November 25, 2014

And I Even Managed A Smile.

Sooo. I made a 1970s pattern. In bright purple plaid. I think it's nice.
elbows
Yeah, not quite as glaring as something with that description could have been.

I basically started writing this post right in the middle of construction details, and then added stuff as I thought of it, so it's very abrupt, but I couldn't think of a way/didn't want to make an effort to rearrange to make it better. So:

It looks to me like the bib is not completely even. I think it actually is, because I measured it extensively (after sewing). I think it's just that there's a bit of stretch/puckering, and the maybe it's also the angle of the plaid. I know that the collar ends overlap each other more than they're supposed to, so the plaid isn't as diagonal as it should be. (I should've trimmed them down when I noticed this, but that didn't occur to me until just now.) Even on the bias, I don't think the pieces would've stretched out that much--they were like two inches off--but obviously something went wrong.

Actually, I think they have to have stretched. (Or, possibly, the fabric was so off grain when I was cutting that I made them too long to begin with.) This is also why there are like four different layers of bias tape on the inside--all the pieces were different lengths. One was significantly shorter than the other three, and at the time I thought I'd cut it too short, but looking back I'm guessing that it's the one that remained the correct length. Eh, hindsight.
bib
(Oops. Oops. Oops. Also--I could've done a better job with my hand stitching, and made it invisible, but I figured it was already ugly, so.)
The other reason there's so much bias tape, and it's not beautifully applied, is that I assumed the collar would finish itself, and all the raw edges would be contained between the upper and under pieces. I dunno why I thought that--oh, except maybe that that's what every single other collar I've sewn has done. I did finish the back of the neck that way (not as directed) and spent ten or fifteen minutes this morning trying to think of a way it could be done for the rest. I think it might be awkward, but not impossible.

Speaking of the back neck, the facing gave me fits. I could not for the life of me figure out how it was supposed to work. I read the directions multiple times, stared at all the diagrams, pinned and sewed (and unpicked) it both ways, moved the pattern pieces and the actual fabric around repeatedly. I spent at least half an hour on it. Nothing seemed right. Eventually I decided it was an inessential piece and just got rid of it. I thought it might make more sense once I had the whole garment assembled (for future reference, I guess), but no. I still don't have any idea what that facing was supposed to do.

Another weird thing is that the upper collar is cut in two pieces, so there's a visible seam along the back. I'm not sure why this was done, except that, I guess, if you were using stripes or an uneven plaid (or anything directional, I guess) they wouldn't match in the front, since the collar is cut on the bias. If I'd thought about this in advance, my fabric would've been fine to cut the collar in one piece. But the seam isn't too obvious, and fortuitously, the plaid lined up really well there (I didn't bother with plaid matching at all, both because of my limited amount of fabric and because the scale was so small I figured it wouldn't matter anyway).
back
(Yeah, clearly I need to iron the back fold out a little more.)
The collar was also supposed to be interfaced, which I did not do because I don't like interfacing and I didn't want a stiff collar anyway. (Also, I only have white, which would've shown through and looked bad.) Maybe the collar would sit a little smoother if I'd interfaced, but I hardly think the omission is the cause of the problem. 

Other notes: I probably should've stabilized the shoulder seams. (Maybe even the armscyes?) The fabric is woven, not knit, but it's pretty drapey. Maybe the bias binding will help? That's the only change I really have, though.

Because, while the collar was kind of a pain to sew, I think that now I've done it once and know what's what, it'll be a lot easier in the future. And the pattern made up for any collar difficulty by everything else being incredibly easy. There are no darts or gathers or, really, any fitting at all. And the sleeves, oh my god, the sleeves. The shoulders are slightly dropped, and the sleeve heads fit into the armscyes completely flat, with no easing. I repeat, no easing. Almost like they were made for each other or something. (Why can't all patterns be like this?) Granted, the sleeves are pretty wide, and I narrowed them. (And I'll probably narrow them a bit more, next time.)

