Friday, January 31, 2014

Jungle in the Snow and Stashbusting

this photo is dark because of the snow-this is the best I could make
it, even with Photoshop

Finally Anne, my Jungle January post. I just made it.

I am taking the easy way out and will steal borrow the template from pattern review. So much easier than trying to be clever and witty when I'm in a rush.

Pattern Description: The Renfrew Top is a fitted knit top with sleeve and neckline variations. View A has long sleeves and a scoop neckline. View B has short sleeves and a deep V neckline. View C has a dramatic cowl neckline and three-quarter length sleeves.  I made view C with long sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: 0-16. I used 16 even though I a little larger than the measurements. Fits perfectly.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly. Except for the banded hems which I didn't use.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the fit, it works for me right out of the envelope.

Fabric Used: a drapey poly knit, that I found in the bargain section at Fabricland last year.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I don't care for the banded hems, so I leave them off and lengthen the sleeves and body. I believe they were designed this way to make hemming easier. I have a cover stitch machine, so that isn't an issue for me.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, and yes, I will make it again. I will be cutting out another one, or maybe two this afternoon. I can't recommend this pattern highly enough.

Conclusion: IMO a drapey knit is essential for the cowl version of this top to work, and this fabric is nothing if not drapey. 



Back to non template writing. I have finally found a knit fabric that my sewing machine doesn't hate. I didn't even use my walking foot (just realized that). The only issue I had with this fabric was the curling, like that's a surprise with a knit, right? 

I assembled this with sewing machine, serger, and cover stitch machine. I really enjoyed sewing with all three machines, it feels like such a luxury. I guess because it is. I have to admit I got an amazing deal on my cover stitch, it is the Janome 900CP, I bought it from an acquaintance for $100. I was very very lucky.

Have you made a Renfrew yet?
Gratuitous cute dog photo.
Ricky enjoying some rare winter sunshine.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finishing UFO's

Which I didn't even know I had cut out/started. They are good old Kwik Sew 2908, now unfortunately OOP. I found them when I was shoveling out the sewing dungeon, aka the basement. Which is where all the stuff goes when we want to hide it from people who may come over to judge us see us. So shoveling out the sewing dungeon almost always yields some treasures.
Back on topic. I have no idea when I cut these out, or where the fabric came from. I know I don't own any clothes made from either of these fabrics, and I also know that I don't have any more of these fabrics hanging about. Tis a mystery, and likely to remain so.

As you can probably tell, I made the full brief, I think full briefs show fewer pantie lines. Unless of course you are wearing low rise trousers. I also find panties I make myself seem to show less as well. In case you are thinking I spend a lot of time thinking about pantie lines, let me tell you I come by it honestly. My mother was obsessed with them, and in her late 60's started wearing thongs because they didn't create pantie lines. I hate thongs and find them uncomfortable, and as my friend H says, I have spent my life pulling my underwear out of my crack and now they want me to put it there? Uh, no.

I think it is a shame that KS has discontinued this pattern, it is an excellent pattern, which fits me very well. The one thing about this pattern is the crotch area is strangely wide, but that is easy enough to fix, just trim a little with a rotary cutter. I do sew my panties a little differently than the instructions. I sew the elastic to the right side of the fabric with the picot (if any) away from the edge, stretching the elastic to fit the fabric. Then I turn the elastic to the inside and use my cover stitch machine to do a nice finished edge. One of my favourite uses for my cover stitch machine.
sorry it's blurry-it was getting dark when I took this

How about you? What is your preference for underwear? Full brief, bikini, thong, tanga? Are you obsessed with pantie lines? How do you resolve the pantie line issue?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stash Busting 2014-Pun Alert

What a Ham! Or I'm on a Roll.

After seeing the lovely large ham in the Marcy Tilton's sewing studio in the Craftsy course The Ultimate T-shirt, I have been obsessed with them. I kept visiting the maker of the hams website (Stitch Nerd), and admiring all the pretty things. I just couldn't justify spending the money on one. This is not to say that Stitch Nerd's products aren't worth the price. They absolutely are, just not to me. 

MADE TO ORDER - Custom Handmade Extra-Large Professional Size Tailor's Pressing Ham with the Fabric of your Choice

So what is an obsessed woman to do? Make one of course. I found a few websites about making your own pressing equipment, and I was off. The only thing that I didn't have on hand was sawdust. While grocery shopping I stopped by the pet aisle to get some new toys for my canine children, and lo and behold, there it was. A bag of sawdust. Perfect.

I really like the shape of the Stitch Nerd's hams, and my intention was to make one as similar in shape as I could (spoiler alert-didn't happen). So I started playing with shapes on paper, keeping in mind I wanted this sucker to be BIG. As Shams from Communing with Fabric said,  "I have never found myself thinking, gee, I wish my ham were smaller." Size does matter.

