Sunday, May 31, 2015

Outfit Along 2015 Plans

I've decided to give the 2015 OAL a shot! If you're unfamiliar with the concept, you can read all about it here, but to sum it up, you basically have two months to sew a thing and knit another thing, and in the end, you have an outfit, and as a bonus, a chance to win a prize.

I already had the pattern in my stash, and have been really wanting to try out one of McCall's patterns with the sizing by bust cup built in, so I just had to convince myself that I should set aside my current knitting project and start Vianne (or at least, something that can be finished in the two month time period; my current project is Kate Davies' Foxglove, which is not going to happen in two months - especially when factoring in full time work, school, and life in general!) I'm not sold on Vianne as is, because from the front, it's a knock out, but then the back? I'm not especially in love with the look of the mesh, but more importantly, I don't like the sagging-in-back detail. I read on the OAL2015 Ravelry thread that she's considering publishing info on how to do away with the mesh, but I'm not sure how soon that will take place. . . If it's quite soon, that would sell me on Vianne, because again, from the front, it's gorgeous!

McCall's 6887, Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan, Valley Yarns Longmeadow in 08 Coral, sailboat cotton popin, for OAL 2015

I've selected some navy poplin with a white sailboat print, and I'm currently thinking of combining views of the pattern so that I end up with the flared skirt, the non-cut-out bodice back, and the sleeve option. . . Well, that one is up in the air! I initially thought sleeveless, but then I rather like the cap sleeves of view D.

For the cardigan, I wanted to make something that was appropriate for warmer weather. I've had coral on the brain lately so I knew that was the color I wanted, and that I wanted to try working with cotton or linen. I also needed it to be the right weight of yarn, and to be affordable. The yarn I found that fit all my needs is Valley Yarns "Londmeadow," in color #08. And again, for the pattern, I'm considering Vianne, but it will depend on what I can do about altering the back. . . I'll also want to deviate from the pattern a bit more by shortening the sleeves, to keep with my plan for a warmer-weather cardigan. So here's what PhotoShop and I came up with:

Outfit Along 2015 plans, coral cardigan and sailboat poplin dress

This plan makes me really happy! I can definitely see this being an outfit I will get a ton of wear out of, especially since I have shoes this exact color already. And apparently, I accidentally matched my Kindle cover as well. . .

OAL 2015 accidental matching of coral kindle case to yarn

As I said, I have coral on the brain right now! ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deer & Doe Aubepine Dress

I was (very belatedly!) looking over my 2014 projects and doing sort of a wrap-up and realized that I had never blogged my last two completed non-historic sewing project of 2014! There was a Washi dress (which I think I never blogged about because the neckline turned out badly, and I might yet unpick things and deal with that before posting), and a Deer & Doe Aubepine dress, which I'm so happy with!

Deer and Doe Aubepine Dress

I am one of those unlucky people who can typically never use a pattern straight out of the envelope. Everything has to be tested and adjusted for my chest-to-frame ratio, among other things. I caught wind that Deer & Doe patterns are sized for a C cup and thought that maybe I'd have less re-patterning work to do, so I gave Aubepine a shot. . . And it was a wild success! The only alteration I did for size was to lengthen the sleeves for my monkey-ish arms. To do this, I simply left out the tucks, and it was perfect. Also, I didn't want the tucks in the bodice, so I just used the bodice front lining instead of the bodice front, and that worked out perfectly. The final change I made was that I didn't want the annoyance of a drawstring that would be likely to come undone all day and/or attract cats (I've got two that are wild for string!) and/or come out in the wash and need to be fed back in again, so I used a bit of elastic instead. Oh, and I fully lined the dress, enclosing all seam allowances within the lining, because I think a fully lined dress just hangs better, and because I love a dress that is as beautiful inside as out!

Deer & Doe Aubepine

The fabric is a cotton homespun that I chose in part because I've had plaid on the brain lately, and part because I "didn't care about it" and so wasn't worried if the dress turned out to not be flattering on me, (as I was a bit concerned about this style looking a little maternity-like!) Once the dress was done, not only did I not think it looked maternity-like, but I absolutely fell in love with this fabric/pattern combo!