What this means is that it's an incredibly comfortable sweater to wear. I have full range of motion in my arms!
side
I did make a few small pattern changes. For one, I omitted the pockets. (I wouldn't have had enough fabric even if I'd wanted them.) I think they look okay on the dress, but on the top, they're weird. I also tapered the sleeves by about six inches at the cuff, and made them I think two inches longer. The pattern has fold-back cuffs that are cut in the same piece with the regular sleeve; without those, I would've had to add a lot more length. I've mentioned this before, but I don't really care for three-quarter length sleeves. If they come below my elbow, they better also come below my wrists. Some people would probably think I've made these sleeves a bit too long, but they're right where I like them.

As is the hem. I knew I wanted my top to be shorter on me than the one in the pattern illustration, which is almost tunic length. Normally I add a couple inches to patterns to accommodate my height; in this case, I decided that if I cut out the pattern unaltered, it would wind up being my desired length. I did move the waist curve down a couple inches, but it's such a slight curve to begin with that this probably made very little difference. Anyway, though, the length is pretty much exactly right.

I didn't mess with the width at all. I thought about taking in the hips slightly, since the tunic in the illustration looks rather flared, but then I remembered that I often make garments too tight in the hips inadvertently. (And I was already making a 1970s size 8, which is meant for a woman with 33 1/2" hips. I do not have 33 1/2" hips. The pattern does also give the finished hem measurement (which is 43 1/2") and I don't have 43 1/2" hips, either, so I could've taken some off, but I decided I'd rather have a similar amount of ease at the waist and hips, rather than looking like I was wearing something with an elastic band at the bottom.) Now, I could've taken the hips in a couple inches and been fine, but I also think the width is fine as is. The bust fits well, too, and while there's plenty of room around the waist, obviously it's meant to be that way. I'm really pleased with how well the fabric drapes, and I think it was a good choice with this pattern, because even though I'm basically wearing an unfitted box, it does manage to still have some shape.
pattern
So, yeah, I'm pretty pleased with this pattern, and pretty confident that I'll make it again. The resulting sweater, despite combining bright purple plaid with a 70s pattern (which has a lot of disastrous potential) is exactly the kind of thing I want to wear all the time right now. (I do not, however, want to wear it with a turtleneck under (or with that big of hair), as the illustrations do. Sorry, guys.) I don't think it's too loud, or looks too dated.

In fact, I think it looks fairly similar to the Finlayson sweater from Thread Theory (although I'm pretty sure Finlayson has a smaller collar--it's narrower and the bib is further up). The main difference, I think, is that my pattern, Butterick 4437, is for wovens. And for women. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, but other than a few women who've made the Finlayson for themselves, I don't think I've seen any contemporary women's patterns that even resemble this. (So maybe that means this style is a bit dated? Whatever, I'm wearing it anyway.)

The fabric I used--one of the only thrifted fabrics I have that came with a label--is Lowell wool. I don't know anything else about it, like when it was made (I don't think there are still working mills in Lowell, but I also don't know if "Lowell wool" necessarily means it was made there, or if it's more of a descriptor for a brand or fabric type) or its exact fiber content. It's thin (held up to the light I can see through) and not scratchy, very drapey (I had a hard time getting it on grain; in fact, I'm sure it's not entirely on grain, especially horizontally), loosely woven, and the black fibers generally tend to be thicker and curlier than the purple.
fabric cu
Quite possibly I should have lined it (and I actually have a decent purple lining for it, because this was not the original plan for the fabric; instead, it was going to be a circle skirt, but eventually I decided that, oddly enough, I would wear a sewn sweater in this fabric way more than a skirt. With a skirt, I'd feel compelled to wear a matching top, and I don't wear black, and that much purple all at once might be too much for me. A sweater feels more versatile). But, while I wouldn't exactly call the fabric soft or smooth, it is soft enough and smooth enough that I could comfortably wear it against bare skin. Ninety-nine percent of the time I'll probably have at least a tank top, and quite possibly also something else with long sleeves on under it (just no turtlenecks) so that isn't really relevant, but it's nice that I won't have to worry about what to wear underneath so that it doesn't touch my skin. It's also nice that it's roomy enough that I'll be able to wear other things underneath.
insides
I finished all the raw edges with self-made bias tape. It's polyester. I wish it wasn't, but I've been trying to get rid of the last of this fabric forever (this is the fourth thing I've made from it) and it was a really good color match. (Nothing else I had came close.) I guess I must have thought this would be faster/easier than French seams, but about eighty percent of the way through I realized I was actually sewing every seam five times, versus the usual two. (Pressing, I think, was about the same.) Aside from the mess with the bib, it does look nice, though. And hopefully the edges will stay secure. This fabric is really ravelly.

