Bear Print Bronte

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I made up another Bronte top after my yellow one! This one is from much more recent stash than the first one; I bought these knits from Girl Charlee late in the summer of last year (it is so weird to think of 2014 as “last year”).

I only bought a yard of the bear fabric (there is also a matching moose fabric!), and I bought the black intending to use them together. I think my thought was that I’d temper the crazy with a little bit of solid colour.

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I shortened the sleeves 3″, all the while thinking “Really? Do I really want to shorten them this much? I must be wrong.” Nope, 3″ was just right! I find it odd I didn’t need to shorten the body at all, if I was making such a big adjustment to the sleeves.

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Even though the print on this one is arguably child-like (I LOVE PRINTS, DON’T CARE) I think the black trim and sleeves make it much less onsie-ish that an Easter-egg-yellow Bronte.

Something obvious to note – when you make a muslin, with the intent of making the pattern again in your ‘good’ fabric, make sure that they’re similar fabrics? I mean, yes, I sewed both of these out of jersey, but that’s about where the similarities end. When I first put the bear-Bronte on, I thought “uh oh, too tight”, because the jersey is a lot thicker and less stretchy. Luckily, it seems a little like a pair of jeans, in that after a bit of moving around, it eases up.

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I opted for just one button each side this time, because I had these fabulous black plastic buttons with brass-reinforced holes. Yes, I made the sewing machine do them for me. Never sewing another button by hand ever again! At home at least, unless I can figure it out on the sewing machine at work.

I used a different sewing machine stitch on this one. Instead of the 3-step zig zag I’d been using before, I found something in my manual about ‘straight stretch’ stitch. The manual claims it was developed for use on stretch fabrics – basically it is a 3-step straight stitch, it goes back and forth 3 times on each stitch. The manual notes that “The stretch stitch does not actually stretch as it is being sewn, but is stitched in a forward and back motion, (sometimes called a “reverse-action” stitch) so that it will give when the fabric stretches instead of breaking.”

I haven’t noticed any difference yet in strength of seams or anything, but the main draw (for me) was that it is straight, not zigzag, so I can press the seam allowances open, rather than to one side when they’re zigzagged together.

How often do you read your machine’s manual? I’ve found all sorts of fun stuff (IT SEWS ON BUTTONS) in mine, and there’s only 40 pages!

Vintage Pattern Pledge

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I’ve collected a few different vintage sewing patterns lately (and knitting patterns too, but that’s another story), but I’ve felt a bit intimidated about sewing them up. I hope to get a few more good contemporary patterns sewn up, so I’ve got a better idea of how things go together. The main thing about the vintage patterns that scares me is the (possible) lack of directions. Patterns today, especially the indie ones, tend to have pretty good directions, and then with the indies, you have things like sewalongs that go into SUCH DETAIL that you almost can’t go wrong. From what I can tell about vintage patterns, this is not the case.

Funny story – I’ve been so intimidated about this that I haven’t opened up any of the three patterns above!

But, I want to make use of them, so I’ve decided to join the Vintage Pattern Pledge! This is a sewalong of sorts co-hosted by Kestrel Makes and A Stitching Odessey.

My personal pledge for this year is simple: to sew up one of my vintage patterns! I have the three shown above, plus a 70s raglan-sleeved collared shirt that I can’t find right now.

“The

My first Archer Button Up!

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And I say ‘first’ because there will definitely be more! This is the Archer Button Up by Grainline Studios.

This was the most complicated sewing project I’d tackled, and I love the way it turned out! This was a muslin, out of some thin cotton I found at the bottom of my stash bin. It may be quilting cotton, but it is much thinner than the fabric used for my Clemence skirt.

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I sewed the size 4 exactly as written, as that is the size appropriate for my bust measurement. I’m more like a size 8 at the hips, but the pattern booklet generously has the finished garment measurements listed, so I thought I’d risk it.

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As mentioned in the Julia Cardigan post, there is a… shelf behind me for fabric to pool on. 😉 It isn’t usually as bad as this photo, but it is a tiny bit snug around my hips. I was staring in the mirror, thinking about how to change this (same size, but grade to a 1/4″ seam allowance  at the bottom of the side seams? Grade the entire pattern to a larger size on bottom?) but then I thought about the length – I want to make the next one 1/2″ shorter in the body, which means the bottom of the shirt will no longer be hitting me precisely at my widest point, so I think I’ll just stick with the same size and see how that feels.

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I did all sorts of new-to-me things with this shirt! I’d never done a collar like this before – the magic of sewing the collar stand together around the button band and collar, then popping them out was as magical as turning a sock heel.

I’d never used the button hole feature on my sewing machine before, and it went quite smoothly. I got a little fancy with the button holes – most are the same taupe-y thread I used for the whole shirt but the top and bottom of the button band are bright blue.* I just trimmed the threads after doing the button holes, but most seem to be unraveling, I guess you’re supposed to tie the threads in a knot before snipping? The manual didn’t mention that, and it was so much dense sewing in the same spot, I thought it’d be ok.

I’d never used my machine to SEW ON BUTTONS! I knew that was a thing that some machines did, but I assumed it was fancier machines than my 20+-year-old Kenmore. But as I was going through the manual to figure out how to do the button holes, I noticed the button page. Luckily, I still had the darning plate (little plastic thing that covers the feed dogs) and you don’t need a special foot, so I experimented and it was amazing. My front buttons had 4 holes, and I could have done an X, but I decided on two horizontal passes instead. Either way would take 2 passes.

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I did the cuff button holes last, so I made them slightly bigger to fit the 2mm bigger matching buttons I had. All the buttons are sewn on with blue thread. All these brown shell buttons that match so well were actually cut off a button-embellished sweater that I got rid of last week!

I tried to see if I could do it just from the instructions in the booklet – for the most part I did, but it was nice to have the Archer sew-along up on my computer to fall back on as well. There is one definite mistake though: my right cuff is wrong. In the placket stage, you press the placket so one bit is on top of the other – I got that wrong, so now my right and left cuffs are the same when you look at them, not mirrored. I only noticed when I went to put it on, and couldn’t figure out why that cuff was so hard to button!

