, so I reached for an unblogged refashion I did a while ago.  These pants were too short to wear as they were (flared pants look weird when they're too short), but I figured it was a good chance to try out the skinny pants trend, since those can be ankle length and be just fine.

(No photographer this morning, and this was the picture where it was most obvious that these are khaki skinny pants.  In several of them it just looked like I was wearing a long sweater and no pants!)

No changes yet, though I may have some after more outings.  These pants were originally from at least 5 years ago, so they're pretty worn in general.  This incarnation will most likely be their last.

I feel like this week was all about the low-hanging fruit.  I didn't put "no repeats" in my MMM pledge, but for the sake of this post not being the same four pictures every week, I'm going to try to mix it up.  But for the last week of classes and teaching, I was all about the old favorites.  Hopefully I can keep it up for three more weeks!  I'm loving seeing everyone else's MMM posts; so many new patterns I need to get!

May 5, 2013

MMM '13 - Week One

NOTE: I wrote this all up on Friday, but just didn't get the pictures uploaded until today.

Yes, I realize it's not been a full week, but the month ends on a Friday, and I'd rather have the goofy week (by my count) be at the beginning of the month, rather than at the end when I'd be more likely to say, "Oh those last two days totally don't count."  This way I have this one stunted week, and the rest are nice full weeks.

So you already saw my Day 1 outfit, but I'll post it again cause I can!

Not the best picture, but it's proof.  I also really need to get going on sewing a replacement for that purple shirt.  The holes are getting especially eggregious.

Day 2- Simple but effective.  Polka dot Renfrew for the win.  It's a little see through, so I usually wear a white tanktop underneath like I did here.  I also promise I actually did my hair after this picture, but I had to grab the BF to take pictures before he left for work.

Day three was a old college sweatshirt day, as I started with a dentist appointment at 7 am, then had to proctor and grade 300 organic chemistry exams for the rest of the day.  Fun stuff.

So, 2 out of 3 days is a 66% me-made week, which definitely exceeds my 4 out of 7 for the rest of the weeks (~57%, if you are a math nerd like me), so I call Week 1 a success!

Additionally, I'm all fired up about some completely different sewing plans.  Specifically, I've always had in the back of my mind that my perfect go-to casual dress pattern would be a wrap dress, as my most successful RTW dresses have mostly been this type.  I was looking for something else in my stash and lo and behold, I realized I own Vogue 8379, a Very Easy Vogue, and a simple wrap knit dress pattern.

 This needs to happen this month.  (Even if it is nasty, cold and rainy right now.)  My brain is fried from all the grading, so I'm off!

Bonus kitty picture!  (You can see how huuuuge he is!)

May 2, 2013

MMM Starts and Paying it Forward

Hey guys!  I'm generally planning on just doing weekly round ups for my MMM garments, but I had to start off with a bang for the first day and it was just so darn nice out that I had to share the photos now!

Sorry, I'm facing the sun here...I heart this skirt.  I'm sure you'll see it again this month.

In other news, remember when I was blathering on about buying a cutting table?  Totally didn't happen for a variety of reasons, but last week Freecycle came to the rescue, and I got the exact table I'd been looking at for only the price of the gas to go pick it up.  A couple of the wheels are broken so it takes a bit of jury-rigging to get set up, but it's better than abusing my knees on the bedroom floor by a long shot.  I haven't gotten to give it a proper try yet, but this weekend, it's happening.

   I'd also previously mentioned that when one of my friends heard I had made my own shirt, she expressed interest in buying my old sewing machine off of me.  I'll admit, I had a moment right before she showed up where I wanted to keep it all for myself, but then her excitement at being able to make her own pillows just made it all worth it.  It does mean I'm without a backup machine should something happen to my Interlude, but it also frees me up to look for a different backup or a vintage machine in my goodwill/internet searching. (Featherweight, anyone? :p) It also means I'll have someone else to talk sewing with, or even have sewing days on the weekend with.  If nothing else, I'm hopefully helping to pass the love of sewing on to someone else, and that in itself should be a reward.

Lots to do this month for the end of the semester, but lots of motivation too. Seeing everyone's MMM garments always makes me want to sew!  Here's to a sunny sewing summer!

April 20, 2013

Lesson Learned: Respect the Stretch

The original title for this post was going to be "Lesson Learned: Don't just assume something that looks a little weird will work itself out and continue using the same technique for a whole skirt until you've created miles of ugly topstitching and it's too late to go back" but that was a bit excessive even for me.