I tried to handle all the pieces as little as possible, to prevent both stretching and ravel. Re stretching, see above. Re ravel, well, it wasn't too bad, but I had to do a lot of trimming. I sewed everything at 5/8", but those edges are not 5/8" now. I remember thinking at one point that maybe this wasn't the best fabric to use for a garment that I hope to wear fairly frequently. (I see it as slightly more like outerwear in that respect.) I mean, I'm going to be folding it up to carry, and moving around in it a lot, and maybe sometimes even pushing up the sleeves, not storing it in a vacuum. We'll see how it in fact holds up. Right now, my hopes are high.
front
But it'll also be interesting to see how this pattern turns out made in an entirely different, more stable, fabric. The recommended ones--and plain old wool isn't actually one of them--are "soft or crisp fabrics such as poplin, pinwale corduroy, flannelette, gabardine, flannel and synthetic suede." Two of those I think clearly date pattern to its original decade. (I mean, can you imagine this made up in synthetic suede?) Poplin I guess would be okay if you were making the dress. Flannel and flannelette are both very compelling to me, but I'm also interested in what this might turn out like in something like fleece. (Or even a stable knit, like what's used for the Finlayson. I see no reason it wouldn't work.) Even more outerwear-like, probably, but nothing wrong with that.

I also thought I might experiment with making the bib square instead of rounded. (That might help with thinking it's crooked.) I also think I'd like the collar to be even a bit bigger. I haven't done, or even been very interested in, oversize collars in a while, but I guess when they're on outerwear instead of a blouse, it's okay. I feel kind of like my collar isn't as big as the ones in the illustration, so maybe that's why I want it. (It definitely doesn't seem as deep as theirs, but then, they're also stylized. The bottom of the bib comes to the same place re the sleeves and my bust point as it does on them.)
And I briefly considered attempting to make the collar into a hood. Then I looked at a couple hooded Finlaysons and decided I didn't really want a hood after all. I rarely wear hoods. I also realized that a straight collar variation would make this even more like the Finlayson. And, looking at the sew-along instructions, I think I may have figured out how to enclose the raw collar edges. (Note: it is not exactly what is directed. But it's only a small modification. And easier that way, I think, than what I'd end up with, fiddling with this.)

I have another piece of fabric, also a two-color plaid wool blend, that I wanted to use for another of these (if I liked the first one enough), but it's actually a scrap, and when I laid it out, I didn't even have to place any of the pattern pieces to know it wouldn't be big enough. I have a lot of leftover white fleece that I'm trying to get rid of, so I might mess with that (I'd never wear a white fleece pullover outside, unless maybe it was underneath several other layers, but it could be a house sweater), but other than that, I don't think I have anything else in my stash that'll work. I'm going to have to try very hard the rest of the winter not to buy a bunch of plaid flannel and wool. Or maybe I'll just buy a bunch and make like ten of these. I do need warm clothes, yeah?
gratuitous mirror shot
(I'm not sure what's up with all the different colors showing, but I think that this, oddly, is the most accurate representation.)
Also, finally: Vintage Pattern Pledge! This is only my second one for the year and I think I said I'd sew five vintage patterns that I hadn't made before, so I'm probably not going to get done. That's at least in part because the majority of my vintage patterns are for dresses (I bought this one for the dress; I remember I thought the tunic was kind of weird and ugly) and I don't really wear dresses much anymore. (I was going to use a vintage pattern to make a dress for Thanksgiving, but after having it sitting out for like three weeks and doing nothing, I decided I was clearly uninterested, so now I'm going to wear this sweater on Thursday instead.) But, eh, two out of five is better than nothing.