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Before I started this project, I bought myself an edge stitch foot, knowing that there’d be lots of detailed topstitching. I went to a local quilting store and asked helplessly – my machine is a Kenmore, but I’d had luck getting an invisible zipper foot from them. I ended up having to buy (so the lady said, I have no idea) an adapter and an edgestitch foot. The adapter bit has a bit of spring in it, and she said that meant I could use it with other Janome (? I think?) feet that needed the oscillation. No idea, but it worked. I’m not sure if that foot needs the movement, or if that was just the only adapter she had. Nothing was packaged, so I don’t know exactly what they are.

I am absolutely making this shirt again! I honestly can’t quite believe  I made this, even with all the little flaws. I found some lilac chambray the last time I was at Fabricland, so I think that may be my next try.

Changes for next time:

  • Sew the cuffs right. Dur.
  • Shorten the body 1/2″
  • Shorten the sleeves 1/2″
  • Make pockets smaller (1″ shorter, 1″ thinner?). These just overwhelm me, I think. If you could see past the crazy pattern.
  • The sleeves are a good size in the upper arm, but feel big on my forearms. Maybe just change that in the seam allowance? 3/4″ SA on the lower arm?

I want to try snaps at some point, but hubby and I are pretty much on a buying freeze right now, so here’s hoping I have 9 mostly-matching buttons in that button jar! This wearable muslin would actually be pretty great for Stampede week with snaps. I’m not really sure what cowboys have against buttons, but oh well.

Sewaholic just released a collared shirt pattern, and I’m torn about getting it. It has a different placket, and princess seams in the back. After taking a closer look at the storebought button ups I own, they all have those back seams. Oh well, buying freeze, so I guess it doesn’t matter!

*True story: I had planned on the bottom buttonhole being different, and it turned out I had exactly enough taupe thread to sew this whole shirt, minus that one button hole. I felt like a sewing pro. Then I found out I’d sewn the top button hole too small. I doubt I’m going to button it, but by then it was the principle of the thing, so I ripped it, and then had to sew it in blue the second time.

Finished Bronte Top

So in my last post, I was talking about the Julia cardigan I had made. Hiding under the cardigan was a much more recent finish!

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The Bronte top was in the same Pattern Parcel that the Julia pattern came in. I waffled a bit about it – I liked the idea of trying a different t-shirt pattern, but the neckline kept reminding me of baby shirts – you know, you the ones with handy extra buttons for babies’ giant heads? But this week the thought of something in simple jersey sounded like a good way to get back to the sewing machine after a holiday hiatus.

I had just gone through my fabric stash bin; I tipped everything out and refolded it, and reintroduced myself to the things I’d bought! This yellow jersey is the same vintage as my chainlink patterned knit, so about 7 years old!I have a lot of it, I think my plans must have involved a dress. Looking at it now, it isn’t really a colour I’m a fine of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mustard yellow, but this Easter-y colour reminded me of baby onesies again. But, I wanted to make a muslin, so I dove right in!

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The jersey feels mostly cotton-y, but is quite thin, maybe even a tissue-weight jersey? Possibly a bit thinner than called for in the pattern, but it worked out. I made the pattern exactly as printed, and while I like the length of the body, this is how long the sleeves are on me:

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It’s funny, I’m so used to sleeves like this from storebought shirts that if there isn’t bunching at my wrists, I start wondering if the sleeves are too short! Plus, the extra fabric keeps my wrists warm. I’ll probably shorten the sleeves a little before I cut it out next time though.

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I dug through my button jar to find appropriate buttons. I love having a mixed-up jumble of buttons just living in a jar! I find it quite satisfying to dump the whole thing out on the coffee table and have a sort through. Every time I do that, I find a few buttons that match, so every time I string a few more together, but the jar is still a fun jumbly mess. These 6 pearl buttons were already on a string together. I was trying to chose between a couple similar pearl options, and some grey ones. I went with the pearl, because I only had two grey, one for each side.

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I actually like this shirt enough for it to be a wearable muslin, which is great! I didn’t think the buttercup colour would grow on me this much. The thing I’m not sure how to fix is the shoulder seams. I am doing all this sewing with a regular sewing machine, so all my seams in knit projects are sewn with a 3-stitch zigzag (I find it easier to control than the regular zig zag). So I sewed the sleeve in, and trimmed down the seam allowance, but what is left doesn’t want to behave, and I can’t figure out how to press it. Even though I trimmed the allowance, the seams have thickness, because of the zigzagging. I tried to press the excess down towards the sleeve, but it just wants to be lumpy. This may be to do with the thinness of the jersey – it shows every lump and bump!

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I do have a little gripe with the pattern. The directions were great, and it was nice and easy to sew together, it was the PDF pattern that I didn’t enjoy putting together. The PDF patterns I’ve used before usually have you trim off the bottom and right-hand margin on each sheet. Then you tape them together, overlapping the edges of the pages. I find the overlap really helps in lining things up straight. This pattern has you trim the bottom and right margins off, but I eventually realized that you’re then supposed to but the edges of the paper together, not overlap them at all. The awkward part of this was that I didn’t notice this until I got to the sleeve cap, and that was the only way the lines would meet up – on the straightaway of the sleeve and body pieces, it wasn’t immediately apparent I’d done something wrong.

For storage, I feel like the patterns that have that inch-or-so overlap between each page are a little stronger. If I know I want to make the pattern again, I tape the backs of the seams of the paper too, for stability.

Have you made this one? I’m definitely going to make more!

Finished Julia Cardigan

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I just realized that I hadn’t posted about this pre-Christmas make! This is the Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations – I got the pattern in the Perfect Pattern Parcel I bought back in September or so.

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You’ll recognize the main body fabric from my tent-like Japanese pattern make from back in October. I bought some plain black in the same fabric, knowing I could make something with some sort of trim later.