So, my conclusion about Deer & Doe? WINNING! I already have another Aubepine cut out and partially assembled, and have invested in a small army of the other Deer & Doe designs (Reglisse, Belladone, Sureau, Bluet, and Chardon). I think I have a new favorite pattern line!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another new baby!

So, I went crazy and bought myself a rigid heddle loom! It's a 24" Kromski "Harp." I watched a couple of classes on Craftsy and found myself up and running in no time!

Here is my new loom being warped for the first time:

Warping the Kromski harp loom

By the next morning, I had finished this scarf:

First scarf made on Kromski harp loom

I had a ball making it, and look forward to making all kinds of woven things in the future!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My new baby, and a second Miette skirt!

I am very pleased to announce the arrival of my bundle of joy:

Brother SE400

At 12.4 lbs and 11" tall, this beauty arrived early on 6/7/14.

Yes, I'm a dork! ;)

This is my birthday present from my husband! My birthday isn't actually until the 29th, but I was given it early because I was losing my mind about my buttonhole dilemma you may have previously read about. I started researching possible solutions to my buttonhole problems which didn't involve buying another sewing machine since I have enough of those, and it seemed wasteful to buy a whole machine with the sole purpose of buttonholes! (And also, not having to hand sew them, which I'm willing to do for my historic costumes, but not so much for all these modern things I've been making!) But then, getting any of my existing machines serviced/repaired would cost as much as buying a new machine. Then it dawned on me that if I hunted out a sewing/embroidery combo machine, not only would I be able to make buttonholes, but I'd also be able to embroider all the things, which means it wouldn't feel so wasteful to buy yet another machine.

I researched all kinds of embroidery machines, and finally settled on the Brother SE400. It's affordable and has ridiculously great reviews, and I could even get it on Amazon with free shipping. I put it in my cart so I could think about it, and my sneaky husband went and ordered it for me! *feels loved*

Upon receipt of the machine, the first thing I did was test a buttonhole. . . And, it was a total success!!!

Brother SE400 buttonhole example

I immediately pulled out one of my UFO's that wanted only buttonholes and zipped them off in no time. This is my first really modern, computerized machine, and I never thought I'd say this, but it's amazing! The buttonholes literally make themselves. Put the button in the presser foot, lower the buttonhole guide, choose what style of button you want, and push the green button. Then sip your tea while you watch your buttonhole appear before your eyes! (Though when making a non-test buttonhole, I keep a hand on the fabric just in case it starts to slip. . . But there hasn't been a problem yet!)

Over the weekend, I tried out using it as a general-purpose sewing machine, and made a second Miette skirt:

Miette skirt

This one is in black Twill ("Hampton" Twill by Robert Kaufman). It's 58" wide, and I bought 2 yards, and have plenty left over. Again, I ignored the directions to piece the waistband out of lots of little lengths of fabric, and instead made the waistband all in one piece, and then one piece for each tie. I used my new machine to make a buttonhole to pass the tie end through. (Side note, this is the longest buttonhole my machine is capable of):

Miette skirt buttonhole Brother SE-400

The only thing I find isn't perfect about this new machine is that I don't have total control over the position of the needle (as in, left to right, not up or down). This means I can't get the needle far enough over to easily make 1/4" seams, because the point that would be 1/4" away from the needle is under the presser foot. This is kind of disappointing, especially for a machine that is supposedly able to be used for quilting, and 1/4" is the go-to seam size for quilting. My old Husqvarna Viking breathed a sigh of relief when she heard me whine about that, because now she has a reason to stay! ;)

I haven't tried out the embroidery feature of the machine yet because I didn't realize there were other things I need for that (stabilizer, special thread for machine embroidery) so there has been some ordering and waiting around for supplies to arrive. I have everything I need now, but of course, now I've got a ton of stuff going on and don't have time to mess around with it!