Project details:
Fabric: 1 2/3 yards at 60" plaid wool, from Scrap, purchased July 2013, $3.00. (I actually couldn't remember when I bought this or how much it cost. $3.00 was a lot less than I expected.)
Pattern: Butterick 4437, from Scrap, purchased June 2013, $0.50
Year: 1970s
Notions: self-made bias tape, a lot of it, using scraps from stash. nothing else.
Made before: nope
Make again: very likely
Sewing soundtrack: nope
First worn: just for pictures
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $3.50

November 15, 2014

Shop My Closet (Kind Of).

I forgot how much I hate creating Etsy listings, so I only wound up listing about half of what I'd originally planned to. And no garments. I feel like descriptions for things that are made, rather than supplies, need to be much more detailed and precise. I actually measured everything months ago, but I dunno. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

However, if you'd be interested in taking any of these me-mades off my hands, shoot me an email (bringmesummer . email @ gmail . com), and we'll set something up. (And feel free to email me if you want more info about any of these, too.) I don't actually expect any of these to sell, but, eh, I did take pictures and do all that measuring (all in inches), so...

Bust: 34
Waist: 27
Back length: 21
Hem width: 33.5
Sleeve length from top: 6.5
Edge finishes: French seams and bias binding
More here
Bust: 37
Waist: 40
Back length: 31
Hem width: 44
Sleeve length from top: 25
Edge finishes: raw (it's knit, so no ravelling)
More here
Bust: 34
Waist: 27
Hip: free
Back length to waist: 18
Skirt length: 25
Hem width: 82
Sleeve length from top: 13.5
Belt (not pictured): 34, no prong
Edge finishes: French seams, bound edges, selvedges
More here
Bust: 34
Waist: 27
Hip: free
Back length to waist: 16.5
Skirt length: 19
Hem width: 84
Belt: 25, closes with hook and eye
Edge finishes: zig-zagged (skirt) and French seams (bodice)
More here
This goes with the multi-colored sundress pictured above, and was made to fit its length (but could also be worn separately).
Waist: 34 (elastic, unstretched)
Skirt length: 18
Edge finishes: French seams (woven fabric) and raw edges (net)
Bust: 38
Waist: 30
Back length: 22.5
Hem width: 36
Edge finishes: French seams
More here
Bust:  34
Waist: 33
Back length: 25.5
Hem width: 38
Sleeve length from top: 25.5
Edge finishes: French seams
Waist: 25
Hip: 35
Skirt length: 27
Hem width: 40
Edge finishes: zig-zagged
More here
Bust: 30
Waist: 26
Back length: 6.5
Hem width: 26
Edge finishes: fully lined
More here
Waist: 24
Hip: 36
Inseam: 2.25
Edge finishes: pinked

Finally--this one isn't me-made (though I did do some work on it), but I figured I might as well include it here. 
Waist: 35 (elastic, unstretched)
Skirt length: 25








So what is in the shop? A lot of sewing patterns, some fabric, a bunch of belt buckles (including several covered buckle kits), a couple sets of buttons, and some weird sewing tools. Almost all of it's vintage. Here are a couple of my favorites. And yes, they are favorites--I bought all these things originally because I liked them.
 I listed (and acquired) these separately, but I think they'd look cool together. (buttons)
 And I really love all of these colors; the fabric is a great weight, too. I just decided that the leaves were slightly too huge/bold for me. (fabric)
This one I bought because it's (still) the only pattern I've ever seen with a pink label. I actually made up the shorts version (for my sister)--see it here. (McCall's 2287)

As I said in my last post, my aim with all of this is not to make money but to get rid of stuff. (I'll hang onto the leftover clothes for a little longer, and possibly see if I can sell them to a thrift shop locally, but ultimately, the items I didn't wind up listing will be donated, not kept). And I'm also open to haggling--send me an email or Etsy convo.