It is a great cozy cardi pattern, I really like the shape, which is good because I’m usually quite picky about cardigans that don’t have front closures. The shawl collar keeps the draughts off my neck nicely.

Next time I make it, I may go up a size or two (or lots, for a loungey sweater!), because it hits at an odd point across my bum.

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There’s a… shelf for fabric to pool on back there.

I can pull it down, but it always rides back up again.

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It was definitely a good first go at this pattern. I love the pattern with the black trim (something about the collar makes me feel a little tuxedo-y), even though I don’t really love the fabric. It’s soft, yes, squishy, yes, but it is 100% poly-plastic-something, and I do love my natural fibres. As soon as I get a degree or two warmer, the fabric makes me feel sweaty and gross.

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In short, while I’ve been enjoying wearing the sweater (in public too, not just at home!) as soon as I find the perfect wool or cotton fabric for it, I’m making it up again and binning this one. It’s a little sad because I love the print, but maybe I’ll find something else black and white!

Feminine Dress Book – View C3

I have 3 Japanese sewing pattern books that I bought earlier this year (like really earlier – February) and when I needed wanted a new dress back in October, I decided to use one of those patterns. I picked view C3, the dress on the cover.

Now I’ve browsed these books a lot, even though I haven’t made anything up to this point. I had tons of post-its sticking out of my copy, because there are so many cute patterns! I’ve also read sewing blogs about sewing these patterns. So I knew that there was ease. And not just ease, but ease. Feminine Wardrobe is different than my other two books (Stylish Dress Book and Sweet Dress Book) in that it has a page where it gives you finished garment measurements. All three books have a size chart that puts me as the second-largest size, an M (they go from XS – L). I knew enough to be skeptical… My bust measurement is only 34″!

The finished measurement of C3 in size M is said to be 37 3/8″. The XS is 33 1/2″, the S is 35 3/8″ (the other finished measurements give are length and sleeve length). I waffled between making the XS and the S – I had decided to use a stable(ish) knit fabric from Fabricland, so I knew there’d be some stretch if I went too tight. In the end I decided to go for the S, for a little bit of ease, as that is how the styles in these books are meant to be worn.

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It turned out pretty cute! I quite like the sleeve, although it is hilariously big before putting the elastic in the cuff casing, I should’ve taken a picture of one arm with, one without. I like the bow at the front, although there are so many layers there, I felt like it didn’t quite lay right. You’ve got your pleated dress fabric (3 layers at the centre), the bow overlay, the facing (I used the same knit fabric, interfaced with a woven interfacing), and both ends of the tube that is the centre of the bow (that’s 4 layers on its own!!). I wasn’t sure what I could grade out or not, so it feels like it is sticking out 6″ from my chest. I also felt like the neckline at the shoulders has more height than an average item of clothing for the same reason.

I wore the dress to opening night as styled above – with a belt. Below, for posterity, is a picture of the finished dress sans belt:

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It’s a tent! I actually did a review of this make on my podcast as well, in Episode 44. It is near the beginning, just in case you aren’t interested in my knitting as well. The largeness really shows up on the video.

The chest measurement of this dress is closer to 39″, not the 35″ promised. That is with the pleats all lying nicely flat, and without the knit stretched at all! Maybe it stretched out from handling before I sewed it?

If I were to sew this again, I’d do the smallest size, and maybe even save myself the hassle of adding seam allowances, and just sew it as is to trim off an inch more.

Have you used Japanese sewing patterns before?

Megan Dress (in crazy iris print!)

Iris-print Megan Dress

So almost 4 months ago I said I was ‘so excited!’ to make another Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I’ve finally started it!

I’m not sure if I can call it a Megan dress though. I’ve used the Megan bodice, but I’ve added a waistband because I want to put a different skirt on it. I like dresses that are fuller on the bottom, I’m never usually comfortable in straighter dresses. I realize that as I’m sewing my own, I could make the bottom a different size to fit me better… but I just like volume on the bottom!

Speaking of volume, this fabric is turned up to 11! As I was cutting into it, it really hit me how crazy it is. I was wishing I had some solid black cotton to use for the waistband, but I don’t have much of a fabric stash, and solids? pfft, boring!

So, to define the band, I pulled out my box of vintage seam bindings and things, and found some ricrac in a grey-ish blue that is in some of the irises. I figured that if the whole dress is already crazy, why not pump up the crazy with some trim? I sewed the ricrac on to the band piece first, lining up a dip in the zigzag with the 5/8″ seam allowance. Then I sewed it to the bodice by stitching exactly along that line. Just the perfect amount of the little triangles show!

So for the skirt, I was originally thinking of using the Clemence pattern I drafted, and made up in cotton from the same line, but now I’m wondering about using the pleated skirt from the Lilou dress in Tilly’s book. I’ve seen a couple of those hacks on Pinterest, so I think it will work.

Last time I made Megan, the fit in the top wasn’t the best, and I was contemplating all these fancy edits and adjustments, but a couple friends talked me in to just making the next size up, which is what I’ve done here, I’ve made the 4 instead of the 3. It is hard to tell with no zip, so I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, did I mention I want to wear this on Thursday?

Clemence Self-Drafted Skirt

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I sewed a Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch! This ‘pattern’ is not actually a pattern, but a guide on how to draft your own skirt pattern, based on your own measurements! Tilly made it a lovely and clear process. Luckily I had saved a couple old fold-out maps from the recycling bin, when I remembered that this was a pattern I wanted to try, so my pattern pieces are old maps of Vancouver, which is fun.

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I did a contrast waistband facing, and contrast pockets, just because I could. I had plenty of the blue patterned quilting cotton, but I also had some green scraps leftover from wedding projects (this green was fabric I used for leaves on our paper flowers).

I definitely wanted pockets, but I also wanted French seams, so I used this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully! It was a little bit magical to have everything line up and for there to be no raw edges anywhere.