I was shocked at how costly the embroidery thread can be. I guess it's not all that much more than a spool of sewing thread, but I'm used to the less-than-$1 cost of floss for hand embroidery! I went hunting for a cost-efficient option, and read good things about Embroidex, so went with this 48 spool set from Amazon:

Embroidex 48 spool set of machine embroidery thread

I feel like there are plenty of options here for me to play around with! I also have plenty of ideas of things to embroidery. In fact, I'm almost a little fearful that I should have chosen a machine with a larger field for embroidery. This machine has a max of 4" x 4" (which I hear is actually 3.5" x 3.5" since you can't go right up to the edge of the hoop), and I thought it wouldn't be worth it to spend hundreds of dollars more for a couple of extra inches. . . Hope I made the right decision! Also, depending on how much I end up enjoying this machine embroidery thing, there's a distinct possibility I may end up investing in the software that allows you to create your own designs!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Miette Skirt

I have finally caught up to my most recent project: a denim wrap skirt, from the "Miette" pattern by Tilly and the Buttons!

This was a totally unplanned project! My friend Sarah came over for a sewing date, and convinced me on a total whim to make this skirt. I went stash-diving and found some remnants of Kaufman 8 oz denim, and by the next day, I had a new skirt!

I did make a change to the waistband of the pattern, which is to cut it as much in one piece as I could. Instead of leaving an open seam, I'll make a large buttonhole to pass the tie through. This idea is absolutely stolen from Sarah. :) Also, I wanted to note that I needed less than the prescribed yardage, which was 2 1/4 yards. When I first bought my denim, I believe it was 2 1/2 yards. After cutting out a Beignet skirt (and that skirt has a LOT of pieces!) I had enough in remnants for the Miette (in a size 3). Of course, as I said, I got creative with piecing the waistband and ties, and I think I cut the waistband facing crosswise instead of lengthwise. If I buy for another, I'd just buy 2 yards, and that will be more than enough.

I think this might be one of my new favorite patterns! I promptly wore the skirt out to brunch with my husband, and felt so pretty in it that I decided to make more. My next one will be in a lightweight black twill, and then a pink denim one might happen after that, we'll see!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Pink Stripey 1970s Dress

My next sewing adventure involved finally using up some pink stripey seersucker I've had in my stash for a while. I'm not usually a fan of seersucker, but a.) I had it, and b.) I thought it would be a great choice for a dress to kick around at home and sew in during the hotter months of the year. . .

McCall's 5084

I love how this one turned out! It's wonderfully lightweight and comfortable, and also meets my criteria of being flexible in size, because the belt is only sewn on at the middle, and then ties in the back, drawing the dress in to fit whatever size I am at the moment. Perfect!

McCall's 5084

I used McCall's 5084, from 1976. I love 70s dress patterns! They are such fun, and so comfortable to wear. This pattern fit me almost straight out of the envelope, which is a rarity for me! I just needed to make a small adjustment at the back for my narrow back/shoulders. McCall's 5084, finished insides

This is the dress turned inside out! I try to always finish my insides nicely these days, but I took extra time securely finishing every raw edge on this one so that it could get lots of wear and survive many trips through the washer and dryer.

This is definitely a pattern I will make up again! Also, with these last two 1970s dresses going so well, I feel like there may be many more 1970s dresses in my future! ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Plaid Flannel Dress

I've been ever so slowly working to try to lose some weight, and so have been avoiding making things that snugly fit, and keep an eye out instead for things that I can wear both now and after a few pounds are gone. Back in January, I decided to give Simplicity 9834 a try in some plaid flannel:

Simplicity 9834

This fun 1970s pattern really only fits in the yoke area, and then the rest of it is very free-flowing. A perfect candidate for my changing waist size! I gave the dress a bit more length, and decided I'd cut the yoke and pockets on the bias to break up the plaid a bit. Of course, cutting something on the bias means it can totally change the shape and fit of the piece, but I got around this by flat-lining, and cutting that layer on grain. I also fully-lined the entire dress because I like lined things, and because I wanted to be able to wear tights without the flannel sticking to them! I also made a simple tie to belt in the fulness because I thought it would look cuter that way. . .