So yeah. Please help me out here. I really want my stash to be more manageable (and more reflective of the sewing I want and am likely to do) and less embarrassing. To encourage that end, I've tried to price things to move, and here are a couple coupon codes, too:
for $2 off a $10 purchase -- 2OFF10
for $5 off a $20 purchase -- 5OFF20
for $10 off a $40 purchase -- 10OFF40

I thought about waiting and doing a Black Friday sale, to, you know, fit in, but I think Black Friday and Cyber Monday are unhealthy (for one), so instead the discount is valid now through November 21. That'll give you a week to get your shopping on, and then some time to breathe before the post-Thanksgiving frenzy begins.

Finally--here's a direct link to my Etsy shop: Gladys and Viv on Etsy

Okay good that's done. Now back to sewing.

November 13, 2014

A Lovely Girl, Just Not For Me.

Last winter, my aunt gave me this fabric (from her stash, not an actual present) and I made two, eh, problem garments out of it. I did chop up the first garment to make the second one--though I don't know if that makes it better or worse.
fav

Since the first garment I made no longer exists, and I never wore it out of the apartment, I won't say much about it. As you may or may not know, I live in Portland, the same city as Colette Patterns, so I've done a little bit of test sewing for them. This was my test version* of Dahlia. Yeah, it looks a bit off--because, due to some miscommunications, I received a pattern, and so sewed up a dress, without added seam allowances. I'm slightly off the low end of the Colette size chart, so the bodice actually fit pretty well (width-wise; it was way too short and I had to make considerably longer straps to compensate) but I had to chop several inches off the skirt to make it big enough to fit the waist yoke. Which made for a really short skirt on me.
dahlia
I feel like I can't really review the pattern because of the changes I had to make and because obviously, you'd get a completely different thing if you sewed this with seam allowances. (And I'm pretty darn sure the pattern that was released has seam allowances.) I thought about making a second version just for that purpose, but I knew even before I started sewing the first that the sleeveless version of Dahlia wasn't really my style. (I like more shoulder coverage and a higher neckline.) If I do make it again, I'll be tempted to cut two bodice backs and use one of those instead of the front (because, yes, I tried it on backwards at some point and liked it way better that way).
back to front
(Worn back to front. So much better, see?)
I do really like the raglan sleeved Dahlia version, though, and am considering making something similar for my Thanksgiving dress.

So, yes, technically I could have worn the dress. But it was a bit more revealing than I was comfortable with--shorter and tighter and lower-cut--and I knew I never would. So I put it away for a while, until I got around to doing something else. Then, last week, I pulled it out, along with the yard and a half of fabric I still had left, and cut out a second version of Butterick B4985 (made previously here).
both
(Quite a few changes between attempts 1 and 2. I'm still not totally sure which one fits better. Okay, the second one does, but the first, I think, looks better on.)
I made a number of smallish fitting changes to the pattern since last time, and I think the fit is pretty good (although I over-corrected the top bodice, which is now slightly too short). I interfaced the collar, stand, and front facings, and was very precise cutting and sewing it in (yeah, I have sew-in interfacing for some reason), and I think that helps with the fit a lot. And the collar, I think, looks pretty near perfect. Unfortunately, I think I'd like the blouse better with just a Mandarin collar instead of a full one. Since it has a stand, I could make that change without too much effort, but I don't really like the rest of the blouse enough to want to bother.
collar
Honestly, I'm not sure why--why I don't like it, that is. I do think it's pretty. But it's just not me. Maybe it feels too cutesy; I dunno. (I do know that I think the fabric was better suited in its first incarnation, as the sundress.)
inside
(I mean, I like it better inside-out. That's not a good sign. Also, you can see a tiny bit of the gusset under the left armhole here. I used chambray for the facings and armhole finishing because that was all the flowered fabric I had. But I wish now I'd made the whole thing from chambray.)
The print's too busy to show the seaming details, and either because of the print, or the bodice fit still being slightly off, or maybe it's just the pattern, I also think this top makes my bust look smaller than it actually is. Not that that's a problem necessarily; I was just kind of surprised because that's the opposite of what I was expecting based on this silhouette.
angle
(See, no chest. And no, it is not just at this angle.)
I also did a really bad job setting in the sleeves. (By that point, I didn't care.) Again, the print's so busy you can't see the puckers, but they're there. And there's a bit of pulling in some places where there probably shouldn't be. I actually went back after I (thought I) was completely done and put in gussets (in order to actually be able to move my arms), and they do help, but still. I'm wondering if the problem is related to the fact that I used the sleeve from a different pattern (because the ones that come with B4985 are super puffy) and the curves just don't match, or if this is just how woven set-in sleeves generally fit. (And that's another reason why, lately, I'm feeling drawn toward the raglan-sleeved Dahlia.)