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I was much happier with this invisible zip than the one in my Megan Dress muslin. The big difference? I bought an actual invisible zipper foot, I didn’t try to muddle on through with my plain zipper foot.

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I used quilting cotton, which actually gives the skirt and all those gathers a good bit of body. I have a lot of skirts this shape, because I think they suit me – I’m already bigger on the bottom, what’s a few more gathers? Pencil skirts make me uncomfy. The funny thing about this skirt though, is that it has so much body that it stands out and doesn’t touch the back of my thighs. Storebought skirts in this shape still at least brush the backs of my thighs when I walk, so I know the skirt is still down where it should be. Not feeling that while walking in this skirt had me obsessively checking that I hadn’t tucked it unto my underwear all day!

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Twirl!

Skirts are rectangles. Did you know this?!

Finished Fantasy Renfrew Cowlneck Tee

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After the triumphant feeling of sewing my first knit tee, I treated myself to a paid pattern. I’d had my eye on the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee for a while, because I had heard that their patterns were drafted for ladies with small bust measurements compared to their hips. Basically – drafted for me. And, it’s fun to support a Vancouver-based business, yay Canadians!

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The fabric is from GirlCharlee, and I loved it so much I bought 6 yards! It is a fantasy doodle print, that reminds me of the covers of some editions of Tolkein’s books. There’s mountains, waves, trees, jumping fish, hills, all in a thin black line doodle on a nice heathered medium blue.

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The great thing about the Renfrew pattern (well, apart from the fact that I didn’t have to grade it to 3 sizes larger for my hips) is that they use self-fabric bands to finish all the edges! No trying to keep hem edges straight! No double needle!

I’ve been using a zig zag stitch to sew all my knit seams so far, and one day I was looking through my sewing machine’s manual to try to figure out which tension knobs did what. While doing that, I found that my machine also has a 3-step zigzag, which it claimed was great for stretch fabrics. I’ve been using that stitch, and it is wonderful, and neat, if a bit slow. The difference between zigzag and the 3-step zigzag is that for a regular zigzag, each zig (or zag) is 1 stitch. With the 3-step it takes 3 stitches to zig, then 3 stitches to zag back again. I also find it much neater than the regular zigzag but that may just be because I played more to get just the right tension setting.

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(I think of this photo as a Scruffy Badger face :))

I’m also really happy I bought this pattern because you get 3 sleeve lengths, and 3 neckline options to mix and match! I did the 3/4 sleeves, and cowl neck, although the sleeves are closer to elbow length on me. I cut a size 6 and it was just right. I may make the body 1/2″ to 1″ shorter next time though.

And of course, a picture of me reading my favourite copy of my favourite book:

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Finished Chain Plantain

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I ordered a whole shwack of knits from GirlCharlee.com over the summer, because I was so inspired by all the sewing blogs I’d just started devouring, and by all the tutorials that claimed you didn’t need a serger. Then the envelope of cuddly knits arrived, and I couldn’t bear to cut in to any of them, in case I ruined something. So I dug in my stash box, and found this chainlink knit that I bought 7, yes 7 years ago, the last time I thought I’d get in to sewing.

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The print is a little crazy. Crazy large! I’d seen a DVF wrap dress made out of it, and immediately wanted it. So I have a lot of this mad fabric. And it isn’t cotton, it is slinky and a little sweaty (I so rarely wear anything but mostly-natural fibres, so I may be extra sensitive to that). But I had it, and I didn’t mind cutting right in to it. I decided to use a free pattern for my first attempt at knits, so I used the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, which is a tee with various sleeve lengths, elbow patches, and a swingy shape.

I cut out a size 38, which seem to fit just right. I had some equally slinky black knit that I used for the neck binding and elbow patches.

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I used a double needle on the hem, cuffs and neckband. I fiddled with the various tension knobs on my machine and some scraps for quite a while, and finally got on with it even though I don’t think things are quite right. The stitching looks pretty even from the outside, but on the inside it is a little crazy. I think the problem is that I know where the tension knobs are on the machine, I just don’t know which controls what, and if higher means tighter, or lower does.

I’m so happy with it! Even if the print is a little cruise-tastic. I LOVE elbow patches, so that little oval is probably going to see some good use. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure out where to put patches on sleeves from other patterns though – these were clearly marked, and magically offset so everything ended up in just the right place. To trace the shape on to the sleeve, so I could sew the patches in the right place, I actually cut out that piece on the sleeve pattern piece, then traced around the inside with a disappearing marker, like a stencil.

This shirt was a great introduction to knits, and it really helped that I was working with a fabric I cared less about than the new ones I’d just bought. Sadly, I broke my double needle almost immediately after finishing this top. My sewing machine has the regular setting, where your needle is in the middle of the foot, and one where it is to the extreme left of the hole in the foot (this is where it goes to when it zig zags). The pictographs on the dial look very similar for straight-stitch and straight-stitch-left, so when I went to play with the tension some more, I didn’t notice that the needle was in its left position, so I snapped off half the double needle. First time I’ve broken a needle like that!

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And finally, a pose more often found featuring swimsuit models under waterfalls. I just had to show off those elbow patches some more!

 

What are your favourite knit sewing patterns? I want to sew everything now!

Knitting = Ravelry, Sewing = ?

What I really think the internet needs next, is a “Ravelry” for sewists. I love having my yarn stash pictured and linked so I can browse through. I love the queue and favourites features so I can remember what patterns I want to make. I want something like that for fabric and sewing patterns!
I haven’t really found anything like that yet, so I decided to try to use Pinterest. My biggest thing was that it needed to be nice and visual. I could have saved the jpgs in a folder on my computer, but that (a) isn’t accessible when I’m not home (b) is hard to leave notes, and (c) I just don’t like browsing through thumbnails like that. One of my other issues is knowing how many yards of fabric I bought. Most fabric stores still write you a paper receipt, which usually gets lost or recycled. If it doesn’t get lost, it usually just has a list like:

  • fabric, 3m
  • fabric, 2m
  • fabric, 3m

Not very helpful.

