Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Sewing: D'oh! Meh. WooHoo!

This weekend I was sewing, as I often am, and had a project bomb, one that's wearable but uninspiring, and one that I'm really happy with.


This is actually the second attempt to use this fabric. I salvaged enough from the first failure to cut the pieces for a button down shirt. I used the pattern from Sew U. I had success with it the first time I used it so I merrily was on my way cutting the pieces and getting ready to sew.


When I got to the collar stand I ran into a glitch. I don't know if I cut the body pieces too big or the collar & stand too small but either way, the collar stand & collar are at least 2 inches too small for the neck opening.


Oh, and did I mention I used every last square centimetre of the fabric for the pieces I cut out?

I think I can salvage it by completing the shirt without a collar. I'm thinking more like a U-neck and just hem the opening. (hem? that's not the right word for the neck opening) For the time being it's in time out. If I can't salvage it the fabric will be used for something else along the way. I really like the plaid.


When I realized the first shirt was a d'oh I pulled out a light weight knit print I had found in the clearance section of Fabricland a few weeks ago. I decided to go with the t-shirt pattern I had success with earlier this summer and got going. It's wearable but there's something I'm not totally thrilled with.


I haven't finished the hem and I want to re-do the elastic in the sleeves. The fabric was really slippery for some reason and I found myself frustrated with it. It's a really nice weight though and I think I'll finish it up tonight or tomorrow.


Another skirt! This is exactly what I pictured when I found this lightweight cotton in Fabricland a couple of months ago. It had this beautiful embroidered edge and I immediately saw a skirt.


I drafted a simple 4 panel skirt using math that even I can do. I've used this technique before to make a 6 panel skirt. Please to enjoy my fancy diagram created in my word program.

There are many tutorials online, some of them even have pictures AND descriptions and weren't created in a word program that has no business doing illustrations!

I lined the skirt with the un-embroidered half of the fabric width. The skirt was a bit thin and I didn't want to bother with a slip when I wear it.

I'm fairly proud of the zipper as it's enclosed between the skirt and lining. It's not terribly neatly sewn mind you, but it is enclosed between the skirt and lining and that is the accomplishment we are focusing on.

I still somehow managed to make the waist too big. I seem to do this with any skirt that doesn't have an elastic waist. Better than too small but it sits a bit too low. Overall I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

You may have noticed the sudden obsession with skirt making (I have another one I haven't shown you yet). My office-mate & I had challenged ourselves to wear a skirt at least once a week for the summer. It's a little out of the ordinary for me to wear skirts but I'm finding that I quite like them for work in the summer. I realize this is old news to most of you but I'm generally a jeans & t-shirt kinda girl.


I have to travel for work this week. I normally don't leave my office but I need to go to Houston to train someone in our office there to do my job. Well, not my job but how to do the job that I do. You know what I'm trying to say. I'm glad for the change but a bit nervous about going. I'm pretty much a hermit lately and I'm always nervous meeting new people.

Also, I live in Calgary. It was 26 Celsius (79F) today and people were talking about how sweltering hot it is. I have lived in hot/humid before but to go from not-humid/barely-hot to really hot/extremely humid in one day will be... uh... challenging I'm sure. The hotel has a pool, where I hope to spend most of my time while not in the office. (Houston, you are welcome in advance for the visual of my awesome shorts-tan)

I'll only be there for 3 days so any amount of low-grade worrying is seriously unnecessary but there you have it. I won't be able to sew (obviously) so I'm planning to take a sock to knit. I'm travelling with a coworker and I'm sure she would be mortified if I had anything larger to work on. I expect I'll be reading a lot on the flight/trip also. Anyone have any good book recommendations? I've been on a spy-novel kind of kick but would be open to suggestions if you've read something really engrossing.

Wow, long post. Okay so hope you all had a great weekend. Oh, and thank you for your comments on the last couple of posts. (I haven't fully worked out how to reply to people yet and sometimes I can't find an email address when people comment from a different blogging platform.) It really is encouraging.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swing Skirt

I'm a little late on the Alabama Stitch Book bandwagon. This skirt was making the blog rounds a couple of years ago (I think) and I loved it then but didn't get the book until this spring. I love the style of Alabama Chanin's designs and this skirt is no exception.

Swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book

The skirt (if you are unfamiliar with the project having just been introduced to the internet or something) is made by stencilling the design and then using reverse applique, entirely by hand. I was nervous about it. All that stitching was relaxing and quite satisfying, but what if it didn't fit! It took weeks -- mostly because I would work on it for a bit and then leave it for a few days.

I'm happy to say it fits perfectly. Imagine here my enormous sigh of relief when I tried it on last night!

Swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book

I used fabric from 2 different jersey sheet sets (my go-to for inexpensive t-shirt material) and acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium for the stencil. I may have over-done it with how much I stencilled. I like how it looked but it took a long time to stitch. Next time (oh yes, I'm planning another) I'll do much less stencilling.

At first I wasn't sure how I'd feel about hand-stitching the skirt together. It didn't seem very sturdy before I tried it. I was thinking I would use the serger to construct the skirt but in the end decided to hand-stitch it after all. It seemed right to complete it by hand after putting in all that time. I'm really surprised and pleased with how sturdy it feels.

Waistband - Swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book

The pattern calls for using fold-over elastic (FOE) for the waistband but I couldn't find any and was to impatient to order it. I ended up using a strip of matching jersey to make a waistband. I think I should have made the waistband an inch smaller but it will be fine for now. If it stretches out I think I can put in some elastic.

herringbone stitch - Swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book

I played around with different stitches to attach the waistband. The last thing I wanted, after spending all this time making the skirt, was to have the waistband stitches snap when I wore it! I ended up going with this herringbone stitch I found online (I can't remember where, sorry). It is really stretchy and was relatively easy to stitch. I stitched the waistband to the skirt and then did another round of herringbone to tack the seam to the waistband.

Swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book

This is easily the most comfortable piece of clothing I've ever made and the most time-consuming. I love how it's casual and special at the same time - if I may pat myself on the back a bit!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Vintage Leather Jacket Bag

I keep forgetting to post projects I've completed in the last few months. I have another one for you today, one of my favorites.

I was rolling this idea in my mind for almost a year, since I made my first leather jacket bag. About a month ago it clicked in my brain and I stopped by Value Village on my way home from work. (Pro Tip: Pronounce Value Village with a bad French accent so you're fancy) I found the perfect 70's jacket and made my way home. And forgot to take a before picture, of course. d'oh.


I used the back of the jacket for the body of the bag. I ended up adding a band around the top to give the bag more depth.


The jacket had a band across the back at the waist and vertical seams along the whole length of the back. The waistband was exactly the width I wanted for the bottom and the vertical seams add detail to the bag.


It's nice and slouchy without being too floppy. If that makes any sense. I made the strap long so the bag can be worn cross body, which I love. I am far too clumsy to wear a bag on my shoulder while shopping for groceries. I end up knocking stuff off shelves or dropping my bag. You think I'm exaggerating but... yeah no, I'm that clumsy. Ask my office mate.


It's lined with some random stripey fabric from my stash. I used a magnetic snap to hold it closed and added some pockets for functionality. It has a great "Dad's old leather jacket" smell (and surprisingly no "gross Value Village" smell!) and has that creaky old leather jacket sound.


I took an extra day off today. (4 day weekend! woo!) After a couple of errands I headed down to Fish Creek Park for a walk and to sit by the creek to read.

I love that Calgary has these places within the city where not only can you not see the city but you can't even hear any traffic or anything.




I didn't stay as long as I had planned, too much pollen & fluff from the trees. My allergies are bad this year and I was getting miserable. On my way walking back out to my car I nearly stepped on an 18" long garter snake (gah I just gave myself the willies thinking about it). I have a teeny tiny thing about snakes. I'm not scared of them but they just give me the creeps. This one was tiny and still icked me out. I'm sure I scared it more than it creeped me out though. I swear it jumped when it saw me. (which just gave me goosebumps in my hair) (I'm sure you're *surprised* there are no pictures of the snake).

Wow got myself off on a diversion there.

When I got home I had the best surprise though: One of my tomato plants has an actual real live tomato growing on it! woo! success (well, a harbinger of success).


Last year I only had 2 tomatoes on 2 plants all summer. My strawberries are actually producing this year too so I'm really looking forward to those as well.

Happy 4th of July to any Americans out there (and belated Happy Canada Day! to my fellow Canucks).