The fit isn't off enough that I won't still wear this (and certainly it's better than the first version) but it's not what I was hoping for. I'll wear it mostly because I mean, I need things still to wear to work. And this is appropriate. Maybe I'm a bit cold on it because it seems too summery with the little flowers. To be fair to me, I did make it largely with the intent of wearing it under this sweater. That looks pretty decent in the picture, but in reality didn't work out so well. Don't worry, though; I have five other blue sweaters I can try pairing it with until the weather warms up again.
sweater
I'm not sure if I'll make this pattern for a third time. On the on hand, I really liked the first version I made, and the bodice fit should be pretty spot-on now. On the other hand, the sleeves still need work, and this version, visually, was really disappointing, and has left me questioning how much I even like the silhouette. So... I dunno.
front

.
Oh also! Given the post title, this also seems like a good place to point out that lately, I've been making a pretty serious effort to decrease the size of my sewing stash. Right now, I've got a number of sewing patterns and some nice pieces of fabric listed in my Etsy shop; later this afternoon and tomorrow, I'll be adding some me-made garments that I no longer wear (plus a little vintage RTW) and miscellaneous sewing notions, including several covered belt and buckle kits. I'll try to do a sort of "feature" post here on the blog, then, once everything's gone up.

ETA 11/15/14: Everything that's going to be listed is listed. No clothing, but I did a "shop my closet" post here. Technically, everything on Etsy should also count as shopping my closet, too, since that's where I keep all my sewing stuff. Anyway. Go check things out.

While it'd be nice to recoup some of my initial costs, I'm far more interested right now in getting rid of these things than in turning a profit. So I'm including a couple discounts--$2 off a $10 purchase, $5 off a $20 purchase, and $10 off a $40 purchase. There's a different code for each one, but they're pretty straightforward: 2OFF10, 5OFF20, 10OFF40. I think I've priced things pretty fairly--and there's the discount, too--but the prices are by no means set in stone. If there's something you love but you can't quite justify the asking price, please just email or convo me. I'd much rather lose a few dollars (off of what's probably a fairly arbitrary price anyways) if it means I can get the item out of my closet and pass it on to someone who'll use it. Seriously, guys. I just want this stuff gone.

Okay project details:

Project details: #1 (dress)
Fabric: about 1 1/2 yards navy blue and white flowered poplin (possibly a poly-cotton blend) from aunt J's stash, free
Pattern: Colette Dahlia, test version so free
Year: 2014
Notions: 16" invisible zipper (from stash) $0.65
Made before: no
Make again: initially, I was going to, with some variations in mind, but now I'm thinking probably no
Sewing soundtrack: Lana Del Rey (I know, I know.)
First worn: not yet
Wear again: nope; can't
Total cost: $0.65 

Project details: #2 (blouse)
Fabric: remaining 1 1/2 yards navy blue and white flowered poplin(?) plus cut-up Dahlia, from aunt J's stash, acquired December 2014, free; chambray scraps from stash
Pattern: Butterick B4985 from Knittn' Kitten, used before so free
Year: 2007
Notions: six vintage Czech glass buttons from Knittn' Kitten, $1.85
Made before: once, here
Make again: maybe?
Sewing soundtrack: Frightened Rabbit (just Pedestrian Verse. I must have listened to Pedestrian Verse like ten times.)
First worn: to work Sunday
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $1.85


*Disclaimer: I was given a draft copy of version 2 of the Dahlia pattern, and compensated monetarily for my supplies and the time I spent testing. I was not required or even asked to review the pattern or in any way publicize my project. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

October 11, 2014

Where I'm Anymore.