Also, sometimes I’m proactive, and throw new fabric in the wash as soon as I get home. Then months later I go to start a project, and can’t remember if I’ve washed it yet. Pinterest to the rescue!

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I created a board called Sewing – My Fabric Stash, and then pinned some fabric I’d bought. Online orders are great, because if you forget the yardage, you can log in and see your invoice! Sadly, that rule only applied to my latest/first GirlCharlee knits purchase.

The description of each pin is basically whatever I could gather from the selvedges and websites. It is nice to have the width, the type of fabric, stretch (for knits) and sometimes you can figure out the designer. Some, like the navy owl fabric, just say “Japanese Owl fabric bought at Britex”.

Then, I comment on my own Pins. Uncouth, I know! The first comment is the number of yards, because this is one of the most important things to know, and the first thing I know. Then I leave a separate comment if I’ve washed it (with a date, because, why not?) and then as I use things, I’ll update comments. That faux Fair Isle flannel’s last comment is ‘ALL USED UP SEPT 2014 PJ PANTS’. Capitals so it is obvious. I’m still undecided whether it is better to delete used up things or not though.

It didn’t fit in the screencap, but on the black and blue chainlink fabric, there’s a second comment that says ‘2 yards used, Deer & Doe Plantain top, 2 TOTAL LEFT’. Now I can know all these things at a glance!

I’ve also got other sewing boards set up – Sewing – Patterns I Own, and Sewing Pattern Queue. The former is pretty self explanatory, and much easier than flipping through pattern envelopes (that are not all stored in the same place, sigh) and pdfs on the computer, and the latter is for patterns I want to make but haven’t bought yet, and for pinning blog posts where people have made modifications I like. I just wish I could move pins around in their order, so I could put different pins for the same project near each other.

Faux Fair Isle Margot PJs

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I went out the other day to a new-to-me fabric shop. It was a little silly that I’ve never been there before, as it is directly across from the Fabricland I always go to!

I was looking for a double needle for sewing knits (which I used, and loved! And then broke, all in one day.). I found the needle, then decided to browse the fabric selection: as with every fabric store in town that I’ve visited… their focus was quilting. Now I’m not against a good print, or even a crazy print, but I would like to expand my sewing experience with some different types of fabrics. Or even try sewing something in a lighter-weight cotton! But I browsed the store anyway, because I can still appreciate a good print. I wandered in to the flannel section, and saw this:

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Fair Isle flannel! Love! I immediately thought of a new pair of PJ pants, and thought I’d try out Tilly’s Margot Pyjamas from Love at First Stitch. I did a quick search on my phone, but couldn’t find anywhere online that listed the yardage needed, so I bought 2m, and that adorable green mushroom fat quarter, and went home. I had thought the mushrooms might make a cute pocket. (If you want your own faux-fair-isle-jimjams, you can find this same fabric for half the price I paid on fabric.com. There’s also a grey/black/red colourway, and some actual yarn and needles themed flannel too.)

When I laid out the fabric on my kitchen island to cut, I realized that the way it is printed, if I were to cut out the way you usually lay out fabric, the stripes would be running vertically up my legs. Beetlejuice-pants-style. No thanks. Also, the pattern actually calls for 2.5m of 45″ wide fabric.

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Fine! Fabric is threads running 90 degrees to each other, right? I just need to line up the grainline 90 degrees to where it would normally be! I checked, and this is correct  but you should let garments cut like this hang before hemming because it may stretch out more. Sadly, the fabric wasn’t wide enough for the pattern pieces. Even though I’m so short.

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I’m short, and stubborn, because I really wanted to make those pants, from that pattern. So I did what any fairly new sewist would do, and drafted myself a waistband pattern. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough, so I decided that the waistband would have the uppy-downy stripes, and the rest of the pants would be sideways stripes. I just traced off TIlly’s pattern, making sure to include a seam allowance on both the pant and band pieces (I used 3/8″ to preserve that tiny bit more fabric!), and then sewed all the bands on to all the leg pieces. Voila, like I’d cut it out of one piece anyway!

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The back leg is longer than the front leg, because the back leg has room for your bum. (The back leg is also wider than the front leg. I was worried I had cut my fronts & backs in two different sizes, until I noticed the bit where Tilly says that the bits may not match up,  you just have to line of up the raw edges and all will be well.) My new front leg piece, a few inches shorter because of the waistband, fit on the width of my fabric. My back leg piece did not. So I decided I’d use the mushroom fat quarter at the bottom. I didn’t feel up to figuring out where to attach it, and how much would show, and all that, so I cut out my legs (which were now different lengths) and figured I would put everything together as-is, leaving a couple inches of the bottom side-seams unsewn to make it easier to sew the cuff fabric in later. Not the easiest way to do it, but I wanted to focus on making sure the waistband issue was ok first. That, and I was harbouring a secret hope that because I’m so short, the shortened leg would actually work out to be the right length for me.

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I made a stripe-matching snafu because I’d picked a point and thought to myself “Right, line up the crotch of each piece with the green pointy line in the fabric, and we’re good.” Turns out, there are multiple green pointy lines in the fabric, and I chose a different one for the back leg, so my side-seams don’t match up.

The pattern was lovely, and I can see how easy it would be if you hadn’t added 8 more pieces of fabric to sew, like I did. I love the way the waistband folds in and makes the perfect little drawstring casing and opening. I have a large roll of that apple green grosgrain leftover from wedding crafts (still!), and it was just the right colour for a drawstring.

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Above I’m sewing down the waistband fold/drawstring channel. You can see the seam where horizontal meets vertical.

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All in all the pants are a little wonky, a little crazy, and so cozy. I could have thought more about adding the cuffs, so my stitching line would have been higher up, and not in the middle of the green, I’m counting these as a win over all. They were the perfect thing to be sewing as we had a September snowstorm (what was UP WITH THAT?!).

Do you love flannel PJs as much as I do? Especially handmade ones!

