Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricanes & Halloween

I couldn't let Halloween go by without a little bit of sewing - Kate requested a "snow princess dress" and Ana wanted to be a 1940s nurse.

Ana has a book with a nurse in it who wears a blue & white striped dress, white apron, and an old fashioned nurse cap. I didn't find any blue & white striped material I liked, but I did remember that I had this blue & white checked silk/cotton fabric. I thought I would use that material & just make it a simple, nice dress that could be re-worn for parties and things.

Halloween Costumes

Kate's outfit was, of course, just going to be a Halloween costume so I bought some icky poly costume stuff at JoAnns, swore at it nonstop while I was cutting and sewing, and muddled my way through. It's OK, she loves how it came out.

Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

I hope everyone survived Hurricane Sandy OK. I dropped my sailor off at his ship on Saturday night & haven't seen him since. I've gotten a few text messages so I know that he is OK, just very very very busy. We lost power for a little over 30 hours; I was prepared for that so I came through OK.

Our town had some flooding, but nothing like towns nearby. If you don't yet have power back, I hope it comes back soon!

Hurricane Sandy early morning in Jersey City

Monday, July 30, 2012

Butterick 5333

This project was a lesson in why I like to make muslins.

Butterick 5333 has one view that is very similar to a White House Black Market dress that Michelle Obama wore on TV during the 2008 campaign. It was my favorite of all her awesome outfits.

Here is my first muslin - this is with no pattern alterations at all.


Let's see: too tight in the hips, I need more upper bodice length, gaping at the neckline... and probably other smaller issues. I went back and cut apart the paper pattern to fix those problems and stitched it up. Considering how badly the muslin fit, this may have been a brave move, but I felt that I had gotten close enough to fudge with fit in the final garment stage.

It's still a WIP, but as the USCG Change of Command ceremony which I plan to wear the finished dress for is Wednesday, I suppose I'll be sweating away the evening hours tonight finishing it up!

First, here's a comedy photo. I didn't pay any attention to pattern placement on the facing which of course guaranteed the best possible motif placement. Thank goodness this is inside.

dress insides

The midriff is lined in silk shantung (more wedding dress leftovers...) and the skirt is lined in silk habotai (ditto). The top facing is the fashion fabric, which is a 100% cotton that I think I bought at Mood last summer.


butterick 5333

The back zipper is a metal one from Pacific Trim. I am newly a metal zipper snob.

I still need to hem it and stitch down some navy blue ribbons on the midriff panel, although I may be lazy and skip that step. We'll see how much energy I end up with on tracking down some blue ribbon in my stash. (;

Sunday, July 15, 2012

box bags


A little bit of sewing- I've been making up a new set of box bags. These are for my trip to Portland, Oregon tomorrow; I've stored my pile of electronics chargers in one and socks and PJs in the other.


Box bag

I love this little swiss forest print. unfortunately given the layout I had put the houses horizontally on the bag, but that's OK as it's just going to live in my suitcase.

box bag

I did also sew up a new dress, although it's waiting for a hem and some trim to be added. When I get back I'll post the dress and the muslin; it was a little tricky to alter and I'm still not completely satisfied with the bodice fit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vogue 1072

This weekend is the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island. It's great fun, with the idea to dress up like it's the 1920s, listen to jazz and picnic. You can see pictures from past years (and by now probably also this year) on flickr. This week there's also an article in the NYT about the guy who founded the concert.
Since I've finally had time to sit down and sew, so I wanted to make up an outfit to wear to the party. Most folks dress up in flapper gear- fringe, glitter, lots of lace and so on, but I was thinking more in terms of what would a "normal" woman of the 1920s wear to a picnic. I ended up choosing a pattern that is a 1940s Vogue re-issue but felt vaguely 1920s-ish to me with the longer skirt and dropped hemline on the blouse. Vogue 1072 has a top with two sleeve lengths, pleats at the neckline, and a button front.
For this outfit I chose a silk/cotton from Mood, as that's one of my favorite fabrics to sew with. I wanted something light enough that I wouldn't wilt too badly if the day ended up being 95F. Thankfully it stayed mostly in the upper 70s, perfect temperatures!
It was accessorized with a little straw hat that had a sort-of cloche shape to it and my favorite ecco sandals. And of course there's a pocket in the skirt to hold my cellphone!
The skirt pattern from V1072 is a yoked straight skirt, which I decided to pass on and instead use different pattern. In the end I went with a skirt that is cut more on the bias since I wanted a little bit of a flare to the shape. It was lined in a plain cotton voile. The voile kept the outer skirt from wrinkling too badly while I sat on our picnic blanket. It felt important to me to wear a longer skirt that fell below my knee- if you look at photos from the 1920s, it was still pretty uncommon for women to wear above-knee-length dresses. Of course most of the folks at the party had on super short skirts- cute, but they didn't feel as vintage as the longer dresses.
Skirt lining
The blouse was unlined, but came through the day OK, even though I did drop a bit of chocolate ice cream on the front. Ooops. Here is the inside of the blouse after a day of wear:
Shirt innards
The blouse and skirt both have a hand stitched hem:
shirt hem
It was great fun checking out all the outfits that people were wearing; there were folks in perfect 1920s get up to people in sort of retro inspired outfits to just nice modern dresses.
I went with two friends and we had a nice time walking around the island after we'd had enough Jazz Age partying.
Jazz Age Lawn Party