So, I'll say it.

September was a rough month for me. A lot going on, that I won't get into here. And Gladys died. My great-grandmother.

Even if you know nothing else about it, the fact that I named my blog after her should tell you at least a little about how I feel.

It wasn't like it was a big surprise. She was ninety-nine years old (I'm allowed to say that now), and her health had been failing. But a loss is still a loss. She was one of my favorite people in the world.

For the past few weeks I've wavered on whether to write about this at all. Eventually I decided that, well, the blog is named, at least in part, after her, so it's probably something I should mention. But that--what I've already written--is all I really plan to write. This isn't a personal blog, and it probably won't ever be. Don't get me wrong, I love that there are people like, say, Tempest, who's written very frankly and openly about her mental/emotional state, or Roisin, who starts every new dress post by spending a couple of paragraphs telling us what her week was like. But in the past several years, every time I myself have written a blog post that feels more than a little bit personal, I wind up just saving it as a draft (or even deleting it) and writing a new one. Emotionally, I'm not a big sharer. To be honest, I'm not even much of a shower. So that's that.

Anyway. I haven't felt like doing much of anything for a while, and I know that that's probably attributable far more to the changing seasons (I have seasonal affective disorder pretty bad) than to my great-grandmother's death or even any of the events related to/surrounding it. My sewing has been way down, but I do actually have a finished project to show you.
cannot see
It's my green sweater oh my god! I finished it!

(Side note: Gladys was a big-time crocheter--mostly afghans, not many sweaters, but it still feels kind of fitting that I have this now.)
side
I actually finished crocheting it almost two weeks ago (and took not a single in-progress picture), which means that really, the construction took me only a couple weeks. But then I waited a while to do the blocking, and then it took three days to dry (and this was in pretty arid weather; I'm worried now about what blocking will be like in the rain), and then I waited a while longer, too, before putting the buttons on. I just didn't feel like it, I guess--or, more likely, I didn't feel like taking photos, and knew that once the buttons were attached, the sweater would be completely done and there'd be no reason left not to. I finally did both those things--buttons and photos--last night, though.

I'm super pleased with how this turned out. I used the Cinnabar pattern by Doris Chan. It's from a book, Everyday Crochet, which has (in my opinion) a really unflattering/off-putting cover, but some of the other patterns are nice. Obviously I liked this one.
pattern cu
It's crocheted in the round from the top down, and it's a pretty basic repeated pattern. On the third row from the top, you have to tie off and start again with new chain stitches, and that's so early to be tying off that I totally missed that direction (several times) and wound up re-doing several rows three or four times before I finally went on Ravelry and found an old Cinnabar crochet-along forum thread to see if I was actually making some weird button loop that wouldn't look right until after I'd added the binding or something, and someone had said, "well, you did tie off at the end of the row and start again, didn't you?" and I went back and read the directions yet again and was like, "ugh, sara, you idiot," because there it was. But other than that, it was really straightforward to make and it came out really nice.

Once I'd gotten through the yoke, I finished the sleeves all the way before continuing on the body, the opposite of what the directions suggest. I knew I'd just barely have enough yarn, and I like my sleeves long--I decided it was more important to me that the sleeves be long enough, even if that meant that the bodice wound up having to be a bit cropped. (Also, there are only four rows, instead of the directed five, on my button bands. Not enough yarn.)
leftover yarn
(Right. That is how much yarn I had left when I finished. I measured it: exactly 36 inches.)
As it turned out, the bodice is what I consider full-length. I wouldn't mind if it were an inch or two longer, but I'll have no problem wearing it with low-waisted garments. Another change I made was to put buttons along the whole length of the front (as opposed to just one set in the middle). They're pretty low-profile, so I can easily wear the cardigan unbuttoned, too, without them drawing attention or clunking around or anything. And they're small enough that I didn't make buttonholes on the opposite side; I just shove them through the spaces the stitching had already made in the band. Maybe not the most secure thing, but for me it works.

