Monday, April 27, 2009

My Spring Top Week Top!

Done! There are two things that I don't usually like: a lot of hand sewing, and working with chiffon. This top involved a bunch of both, so it's a small miracle that it's finished!

Spring Top Week top

This is my top of Spring Top Week, hosted by Rae!

I really liked the J Crew tshirts and cardigans with chiffon trim. Specifically, this gorgeous chiffon trim tissue tshirt cardigan... which is $58.00. It's gorgeous, but that's a bit much for a fancy tshirt. So I bought a yard of gray chiffon from Paron's, and this tissue weight black knit from Spandex House (it's soooooo soft. I wish you could share textures online!).

The base pattern that I used is Jalie 2566, the cardigan from the knit twinset pattern. I shorted the sleeves to just above elbow length, but otherwise kept it the same- I didn't cut the band, though. Then I carefully laid out my chiffon on my rotary cutting board. It had been torn off the bolt, so I had a vertical edge that was on the grain, so that went along one of the vertical lines on the grid printed on my cutting board. (Can I add a note that one real reason why I LOVE the garment district stores in NYC is that they tear fabrics when they cut your yardage? As opposed to JoAnns, where they cut wonky angled lines and you can easily be shorted by 1/4 a yard. AND torn fabrics are easier to true up!) So I lined the selvedge up on a horizontal line, and carefully smoothed until everything was lined up. Then I used a rotary cutter and ruler to cut about six three inch wide strips of chiffon on the true bias (I have a line printed on the cutting board for that, which I followed).

Next I joined enough strips to get a long strip of chiffon that was about a foot longer than the front/neck edge of the cardigan. I stitched it- folded in half and purposely twisted in a few places- to the outside of the front edge of my cardigan. The folded edge of the chiffon was even with the raw edge of the knit. Then I flipped it to the inside and top stitched down, so a bit peeked out the edge.

spring top week top

Next I took the other strips of chiffon and free hand gathered them with a needle and thread into rosette shapes and stitched them down. There are two snaps hidden under the bottom rosette, which is how the cardigan closes. I'll wear this over a camisole as a dressy spring tshirt.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

garment district shopping

My feet are going to fall off. For real. I spent the day in NYC with an old friend from Seattle who now lives in NJ. She just got engaged, and she's thinking of learning how to sew to make her own wedding dress. So, you know, I had to bring her to garment district! We went to Sposabella, NY Elegant Fabrics, Parons and MJ Trim and oooohed over lots of gorgeous fabrics. I know that doesn't sound like a big list of stores, but we really went through them carefully, looking at every kind of silk and fancy dress fabric they carried. We'll see if she ends up making a dress, but at least now she knows what organza is, what silk gazar feels like, and all that essential stuff. ;-) Then we took off to Soho for lunch, and I ended up stumbling over the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck shortly after saying goodbye to her. I LOVE them, it's the best ice cream cones in NYC.

I wore my new white denim skirt, and it was great in the heat, but since this was a girls day out, I also got dressed up in my aerosoles heels, which are usually pretty comfy to walk around in, I spent too many hours on my feet hiking around the city in 88F heat today though, and now my poor feet are toast. My skirt worked nicely in the heat though!

dan I picked up a new Kwik Sew bathing suit pattern at Parons when we stopped there because... I'm going to Florida for the first time in my life in 6 weeks! With my sailor! We're spending a couple days in Miami while he's down there for work. This will be almost a year after we went to Monterey for his work last year, and sort of the same setup- I amuse myself during the day, and we hang out and explore on the weekend and in the evening. This should be exciting- Miami! The photo is my sailor, staring out to sea on a beach in Monterey last May.

The pattern I bought isKwik Sew 3330 which is a string bikini top and a banded bikini bottom, and I hope I'll have time to make it up before the trip.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Knipmode 07-2008-04 - Summery white denim skirt

Certainly getting my money's worth from the July 2008 issue of Knipmode! However, this is kind of a difficult review to write. I ended up with a wearable skirt in the end, BUT. I think that there's something in the dutch instructions that I can't read that is essential to making this skirt.