Sunday, April 22, 2012

pacific northwest

Hello forlorn sewing blog.

I've been 3000ish miles away from my sewing machine recently...




Do these fish look familiar to you? How about the tulips? ;)

Yup, I've been been in Seattle for a while for work. This is actually pretty thrilling for me, as Seattle has always been "home" so have the chance to be out here, even if I'm in an office most of the time, is fabulous. I managed to slip away yesterday for a walk to Pike Place Market when the sun came out. The Cascades were off one horizon, the Olympics were stretched across the other, Rainier was out, and it warmed up into the 60s. Sigh... perfection.

I've been getting my sewing fix in reading everyone's sewing blogs and looking at patterns. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys a bit of spring sunshine, whereever you are!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I am a lucky lady

I was browsing sewing blogs yesterday when I came across this fabulous sewing notions rail on the Coletterie blog. If you haven't seen it, click on over and take a gander- what a neat way to organize your rulers and sewing shears and other notions!

I clicked the "email this post" link in google reader and shot it off to the sailor with a note "some day this summer will you help me hang up a rail like this for my rulers?" and put it out of my mind. Well. Apparently the sailor was on his ship still when he got the mail, and showed it to some of his crew. They told him that he was just a newly wed so perhaps he didn't recognize that this could be see as operational orders for him to follow.

So.... this was all unbeknownst to me until I came home, very tired, from work today and stepped into the office. Oh my. Have a look at what was waiting for me:

sewing notions organization

sewing notions organization

Hooray! Isn't that the sweetest surprise? It certainly made my week! I spent a while puttering around and hanging up more quilting rulers and french curves on it and moving seam rippers around in the cups. Very cool! And I can second Sarai's recommendation, this pot rail makes quite the wonderful sewing notions organizer. :o)

I have done a bit of sewing recently, I just don't have great pictures yet. Perhaps I should hang my camera up on one of these hooks...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A raincoat

This is me, about to head out on an exciting trip to Target with the sailor. In my finished Minoru Jacket!
Yes, at long last I've wrestled the heavy canvas into a suprisingly water resistant jacket. Not super water proof, because it's only cotton and I didn't tape the seams, but it works well enough to run to the train in a rain shower. The canvas is from BJs and it's been lightly treated to be water resistant - water will bead up on it and run off pretty easily.
I apologize for the crazy photos... my sailor does many things well (ship handling, dealing with my mother, making me laugh, making tasty scrambled eggs) but taking fabulous fashion photographs of finished garments is maybe a smidge outside his skill set. ;)
I did not shorten the arms here, having had a disaster in the past with too-short arms on a coat. I wanted to wait and see what they would really look like. So... next time, I will fold about an inch and a half out of the upper arm, where you can see it bunching up on me.
You can see here how "poufy" the collar is with a thick canvas hood stuffed inside.
I did a little tweak to the inner pockets and made one a zip pocket... modeled on one of my favorite parkas. The inside zip is great for holding a metrocard and some cash and is easy to access.
I lined it in cotton solely because this print reminds me of clouds and I loved the idea of a cloudy lining to a rain coat.
I will definitely be making another one, probably with a lighter material. Several years ago I bought some thin silvery blue poly rain coat material in Paron's Annex, so I might use that, underlined with something a bit beefier like flannel. I think this coat really needs a material with a little bit of body. In addition, next time I will shorten the sleeves and add some inseam pockets.
The part that I was most freaked out about, sewing the elastic waist, turned out to be the easiest. It was a little tricky to thread the elastic through with just a safety pin attached to pull on. But the casing came out straight - the lines I marked with a chalk pencil did not, as I'd feared, entirely rub off during construction. Yay!
The sewing was a pretty long process, and I did goof up a lot in other spots. If you look you'll see that one of the plackets is not straight and nicely squared off at the bottom (ooops), and the top stiching was a little wonky in places. However, overall the coat came out pretty nicely.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pink and Red