So here's what we're working with:

This whole thing was born out of my need to replicate my favorite skirt of all time, a brown tiered broomstick skirt that is starting to look pretty ratty, and the constant desire to stashbust.  I only had a skinny rectangular piece of this fabric (which is evil for reasons I'll detail in a minute), so the idea of the tiered skirt seemed genius at the time.  Cut out a bunch of strips, use the whole thing up, then mix and match to get the tiers I want! Super simple, right? Maybe, for someone other than me.  Here's the places where this went wrong:

1.  Weird fabric. After some discussion with the ladies on Craftster, I've come to the conclusion that this piece is probably Calcutta fabric, which was apparently very popular in the 70's.  It's a knit with prepressed wrinkles that is quite spongy.
My attempt to show the texture - the color is way off
2.  Bad cutting.   For this skirt, I was really excited to be following a no-waste type model, since I had one long skinny rectangle.  I simply cut a whole bunch of strips of the same width, then mixed and matched amounts to get to the right lengths per tier.   The problem is that this stuff slipped and stretched while I was trying to cut it, so my individual strips were often pretty badly crooked, an effect that was only amplified when the strips were made into tiers.

3.  Not making samples.  Since I only barely had enough of this fabric, I neglected to test how my topstitching method would look, and it stretched the fabric out in a yucky way.

4.  Lazy hemming.  I have yet to find a hemming method that works well for me.  I could use my dressform, but that doesn't have the large rear that I do, so I always end up too short in the back.  My current method is a combination of trying to fit myself and eyeballing.  Especially when the tiers weren't all straight to start with, you can imagine how well this works.

However, after the initial disgust wore off, I'm slowly realizing that it's not completely unwearable.  From far away, the stitching doesn't really show up.

The hem isn't as bad as I first thought...

Well, it's at least not the worst hem I've ever done.  (Please ignore the kitty taking a bath and the footwear in this picture.  In my head the boots looked grungy or like River Tam - in real life they just look silly).

So, the final verdict...it's a solid maybe.  I'm also thinking with a short petticoat/underskirt/tulle thing it could work for a very grungy steampunky outfit for GenCon, so maybe it can find a home in the costume closet.  If all else fails, I could take out the hem and shred the edges for a post-apocalyptic costume.  I do know one thing for sure: I plan to stay far, far away from Calcutta cloth for a good long while.

I just have to make it through the rest of the work day (yes, Saturday is a work day for me) and then I've got a wide open Saturday night (usually taken up by my weekly Scion game) and all day Sunday to crank out some Thurlows.  Sooo excited!

April 17, 2013

For A Given Definition of "Fabulous"...

So my single, solitary goal for sewing in March was to make one garment that made me feel fabulous.  When I wrote this, I was enivisioning a dress. Any dress, really.  But as the month got about halfway through, I thought maybe the Thurlows could be my fabulous garment; a well-fitting pair of pants would certainly be a new experience for me.  As those dragged on, I eventually accepted that I would probably just be failing at the goal for this month, and I'd just make whatever I felt like.  What I settled on was Jalie 2911, mostly because I had already traced it off, but the piece of sweatshirt fabric I had originally wanted to use was too small.  However, in the auction haul was a lovely large piece of somewhat light sweatshirt-y material (it's not really fuzzy on the back side, but is the same type of knit and weight) in teal/turqouise/blue-green/whatever.

First off, I have to explain about this color.  This is MY COLOR.  My boyfriend once asked if I had bought stock in that color, because I wear it so often.  My winter coat is teal, the fleece I wear at work is teal, my childhood bedroom was painted teal, the one cocktail dress I own is teal.  I think you get the picture.  This is the one go-to color that I know I will love, no matter what.  Not every single variation looks great on me, but very few of them ever look straight up bad.  It's safe in that way, but I never seem to get bored with it.  So the fabric had that going for it.

Unfortunately, it turned out a little too big (you can totally see the shoulder seams dropping off my shoulders), and I'm definitely not in love with how the hood detail in front looks on me, not to mention how many times I had to unpick those corners on the front to get them even remotely straight. You can see in this picture how the armscye is definitely too low....