I used leftover fabric from lining my Minoru Jacket, it is a Alexander Henry fabric, Home Sewing is Easy, available online here. I think it is THE perfect fabric for a pressing ham, don't you? On the reverse side I used gray 100% wool fabric, which fortunately matched well with the cotton fabric. I say fortunately, because it is the only fabric I have that I am certain is 100% wool.  I used two layers of fabric for each side, the interior layer is white cotton canvas, I'm not sure a double thickness is necessary, but I want the ham to last a long time.
Looks more like the shape of a really large Easter egg, doesn't it?
It takes quite a while to stuff the ham, and especially to compress the sawdust. I used a wooden spoon and a broken rolling pin (which also works well as a pressing tool btw). This can be hard on the hands, so I didn't do it all at once, I worked on it over a week. When you have it sufficiently stuffed, you have to sew it up by hand. Mine is so badly sewn that I will not be showing it to you 8-D.

I was so pleased with the ham, that I decided to make a seam roll as well. The seam roll was considerably easier to stuff and compress than the ham was, and therefore quite a bit quicker.

A couple of hints if you decide to make one for yourself.

If you don't have a canning funnel, buy one.
Leave the hole for stuffing big enough for the canning funnel to fit.
Have a couple of buckets on hand, one to hold the sawdust and one to hold the ham while you are stuffing it with sawdust.
Get used to the fact that you WILL get sawdust on your floor. It just can't be helped.

Here are the finished items. I put the coffee cup there for size comparison.

The seam roll is 4 inches wide and 22 inches long, which I think may be too long, if it is, I will undo the stitching and make it smaller. The ham is 12 inches high, 8 inches wide and 24 inches around.

I am really pleased with both of these, I think they turned out really well, and I smile every time I use them.
What do you think? Will you ever make your own ham or seam roll?

Here  are links to the websites I referred to when making these.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Selfless Sewing, Scrubs, Stashbusting and Alliteration

I am the best wife.

My first sewn garments of 2014 were not for me. I know, shocking. I wasn't even guilted or manipulated into selfless sewing. Sainted, I am or I should be. I believe the paper work is on it's way to the Vatican. I can hear some of you mumbling "get on with it will ya". Shut up and be patient.

I made more scrubs for The Husband. Three of them. I used my standard Simplicity 2769, now OOP. I;m not sure how many times I have made this pattern, but I believe it is around 20 times. I have transferred the pattern to thin cardboard and have the pattern hanging from a nail in the sewing dungeon. Easier and faster than unfolding tissue and pressing and trying not to tear it to pieces. I do this for all patterns I sew on a regular basis. Sorbetto, for example. 

Simplicity 2769

And without further ado, here they are.
This one is made from quilting cotton (from Hawaii) that someone gave my husband. Check out the pattern
matching on the pocket. Dazzling isn't it? I could only match the pattern on the chest pocket.
I hate it when I can't match the prints on all pockets. I think I die a little every time I have to do it.

This one is made from a poly cotton sheet, very heavily on the poly, the fabric is very thin and won't last very long. More pattern matching on the pocket.

This one is also poly cotton with more cotton than Batman, if you look closely at the photo on the right,
 you can see the pocket sewn into the side seam.
Sheets are obviously not the best choice for scrubs, but the two sheets I used, were, in a word, Cheap. Like $3 each. The other thing about making scrubs from sheets is the very large print, which translates well to a scrub top. If you ever decide to sew scrub tops, I have an easy, faster way to sew the lower pockets. Ignore the pattern piece for the lower pockets. Make a new pattern for the pocket 9 X 12 inches, bigger pockets are always better. I enclose one side of the pocket in the side seam and do the same for the bottom of the pocket. So you only have to finish and top stitch one side of the pocket to the scrub. It also makes it much harder to rip the pocket off the scrub, something The Husband excels at. If you look closely at the photos you will notice I sew the corners of the pocket on with a satin stitch, again because nice pretty top stitching doesn't hold up to The Husband's abuse. Since I made these two modifications to the pockets, I rarely have to mend his scrubs.   

Stashbusting down 2 meters of quilting cotton and 2 sheets. It's a start.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A tip for sewing with knits and a product review

No, you didn't read that wrong, I, actually have a tip for sewing knits. Yeah, it surprises me too.

My machine really doesn't like sewing knits, it skips stitches, the tension gets all weird, and no matter what adjustments I make things always go sideways (yes, I always use a new needle for knits with each garment). This causes much swearing and tearing out of hair (and I don't have as much hair as I want/need so this isn't good). A common solution in sewing books is to cut strips of tissue paper on top or underneath the fabric as you sew. This works great, but who wants to spend time cutting tissue paper into strips, and if you do, you misplace it and can't find it when you need it,  Ask me how I know. This causes more swearing etc. I have also used rolls of adding machine paper, but this paper is a little thick and doesn't work all that well.

One day when I was wandering through my favourite dollar store, (yes, there is a difference), I came across rolls of crepe paper streamers, and had a light bulb moment. "These would be perfect for sewing!", I exclaimed. The Husband gave me that look that clearly said "what the hell is she going on about now?". As usual I ignored him and the streamers came home with me.