Do you know how excited I get when I hear that a coworker is having a baby girl? :o) I love making little crib quilts and it's always fantastic to have an excuse to whip up a girly pink tiny quilt. Here's one I made last week to welcome a new girl. It's very simple, just a charm pack with a few extras mixed in, and a crib size piece of batting. It went together very quickly since it's so small.

pink quilt

Here's a closeup of some of the pretty prints in this charm pack.

pink quilt

I also recently stumbled over some University of Alabama quilting cotton on and almost had a heart attack from excitement. My dad went there and is quite possibly the biggest Crimson Tide fan on the face of the earth. So I had to buy two prints, and I made him up a little sofa cushion and a little grocery bag. I can't wait to give them to him.

alabama pillow alabama bag

And finally... I am at last catching up on the Minoru Sew Along!

My fabric is a very very heavy water resistant outwear cotton from BJ's. It's definitely one of the most expensive fabrics I've ever bought, but I really wanted something that would keep some rain out without being a nylon or poly. The fabric is very stiff- pretty much a canvas- and it's been a bear to sew. My top stitching and gathering could be better, but this is as good as I can get with my machine, which is just not cut out to sew really heavyweight fabrics.


The zippers are metal ones from Pacific Trim. Hey, if I'm using $25/yard outwear fabric, I'm not tossing in cheap plastic zippers; I'm going for the theory that using good fabric and notions here will make it come out nicely. Wish me luck. ;)

Here's the shell so far on my dressform

minoru shell

So far I like it, but we'll see how it comes out in the end!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I didn't realize it had been a whole month since I'd updated west 38th. Oh my. I do have a smidgen of sewing to show off, although it was for an online swap instead of for me. But it was fun, especially this little kitty cat zipper bag!


This is the L2 bag from Sewing workshop - lined with laminated cotton so that it's a good grocery shopping bag. The print is by Sandi Henderson - one of my favorites from her latest line. I have some extra of this fabric to maybe make pillows from.


I still love this bag pattern, because it holds a lot of stuff. I haul around way too much nerd nonsense all the time. Here's a pile of all the stuff that was in my purse today - this is minus the lunch bag and lots of random papers I had crammed into my bag.

in my bag

I haven't done much other sewing, but I have been doing a bit of bread baking! We got a fantastic wedding present from one of my aunts who is a very accomplished cook - a cloche for making crusty breads in. It's the Sassafras La Cloche, and it works REALLY well. Sad that it took me months to get it out and use it, but -wow! It was worth getting it out. I've been working on the master recipe whole wheat bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is the whole wheat & gluten free bread book by the famous Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day folks.

Here's my third ever loaf of whole wheat bread...


You can see that the cloche really does give it a super nice crust. Mmmm.

Happy sewing :o)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

zip zip

Should I just start every post here with "OMG, so busy!!"? ;) The year has been flying by far too fast for us so far.

It was sadly time to put away the Christmas tree - see you next year, Santa Clauses.


I did manage to find time to make up a little outfit for Kate - an Ottobre Tshirt and a little white baby cord skirt. Since she loved the slip from her 1950s dress so much, I layered this one with some floral quilting cotton to make a "slip" that could show. The skirt has a little waistband that has elastic running through it.
skirt detail
The t-shirt fabric was bought off Spoonflower a while ago (here). I wanted to try out their organic cotton knit, and I was pleasantly surprised that it's a nice knit! Has some horizontal stretch, and it's just a smidge thick but very soft. Good stuff for kids clothes.
raglan T
Here it is on Kate.
Kate Skirt
One last shot - I snuck in a quick visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day. I finally have a membership so I can slip in for a short visit and not feel guilty about not getting my money's worth from the visit! ;) Here's a quick view of one of the schmancy french rooms they have. Those are always interesting to walk through & imagine living in such fancy surroundings.
Happy sewing!