You can see the "BUT" below. This weekend I'll add a picture of pattern pieces and write up a longer description of the goof up with this skirt. You can see why I shouldn't write an analysis tonight in this photo here- I didn't even process the JoAnns coupon stuck in the mirror frame until I uploaded this photo. Ooops! I spent the last 10 hours or so writing java code, and my brain has kind of turned to mush.

knipmode 07-2008-4

I made this skirt a few days ago, but tonight was the first time I had enough light in the evening to get some decent photos. Here's a side view. Look at the upper back... I'll wear it with a tshirt untucked, and it's usually not that wrinkly when I'm not twisting around, but you can get a hint of what I think is the root cause of my "oops" there.

knipmode 07-2008-4

I need to work some more on my fly fronts

knipmode 07-2008-4

A view of the back waistband pieces

knipmode 07-2008-4

And this... these triangles should really match up. They're off set enough that I can claim that it's intentional, and I'll certainly wear the skirt, but I'm so frustrated it turned out this way. My own fault, I didn't walk the pattern pieces after tracing, and I obviously couldn't read the directions. I've never had trouble puzzling out Knipmode (or Patrones, for that matter) pieces fit together, but there's clearly a first time for everything.

knipmode 07-2008-4

The fit is pretty good, but I do wish it had some front pockets. I left off the side pocket since it was huge and too stiff in denim. I didn't line it, only because I have a white slip that fits perfectly underneath which I'll wear it with. The denim isn't terribly see through, but I line or wear a slip with everything, white or not. It drives me nuts to see women walking around wearing unlined skirts that, seriously, need a slip.

While we're looking at denim skirts, I bought this Loomstate for Target one the other day. It has a teensy bit of spandex in it so it's really comfy. There were only a few pieces out at my Target, so I hope they add more soon!

loomstate for Target

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Spring Top Week" and vintage patterns

Next week is "Spring Top Week" hosted by Rae. Nooo idea what I'm going to make...

And here, finally, are pictures of the vintage patterns I bought. I also got a little booklet about coat making, which has some wonderful advice in it. (You can click through all the photos to see them larger on flickr)

A 1950s little girl dress with an adorable balloon pocket on the skirt. There's also a pattern for a petticoat and a bolero. My mom says she had a few outfits like this and points out that the girls are wearing hats and gloves.


Another little girl dress from the 1950s. This one also includes a pattern for a matching dress for a 14" doll.


A little boy's coat from the 1940s, and a view of the instructions. This one has a pattern and directions for the hat as well.



Another boy's coat with a hat

A boy's suit


A girl's coat from the 1950s

This pattern I've had for a few months, but I don't believe I've shown it here. It has an adorable button on hood. My sister has a request in for this one, with the hood, for Kate for next year.


An envelope....

A note....

Making a coat!

The first page

Some more pages inside:



My mom says that pre-internet and sewing blogs, you would request booklets like this from the government all the time. She actually has a few still, and she pulled them out to show me, but none are on sewing.

I bought all of these off etsy, which is a really great resource for finding cute patterns. Ebay has been slowly driving me nuts for a while, mostly with the fact that you can't just put things into your shopping cart and keep them there for a few days while you figure out which patterns you want.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

knipmode shorts

I went to Target this morning, and they had a bunch of very cute just-above-the-knee shorts. It reminded me that I needed new khaki shorts, since I pretty well trashed the two I had last year digging around on the farm. So I tried on about 10 pairs, and - go figure- none fit. They were mostly cut for women with nowhere near the hip-waist difference I have. The idea of a nice pair of khaki slant pocket shorts got into my head though, though, and I had a vague memory of having seen a similar pattern in one of the Knipmodes that I had. When I came home I dug it out... July 2008, #11:

knipmode shorts

I traced a size 38, and enlisted my mom's help with the center back seam. I kept putting them on inside out, and she'd pin the center back seam, and I'd baste, and we'd try again. For some reason when I first did a sway back adjustment, it had made a weird pooch effect lower down, hence all the tries to fix it. We eventually got something that was OK.

The fly front drove me nuts, due entirely to my own stupidity. Let's see... it started off ok with hand basting the zipper in. But I managed to catch the fly shield in the second zipper seam (D'oh!) and had to unstitch that. Then I got a weird bump sewing over the zipper when doing the topstitching. It was just way fiddly today for some reason!

For the waistband facing, I used the trick I've read about on many blogs of sewing the interfacing to the facing- right sides together- then flipping it to the wrong side and ironing it down. It worked wonderfully, and then I just tacked down the facing at the side and center back seams.

Here's a not-great photo of them on me, out on the deck. (The blouse is from Nordstrom from my last trip to Seattle. I'm in awe of the pattern matching on the center front, even with a covered button placket!)

knipmode shorts

Anyway, now that we've sort of figured out the center back seam- I think I might track down some more ripstop from JoAnns if they still have some and make a pair with some cargo pockets and possibly a back pocket or two.