Love at First Stitch

Last month, P and I went on a trip to England. We did all sorts of fun things that maybe I’ll get around to talking about here some time, but one of my goals while I was there was to pick up Love at First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes.

I’d watched the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last year or whenever it came out, and thought she was just great. Then I heard she had a blog, so I added that to my Feedly list. Since I was following the blog now, I knew there was a book coming, and I was looking jealously at finished objects all over the web because it hasn’t been released in North America yet! That won’t happen until mid-October. But, as I was out there on a trip in June…. We stopped by the new Foyle’s flagship (which is a wonder unto itself) and I picked up a copy a few days before we left (hey, I wasn’t going to cart more books around than I needed to for 3 weeks!).

Now, I have sewn before. Most of the time, it ended in tears. The sewing machine I use was a Christmas gift when I was about 9. Mum was a big sewist, but I never really got into it – I wanted every other craft but. I even did some sewing in university – in class! Theatre degree, remember? You have to take at least some basic costume classes (the semester after that we nailed bits of wood together and practiced not cutting fingers off on the table saw in carpentry class).

I decided that maybe this summer was the summer I’d really do it, really sew things that I would actually wear. The book is so well laid out, that it walks you through from easy-peasy firstie projects to a hand-drafted skirt and a lined dress. I felt way too impatient, so I jumped in on the simpler dress in the book, Megan.

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I have fabric that I actually want this dress in, and some other fabric that I had earmarked ages ago for another project. I decided to use the leaf/frog print as my muslin, not only to test the fit, but to dust off the few rusty skills I have. The embarrassing thing about about the frog fabric? When I was writing this post, I flicked through the ‘Sewing’ archives on the blog and found I bought it in 2007. Jeez. The Irises are from last summer, so they’re almost new comparatively!

Anyway, blah blah blah I MADE A DRESS. IT FITS. IT HAS AN INVISIBLE ZIP. (DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT THE BUM. That end of the zip is hard to do).

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Explorer Dress!

Although I bought the fabric (7 years ago…) to make into a project to wear outside the house… I’m not sure I’ll wear this outside. It was a great practice piece, it made me so confident! I installed a zip! Setting in the sleeves was pretty easy! The more I worked with the fabric though, the more I kept thinking of hospital gown/scrubs. I think the slight texture, which is almost seersucker-y, reminded of of textured paper gowns or something? Or maybe that was the fact I kept trying it on before I put the zip on, so it was like one of those backless gowns.

I did the size 3, but traced out to the size 4 for my rear (my hips aren’t the problem, it’s all the butt!) and it fits mostly quite well.

My only issues are that the back neckline stands out a bit from my body, which I think I know how to fix. (I may make that adjustment in a bodice in this fabric again, just to test.) The cap sleeves are a little tight when I try to move my arms up, I can feel them starting to bind a bit even to type this (yes, I’m wearing it while writing. No, I’m not sitting in an ergonomically correct position. Yes, that might be contributing). That’s a problem I have with most non-stretchy ready-to-wear garments though – apparently I have giant muscle-y biceps?

The next dress will be neater because I’ve done it once before already (OMG), and the fabric is more conducive to ironing. The texture on this fabric flattens out when you iron it, so for the first little while I wasn’t pressing as much as I should’ve. When I made the choice partway through that I wouldn’t be wearing this outside the house, I got more liberal with the iron, not caring so much if I flattened bits of it out.

I am so excited to do version #2, and then so many more projects! I want to sew a whole wardrobe for myself! Do you sew? Have you ever considered it? It is so much faster than knitting – even taking it sloooow, this dress only took a week. I couldn’t knit this much fabric in a week!

Cozy Wedding Quilt

I can’t throw out craft supplies. Especially if they’re from a project I love! That meant that 2 years after I got married in June 2011, I had a box of fabric still sitting in my closet. It had spare fabric from all sorts of projects: the toppers from our jam favours, the greens from the leaves in my handmade flowers, the extra bridesmaid dress fabric from Etsy, the giant swath of photobooth backdrop fabric. I’d been saving them, because I wanted to do something with them. Last summer, I decided it was time! Time to…. send them to someone else. I knew Quilts By Emily from her blog, (and of course, her Etsy shop full of cute quilts!) so I contacted her and asked if she would do a custom order. These things take time, and the finished quilt arrived just after Christmas!

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We had chatted via email about what pattern the quilt would be – I chose this one because it was bright and modern, and I thought it would let all the very different fabrics be showcased individually. I was a little scared of the peaches fabric being too close to the greens!

Emily kept the backing of the quilt a surprise, but I know from following her blog and shop that she always does something cool on the back.

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The back is crazy and amazing! And the peaches and green look fine together!

This is our cuddle-on-the-couch quilt, but I laid it out on our queen-sized bed so you can see how big it is. And, there was fabric left over! Emily sent it back with the quilt, so I need to find a simpler project for me to make with it. The only fabrics she bought to put into this were the white, and the blue for the binding. The blue is the same shade as the solid bridesmaid dress fabric, I didn’t have enough of it for her to do both the binding and the pluses.

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I’m so glad I paid a pro to do this – if I’d waited until I was confident enough with the sewing machine to do it myself… that day might never have come. Or I’d be 80 years old! It is such a great keepsake, and Cinnamon Buns loves it too. I kept it a surprise from him, and when he saw it he loved it. He liked that it is a really cool quilt, and that people looking at it might think only that, but we know why it is super-special.

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Have you re-used any of your wedding supplies or decor in your house?

Wooly Remake – Braided Scarf

The other day I mentioned that I voluntarily dragged out my sewing machine and used it without crying. This is a pretty big deal for me! My mum is a sewer – it’s what she did the whole time I was growing up. I have dabbled in just about every craft except sewing. I got this very sewing machine for Christmas when I was 10 or so, and have never used it without crying tears of frustration. It has probably been used less than once a year since I got it 17 years ago. The photobooth backdrop for our wedding needed one long seam sewn… I left it until my mummy arrived in town, so she could sew the big scary straight line.