Simplicity 9834

As you can see, this one is not quite finished yet! I still have to put the pockets on, but more importantly, it needs buttons and buttonholes! And that, readers, is what caused this dress, which otherwise went together really quickly, to sit unfinished to this very day and beyond.

First, it was the buttons. Apparently, it is ridiculously hard to get 5/8" or 3/4" buttons in a not-all-the-way-purple-yet-not-pink-either color! When I couldn't find what I needed at JoAnn's, I turned to Etsy. After several orders, I ended up with all of these:

As you can see, this is kind of a weird color! The buttons at the right were the perfect shade, but only came in the one size, which was much too small. I gave up on finding the right shade of purple, and decided to try some wood buttons, thinking to maybe match the tan color:

I felt like these were just way too bright. I wanted something that blended in a bit more. So, off I went to JoAnn's, with my Granny and Glenn in tow. I was able to find two viable options there:

But this was all they had of each style, and I estimated I needed in the ballpark of 15 buttons. So my amazingly patient and supportive husband took me to not just one, not even two, but three fabric stores, all in one day, on the quest for the perfect buttons! I didn't find the others I'd found at the JoAnn's last time, (not surprising since they were discounted and I suspect perhaps no longer to be carried), but I found these:

These could totally work! But guess what? Each JoAnn's had only one or two cards left. Guess what else? There was major color variation between cards. Argh!

By this point in time, I was about ready to give up all together, when my good friend Sarah stepped in and suggested we try Grey's Fabrics. When I got to the store and pulled out the swatch, Sarah of Grey's first of all recognized it off Instagram (my tale of button whoah had spread far and wide!) and second, knew just what to do, and directed me to these fabulous 5/8" shell buttons:

SUCCESS AT LAST!!!!! She had plenty in stock and they were clearly going to be fabulous! Also, her prices are so much more reasonable than JoAnn's. Grey's all the way!!!

Next up, I procrastinated for a while because I was really quite tired from all the button drama. Just kidding! In reality though, I'd become rather sick of even thinking about it. But at least, I sat down to finish the dress. I grabbed some test fabric to practice my machine buttonholes as it had been a really long time since I'd done a buttonhole by machine. (In historic sewing - which is primarly what I do - buttonholes are done by hand, or not at all because there's a lot of hooks/eyes and closing things with ties as well!)

My Husqvarna Viking utterly failed me. I knew I'd had trouble getting the buttonhole feature working when I first got the machine, but at the time, I figured I must be doing something wrong, because I was being too lazy to read the booklet. This time, I knew I was doing everything correctly because I carefully read the book, as well as watched YouTube videos of similar Viking machines executing buttonholes. If I set the machine to the settings indicated in the manual, I get a buttonhole (HAHAHA NOT REALLY!) like the one shown on the left below. If I turn the dial with the buttonhole image so that it is nowhere near the buttonhole image any more (so in complete contradiction to what the guide tells you to do), I get the one shown in the middle below. At least this one looks like a buttonhole, but it was ridiculously thick and heavy. I hated it! So, I pulled out my old Singer, and gave that one a go. That's the example below on the right. This machine made a nice buttonhole. . . On one side! I know on some machines there's a little screw-type-thing you can turn to balance the buttonhole, but my Singer doesn't appear to have one. I'd probably have to open up the machine to get to it, and that's a bit more than I'm willing to mess with.


My other sewing machine options in the house are all antique and have no buttonhole settings, attachments, or anything like that, and are not really in what I'd call good working order! So we have a bit of a crisis here. Theoretically, I could do them by hand, but in addition to the 15 this dress needs, I also have an unfinished Beignet skirt (so that's another 11 or so), a summery blouse I made ages ago that is done except buttons (I think there are about 7 or 8 on that), a vintage repro shirt I have almost finished for my husband (another half dozen or so there), a pair of doll pajamas (3 more). . . And I feel like I'm forgetting something, and not even taking into consideration my future projects. So, that's a lot of buttonholes! I think I need to somehow get a machine into my life that can do buttonholes. . . Well it is my birthday in a few weeks, after all. . . ;)