Well, let me tell you these suckers work better than I could have imagined. If you haven't played with used streamers since forever, you might have forgotten that they are sort of gathered or pleated. When I am using them for straight seams I press the streamers flat, stretching out the paper. Now this is the good part. Wait for it. When I am sewing curves, I press the streamers into the shape of the seam, just like you would for bias tape. Isn't this brilliant!  I don't pin it to the fabric, I just lay it under the fabric and feed it through the machine with the fabric. The paper tears off after sewing really easily, leaving no paper behind, unless you serge over it or use a twin needle.  However after a quick run through the washing machine any traces of paper are gone. If you decide to try this (and why wouldn't you-it's brilliant), I would suggest only using white paper, the other colours may run and then you would hate me, and none of us want that.

Review Time!

For Christmas The Husband got me some great items from the SACurve shop on Etsy. He gave me the 3/8" and 5/8" Mini Rulers, the EZ Wheel, EZ Pocket Template and the Collar Template (which isn't available in her shop right now). I have only used the Mini Rulers, and I love them. I am surprised at how many uses there are for these, I used to use my 2"X18" ruler for everything (which is why I have 3 of them), since I got these I haven't used them at all. I am almost looking forward to tracing a Burda pattern and you know how crazy that is.

I can't recommend these highly enough, and no, I am not receiving compensation for this review. But if the lovely Claire Tharp wants to send me the 5/8" Pattern Drafter as a thank you for this review, I wouldn't refuse 8-D.

EZ Pocket with centimeter measurements

Monday, January 13, 2014

First Monday Post of 2014

Finally I am showing the t-shirts I made from the fabric I dyed back in December  oops November. It took me several weeks to decide how to place the various patterns. To be perfectly honest, I made myself a little crazy, I was even having nightmares. sigh. It's only fabric, I told myself, not the Sistine Chapel, so cut it out already. So I did. Eventually.

front on the left, back on the right

This is the first one. I really liked the tree ring fabric, but I was concerned about using it on the front, I thought it might make the girls look odd and unbalanced, so I used it on the back.  One plain sleeve and one striped sleeve. I used Vogue 8793, eliminating the collar as the in the Craftsy course The Ultimate T-shirt.  Of course because I am an idiot I didn't check my measurements against the pattern. Dumbass. So this t-shirt doesn't fit all that well, but as usual my weight is in flux so what fits one week might not the next so who gives a crap. Once I assembled it, I really regretted not putting the tree ring fabric on the front, but I do like how I didn't center the circle on the back, so I made another.

front on the left and the back on the right

This time I made a Renfrew, without the bands and this time I used the tree ring on the front, donuts on the back and plain sleeves. I really like the way this turned out, but of course I wish I had made a scoop or a roundish neckline instead of a v neck, of course. There has to be something I don't like.

Overall this was a great experiment, and I probably have enough fabric to make another one, I think I will make the next one short sleeved and over sized for the gym.

I have more of this fabric to dye and make another top or two. This time I will tie only the tree ring pattern and the colour will be purple.

I so love dyeing fabric and I am hoping for a really big snowfall to happen when I have a day off so I can play and experiment with snow dyeing. I have no idea what I will do with the fabric, but I don't care. It's fun.

What do you think? Have I tempted you to try your hand at dyeing?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Obligatory goal setting post for 2014

Yeah, I'm late. I was laid up with a nasty bug from December 28 through to January 7. It was a combination of bad cold, bronchitis and a bad reaction to an antibiotic.  Now I am feeling better and appreciating how good normal feels, and I am feeling really grateful for Canada's universal health care system. Thank you Tommy Douglas.

Now on to my sewing/blogging goals for the year.

Blogging goals first.

They're easier. Last year sometimes I went a long time between posts, and I admit I missed writing. So for 2014 I commit myself to one blog post a week minimum.  Every Monday. I want to be consistent because then it becomes a habit. Some weeks I may have a lot to write about, sometimes not so much, but every Monday I will post something. There may be changes to the look of the blog as well. Notice the complete lack of commitment in that last sentence.

Sewing goals.

 I am participating in the Stashbusting Sewalong 2014, although it is unlikely I will be sewing along with their themes, but I will be sewing from my stash, and will not be adding to the stash.  I am giving myself an out. IF I find amazing fabric at an amazing price, silk for $2 per meter, or something like that, or if I have to have a garment to wear to a specific event and no suitable fabric is in the stash and I'm thinking I may need to buy fabric for workout clothes later in the year. Also, I will be purging the stash of WTF was I thinking fabrics. Already donated three meters. It is too ugly to photograph, my camera seized up when I tried.

I am not officially participating in Goodbye Valentino RTW fast, but I am planning on not purchasing any RTW this year. Again,  if I have to, I will.

Once again, my focus will be on sewing knits. Last year I made quite a few knit tops, but I still have a ton to learn about sewing with knits. Then there is the fact that I live in t-shirts, and I only want to sew what I will actually wear. Which brings me to another goal. Sewing with a plan. Not necessarily a SWAP like the one taking place on Stitcher's Guild, I am not nearly disciplined enough for that (if only). Anyway, I plan on sewing thoughtfully and carefully choosing patterns which (I hope) I will actually wear.

First weekly Monday post tomorrow. Later.........