Leave it to Pinterest to make me drag the machine out on my own! I saw this tutorial for  a braided t-shirt scarf and loved it:

But it’s October in Alberta and it won’t be warm enough for a jersey scarf until some time in May or June of 2012, so I wondered about making it out of old sweaters. Nice warm, fuzzy, wooly sweaters. Handily, I had an actual errand that needed doing today that brought me right next door to Value Village, so I popped in for a look at the sweater stock. I bought these two sweaters:

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I thought having one half patterned and one solid would be really fun, plus these two sweaters were by the same company, although they had slightly different makeups. The solid one is more wool than rayon, and the striped is more rayon than wool.

Here is where you see exactly how much ribbing draws a sweater in:

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I got distracted by the pretty colours and bought these sweaters in the section I’d buy sweaters to wear – the small section. To get more width to my tubes, and more length as well I should have been searching the L and XL sections. I stuck to the ladies department because I figured there would be better colours there, but image the yardage you’d get of an XL men’s sweater!

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My fabric pieces ended up being about 9″ wide, instead of the 15″ called for in the tutorial. I got two pieces each about 9″x16″ from the body of the striped sweater, and similar-shaped pieces from the sleeves. I managed to cut the body of the solid sweater into 3 9″ wide by 16″ish long pieces – this meant that one piece has a sweater side seam in it. I think it adds character because that sweater had exposed seams. I also cut rectangles out of the solid sleeves to practice on. To get enough length to loop the thing twice around my neck though, I had to get the seam ripper out and sew those two sleeve-y bits onto the the scarf. I didn’t find this out until after I’d made the main scarf tube, and I was proud of myself for figuring out how to add another section to the tube (put the inside-out sleeve over the end of the right-side-out tube, sew around the circle without sewing it shut).

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So it’s very patchworky – the striped bit has 4 pieces to it, the solid has 5, but I love it. And I actually like how one section is longer than the other! The solid is definitely softer and flowier than the striped half, but for two different fabrics, I think they go pretty well together.

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I wore it all day after finishing it, and I wore it around work that evening too. I kept petting it when I had time. :) It’s a little bit amazing to me to have a finished object in one day, in a matter of hours! It probably took me about 3 hours to make, with all the cutting and the sewing and the more sewing when it was too short. But for a knitter who can work on a pair of socks for a month or more, it was done like greased lightning!

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And this project has the distinction of being the first thing I have sewed without tears, and I didn’t immediately put the sewing machine back in the depths of the storage room when I was done. It’s still sitting here beside my desk, saying ‘see, it’s not that hard to work me!’ I was talking to my friend J about it at work (while wearing said scarf) and she said that you only really need just that one project to help you turn the corner. I was quite happy that she liked the scarf, and even asked me to send her the link to the tutorial – she knows how to sew like a pro. She is a pro, she’s the dresser at the theatre I’m at right now! That and she’s always dressed beautifully, so that’s quite a compliment to the scarf too, if she wants to make one. :)

Crafty enabling

So I’ve been distracted by Ravelry for the past couple days. :) I signed up to be a beta tester last Thursday or so, and I got my invite. I love it. Love love love.
Remember I went all crazy about CraftMemo a little while ago? I think they work well together. All my knitting stuff will (eventually) be in Ravelry, and all my other craft stuff will (eventually) be in CraftMemo.

Also, I now have my very own desk AND chair. I’m sitting there right now. Again, much love to the pretty desk and chair, and even more love to craigslist for giving me a place to find cheap stuff.

Went to Fabricland this evening to take advantage of their $3.49 pattern sale. It was just Butterick, but I bought a couple. Starting Sunday Simplicity patterns are $2.99, so I’m definitely going back. I figure for that cheap, why not?
I also found some knit fabric in the remaindered bins (50% off cheap, yay!). I want to make myself a jersey dress or two, so I bought this to try out this crazy material.

I have found the charger for my camera batteries, so I will get those going so I can take some pics of my desk and stash for Ravelry. :)

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I was just looking at sewing patterns (once the guy has come to paint our baseboards, we get to put the house back in order! The sewing machine can come out again!) and I found this one, Simplicity 3337:
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Is she trying to be Saffron (aka Yolanda, aka Bridget) from Firefly? Because she (and the dress) are doing a very good impression.

I wouldn’t make that particular dress, but I like the others.

Blogiversary-ish

I missed my unversary earlier this month! Strictly, I started my blog in September of 2004, but I only moved over to blogger in March 2006. Happy un-versary to me!

That said, I don’t have much to show from the past while. I have turned the heel on my first Roza sock, done the shaping and a few plain rows. Not much else. I’ve been uber-tired, so when they haven’t asked me to actually WORK and work (the impertinence! working? pah!) I’ve just felt sleepy and brain-dead. I’ve played a lot of Spider Solitare, Killer Su Doku (how can I concentrate on that but not a sock?), and looking at sewing patterns and fabric online.

I think, when I have time again, I’ll really like sewing. That collared shirt I started has been in a terrible state. I’ve got the pocket attached, and half a sleeve attached to each of the fronts. Nothing else. Rehearsal started and ate my life on the 18th.

I work (if you can call it that) from 8:30am-4pm, get home at 4:20ish, leave the house by 5:10pm at the latest, and am at rehearsal from 5:30pm-10ish. Luckily, the director has seemed tired the past few days, and has made an effort to finish early. But that still leaves me getting home late, typing up my notes/report of the rehearsal and feeling bone-tired. And always, somewhere in there, someone has to load/unload the dishwasher, clean the dishes that don’t fit, tidy the island so it can be used, and I still am YEARNING to get that storage room cleaned out. Sadly, the boything hasn’t been able to help out, as he has had a pretty similar schedule recently only he’ll start a bit later, and be home closer to midnight. Ahh, what we do for art. :)

That said, there’s all sorts I want to buy. Bad, consuming me. HotPatterns.com has some amazing clothing patterns, much more modern than anything Fabricland has. I’ve almost convinced myself to splurge on those. Then there’s Cookie’s sock patterns. I love all the knee socks. Would I ever finish a pair? Who knows. But after looking at the HotPatterns prices, these are ever so affordable.