And in this one how HUGE the hood is on me.  I know some people like that look, but it just looks silly on me.
Trust me, this was the best picture I had, and no, I don't know why I look like I'm praying here.
 It'll do for hanging around the house, for sure, and I'm really not terribly broken up about it.  I keep giving it the side-eye thinking I can tear it apart and resew it smaller, which I could do.  If I were to make it again, I'd definitely trace the next size smaller and do an FBA (you can see some pretty significant drag lines in the first picture), but like I said, I just don't like how the front detail thing looks on me.  Someone with a smaller bust might be able to pull it off better, but it's just in a weird place on me. So I doubt I'll be making this pattern again.  In fact, we're going on a donation run for the thrift store I got it from this weekend; maybe I'll just donate it back to them. But for this one, I think it's best to throw it in the closet, see if it gets pulled out, and give it some time to steep for a while.  It might get remade, it might not.  Luckily, the other garment I made in March is definitely growing on me, though I wasn't in love with it at first.  I'll get a post up about it in a few days.  In real time sewing (not backlogged projects), I've got my khaki Thurlows cut out, and this weekend looks wide open for sewing.  Hope everyone has a great Wednesday!

April 10, 2013

Me-Made May 2013!

It's that time of year again!   'I, Alicia of sewingforreallife.blogpost.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13.  I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned garment for 4 days a week for the duration of May 2013.'

Last year, I fell off the wagon for this challenge partway through, and that was only trying to do 3 days a week.   Why do I think I can do better this year?  The addition of the Renfrew as my first real Tried and True pattern means I have several nice quick tops I can throw on in a hurry and still be me-made.  I'm also not going to get too worked up about the picture taking this year; following the challenge itself is more important, and sometimes last year I wouldn't wear me-mades if I didn't think I had time to take a picture.  Some of the sewing in this month's goals would be a big boost, as having bottoms as well as tops that are me-made gives me a lot more flexibility.  I'm also hoping the refashioned part will come into play, as I've got a few reconstructions that are slowly making their way to the front of my mental queue.

In other news, today is my last day in New Orleans, and of course my poster session is the very last thing we do tonight, then we leave early tomorrow morning.  I've eaten more delicious food here than on any other vacation in my life, and would love to come back here with my BF someday, instead of with my labmates.  Hopefully the time "off" (it is still a work conference, after all) will give me enough of an emotional boost to push through the end of the semester.  I'm off to enjoy some sunshine, but when I get back I promise there will be a bunch of my backlogged posts, with pictures.  :)

April 3, 2013

March Wrap-Up and April Goals

Alright, it's that time of month again!  For the month of March, I set myself one goal:  make something that I will feel fabulous in.  Did I succeed?  Not particularly.  I did complete 2 garments in the month of March.  Both had the potential to replicate favorite pieces that I already have in my wardrobe, but both fell somewhat short, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't posted either one yet.  I will get them posted soon, for the sake of documenting them and maybe to help see them in a new light.  But I did make the attempt, which is half the battle, and I enjoyed sewing both pieces.  I'm just 0 for 2 on the finished product.

For April, I'm feeling ambitious.  Considering that HabitRPG has kicked my general productivity into high gear, I'm going big this month, even thought I am going to lose a whole week to the ACS meeting. One garment a week (that I'm home) sounds good.

Goal 1: Production sewing of Thurlows.  I finished the muslin, loved the fit, and already have at least two fabrics earmarked for making these.  I just have to buckle down and sew them.  I'm planning on cutting out both at once, so as soon as I finish the first pair I can go right into the second, before I forget everything about the pattern.  This does have welt pockets, which will be a new endeavor for me, but we'll see if I have the patience to include them or not.

Goal 2:  Start my brown corduroy jacket from Butterick 5568.  I'm always lacking in spring-or fall-weight jackets, and I'm also not sure how much longer the peplum will be cool. :p  This is a longer than one month project since this will be my first jacket as well, but as long as I make some progress that would be good.  A finished muslin would be epic.
Goal 3:  One quick knit top.  Me-Made-May is coming up and I plan to participate again, so throwing at least one more finished knit top into the rotation can't be a bad idea.  Ideally I'd like to try out a new pattern (other than the Renfrew) for this, just for a change of pace.  A couple contenders in my collection are:

There is, of course, always the option of the cowl-neck Renfrew, as I haven't made that view yet.  (I'm sorry, I just love Sewaholic Patterns, okay?)

Bonus goal: Reorganize my fabric stash again.  After I finally washed everything from the auction haul, there is a huge stack on top of my cube organizer that is threatening to fall off at any moment.  If I get the Thurlows knocked out, that's a fair few yards of fabric I'll have made room for.  Since I'm keeping things moving a little more lately, hopefully this will continue to whittle the stash down instead of building it up overall.

Hope everyone's enjoying the almost-actually-spring weather now!  I won't believe it's really here until all the snow melts, but the sunshine is definitely an improvement.  Go forth and sew for spring! :)