I finally got the vintage pattern photos off my camera, so here's a peek at one of them. This is a size 8, so I'll have to wait a bit to make it for Kate, but it's so adorable that I had to buy it. It's from the 1950s.

sailor collar pattern

pictures of the nieces and nephew

This morning I took some photos of some new-to-me vintage patterns I'd bought recently on Etsy, but I haven't yet uploaded them off of my camera. I'll work on that later... in the meantime, here are a few photos of the kids. This is Kate wearing the sweetheart neckline dress to my dad's birthday party. She cleverly put a jeweled-neckline tshirt under the dress so that it would show above the dress's necklin


And here is more of the kids in their easter outfits. A nice view of what nutcases they all are. I ended up running out of time for Tom's outfit, so he's wearing something my sister bought. I love the little doublebreasted top!

easter dresses

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Kate and Ana in their blue dresses:


Kate's dress closeup:


I wore an Isaac Mizrahi dress from Target that had striped fabric sewn in gores to make chevrons. Super neat:

My brain was kind of deep fried by this afternoon- yesterday was my dad's birthday, and he wanted a roast turkey for his dinner, so I'd spent about 6 hours in the kitchen roasting the turkey and making all the side dishes and a cake. Then we had brunch this morning- I'm done with cooking for a bit now! I decided to make up some ripstop cotton from JoAnns into a skirt in the hopes that it would warm up a bit this week so that I could wear it.

This is the A-line skirt from last March's BWOF that's kind of become my default skirt pattern. I hemmed it with a binding cut from a mendicino print, since all my quilt pieces are stacked up near my sewing machine.

I drafted a pocket for the side:

It's lined in bemberg ambiance, which I still detest sewing with. Unfortunately, I really love how nice it is once the skirt is done, so I gritted my teeth and made it work. The ribbon for the waistband is from my grandma's stash- I love all the soft wide grosgrain ribbons she's collected over the years! She's always happy for me to raid her sewing room, so I've got a nice little stash of them at the moment.

Here's the hem of the skirt and lining.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fold Up Quilt Bindings

For BeeBee, a link to where I learned about this fold-up quilt binding:

How to Bind a Quilt. . . the easy way. at Pleasant View Schoolhouse

another cozy quilt
another cozy quilt

I remembered that I had a bunch of squares left over from the 2007 christmas quilts for the kids, and a bit of batting, so I made up another quilt for my sister's car and practiced some more free motion quilting on it. I tried use the multi colored machine quilting thread from Coats and Clark, but it kept snapping. Then I tried Coats 100% Cotton, which is the thread I generally use, and it also kept snapping! I was kind of frustrated and confused, because I didn't have a single broken thread doing Tom's quilt. I remembered I'd use Gutermann 100% cotton thread, so I pulled that out, and used it. It worked beautifully, but I'm a bit annoyed because there are only three places where I can buy it and they're all in the garment district! I'm used to being able to run to JoAnn's for more thread when I need some, so I'll have to make a point to stock up on this.

While I was poking through my quilt squares, I figured I'd see how far I've come on my Mendicino Quilt. Not too bad... just over half way there. My backing is a robin egg's blue King sized sheet, so I just need enough squares to cover it. My king sized cotton batting is quite a bit bigger than the sheet, so I'll be doing a lot of trimming I guess.
my quilt, in progress

Friday, April 3, 2009

cozy quilt

cozy quilt It's all done, and crinkly from the drier! My headache never really went away, but it was worse if I sat still and thought about it, so I just kept plugging away on the quilt until it was finished. I've had my Sapphire 830 since December, but I'd never tried free motion quilting on it. I decided I might as well give it a go with this quilt, especially as Tom isn't even 2 yet, so it's not like he's going to complain about imperfect quilting. So I put on the special foot, set the machine into the little "hop" mode it does for free motion quilting, and had a go at it. My finished quilt is only 33"x37", so it was a good size to practice on.

The backing is a nice rocketship print quilting cotton, which I turned around to the front as a binding as well.
cozy quilt

I've been saving "boy" scraps in a bin for a while now, so there were lots of strips to use. Here is the quilt before washing & drying:

cozy quilt
cozy quilt
cozy quilt
cozy quilt

And this is after washing, although the wrinklyness might not be all that obvious in the photo.

cozy quilt

It took me a while to sort out how to hold the quilt to make nice curved shapes. I kept losing grip of it, and it would tug, and I'd get sharp edges in the stitching.
cozy quilt

I got a bit better as I went along and figured out how to hold it more carefully.
cozy quilt

Here it is waiting for the edges to be trimmed and the back turned up as a binding
cozy quilt

All finished and wrinkly
cozy quilt

This is Tom's easter present, so now I get to pet it on the sofa for a week or so before I have to give it up.