My favourite line in the HotPatterns collection is the ‘Artful Dodger’ line. I just love that Victorian menswear-inspired look. Maybe I’ll work on getting together a good winter wardrobe. And some summer dresses. And a cardi-wrap. And so, SO much!

I have birthday money coming, so I may splash out as a treat for myself. Speaking of birthday, my amazing boyfriend bought us tickets to The Producers for tomorrow! I’m excited, we weren’t going to be able to go because of his show schedule, and my rehearsals schedule, but then my rehearsals were shuffled, making room for the Saturday matinee. Mum finds it highly amusing that two people ‘in the business’ have a much harder time seeing shows than everyone else. Ironic? Yes. Funny? No.

Progress report

I haven’t posted in a bit! And I’ve been busy. ish.
First, I don’t think I’ve ever posted pics of the capecho:
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That’s where I currently am. Tomorrow I should finish sleeve 2 (sleeve 1 is on the left looking weird because it is on a stitch holder) and hopefully start the collar. I’m leaving the sleeves on holders in case I want to lengthen them.
I haven’t tried it on… I only finished that first sleeve today, but I’m a bit scared. And I’m so close now I may as well finish. Wrapping it around me when it was just a line of pentagons, it did seem a bit long. I’m hoping sleeves will pull stuff down? Failing that, do you think it would be possible to get rid of the first pentagon? Un-pick it? The thing is, other pentagons are picked up along its edges; will they unravel, or can I fix that? We’ll see I guess when I get there. Each pentagon is 4″ on a side, instead of 5″ for the XS so hopefully it’ll work out.
I ordered some yarn off Etsy a while back, and it arrived the other day.
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They are both from Yarn Ahoy, who is now actually on vacation. The laceweight is amazing, all tan, gold, a touch of orange, a touch of green. It’s going to be something from Victorian Lace today (Leaf and Trellis with Trellis border I think? In the book it is yellow). The handspun is equally lovely, but unfortunately, I ordered sock yarn (in similar but darker colours than the laceweight). I emailed, and got one back the same day saying to keep the handspun, and she will send the sock yarn out free of charge. Now that is service. :)
This evening I went to Fabricland to get interfacing for the shirt I’m making. And of course, you can’t go into Fabricland without buying other stuff. Stuff I need though, like a seam ripper (mine broke), rotary cutter (whee!), thread (oooh, not black or white!), some patterns (I was planning on those), and some fabric (not planning on that).
I’m going to make a summer dress (one of the patterns I bought) and I found the cutest fabric:
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Bugs, frogs, lizards and leaves. So cute! And see what the leaves say?
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I’m an explorer! (Why do I hear that in a Ralphie Wiggum voice?)
Cute, casual, summer dress coming right up. After I make one in the stripe.

My gripe with the pattern I bought (McCalls 4826) was that it had two possible envelopes to buy. One was sizes 4-10, the other 12-18. Looking at the measurements, I couldn’t decide if I am a 10 or a 12! (which is a weird debate in itself, because most things I own are a 2 or 4). In the end I did notice that they had a finished garment measurement as well, so I went with the 10. That was odd, because a size 12 is a 34″ bust, but the finished garment bust was 35.5″. Halters are not something you want ease in, I thought. A 10 has a finished bust of 34″, but the body measurements say bust = 32.5″. As I’m 33″-ish, I think I made the right choice…. But that’s why I’ll make a muslin.

Bits and bobs

So this is what happened to my needle:
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I’m going to email the Denise company and let them know.

I finished sewing the skirt! I put in a zip! Did French seams! Made some mistakes! But it fits, and there’s no raw edges hanging out. And when I say fits…. when they say ‘waist measurement’ they mean WAIST. I’m so used to the waistbands of everything I own being below my belly button, that I sort of forgot. So the skirt fits, but definitely sits much higher than anything else I own. Not that I’ll be wearing it, this was a learning thing.

Tonight I cut out fabric for my next project, the green shirt from this pattern:
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Although I’m doing it in a stripe, with one pocket that I have stolen from the pink version. The same stripe I did the skirt in, actually. I started with 9m of that fabric, I’m going to have a whole wardrobe soon.
It was great, the pattern was already cut out for me! And all the bits were still there, which was a worry.

I have frogged the Bubble-stitch Vogue sweater, and I’ve actually put the yarn up on eBay. A whole 12 skeins of Classic Elite Waterspun! I’ve just had it for so long and never done anything, it’s just excess baggage. That, and I have ordered some yarn, and I need to (a) make space and (b) feel not so guilty by selling some stuff. It’s not like I can’t afford it, I’m just not used to having extra yarn money. I made a Webs order. And let’s just say I qualified for the 25% discount. In my defense, I will be receiving yarn for 5 projects ($1.50 Cardi, Eyelet Rib Bandeau, Anemoi Mitts, Raspy, Crinkle), and if you average the price out, it’s super cheap. Usually for sweaters I end up paying more more for yarn than I would for ready-made, but this is much, much cheaper. But yeah, I was just tired of looking at that brown yarn. It’s making me wonder what else I can sell off.

I’ve got some beaded necklaces I made ages ago, I never wear them. I may put those up on Etsy. Hm, if I take pictures tonight, I can do that from work tomorrow….

I’ve done a couple more pentagons on the Sanddollar/Capecho thing. With my gauge, each side is coming out at 4″, a whole inch smaller than the smallest size listed. I’m hoping this will cut down on the flappyness. Tomorrow I should finish the last pentagon, and start on the sleeves!

Tomorrow evening the boything and I are going to see 300 in IMAX which will be so cool. The last thing we saw in IMAX was V for Vendetta, so it has a tough act to follow. :)