The only thing I might change is adding a little width at the bottom to accommodate my disproportionately wide hips, because it doesn't quite close evenly at the bottom. It's still plenty wearable, though. I guess I might also make a future version a size or so bigger, because, while I really like the fit of this one, it's so closely-fitted that I suspect I won't be able to wear certain of my shirts with it; they'll be too bulky. However, I do still have a number of shirts that will work.
buttoned
(Fortunately I do this weird menswear thing where I almost never button the bottom button of my cardigans. So the hips not being quite wide enough is much less of a problem than it could be.)
I'm looking forward to wearing this. Even though it's openwork, because it's 100% wool (vintage Dutch wool, no less) it's still quite warm, which is nice. (I had worried about wearability. The point of a sweater, to me, is warmth. Sweater-vests I understand, too, but I'm so confused as to why I made a sleeveless sweater earlier this year. Just--why? I haven't worn it since the day the pictures were taken.) I won't wear this all the time, like I do some of my other cardigans, because it strikes me as more of a special garment than an everyday sweater. (I don't mean special as in for special occasions only, just that it seems a bit too nice to wear ten days in a row like a jacket.) Maybe when I've made more cardigans--I've already started on the next one--that assessment will change, but for now, it feels special and nice and I'm pretty proud of it.
faking it
If anyone's interested, my Ravelry notes (which are mostly about where I added rows to increase length), and a few more photos, are here.

And here are project details:
Fabric Yarn: 8 skeins (~800 yards) Scheepjes Superwash Zermatt, from Knittn' Kitten, purchased September 2013/January 2014, $24.25
Pattern: Cinnabar, from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan, borrowed from the library so free
Year: 2007
Notions: seven half-inch buttons, from Knittn' Kitten, $0.60
Made before: no
Make again: possibly
Sewing soundtrack: eh, this took several weeks, so probably a bunch of stuff
First worn: not yet
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $24.85

September 22, 2014

Summer Sewing: Month Three/End of Season Check-In

So, I started out strong, and then my sewing just... stopped. I had this one project that I wanted to do. I got out the pattern, traced it off and made size adjustments, had the fabric ready, and then it all just sat there for, like, two weeks. For whatever reason, I couldn't get myself to do it. And I didn't work on anything else either. Eventually I put that project away again so I could get on with other things. Maybe next summer.

All in all, from August 21 to September 21, I:
  • sewed one additional sleeveless, yokeless Carme (that makes four), a pair of pyjama pants, a new cover for my bike seat (all unblogged) and a messenger bag (blogged here)
  • finally started on, and have now got around halfway through(!) my crocheted cardigan
  • and, uh, I guess that's it. 
For fabric usage, I:
  • used up one whole piece of stash fabric, and parts of two other (very large) ones
  • bought two pieces of thrifted fabric, one yard and three yards
  • and have used up the one-yard piece already (the three-yard piece is earmarked for a Bruyère (the newest Deer and Doe pattern), which I should have in a couple days)
As far as meeting my goals, well, I did do the new messenger bag. I also desperately needed to replace the bike seat cover, so I'll count that as a very solid make, too. And I finally started on my sweater. I'm super pleased about that. I know there are only eight days left in the month, but I think it's not inconceivable that I could be done by the first of October. Mid-October (my original goal, I think)--definitely.

And I did also trace patterns off a couple ready-to-wear garments, though I've not done anything with them yet.

I did not make any of the skirts I planned to. I think that's in large part because I didn't wear dresses often, and skirts almost never, this summer--certainly less than in the past. I kind of expected that to happen (less wear, not not sewing), but it still wound up being more extreme than I'd expected. I know that I didn't wear skirts often because I didn't have the right tops to go with them, so it isn't wholly rational to not make more because of that, but it does make sense that if I observe I'm wearing a lot less of something that I still do possess, I shouldn't sew a bunch more of it. I do still think that my particular skirt fabric will get made into skirts at some point (if only because I don't have any idea what else to do with it); I just don't know when that'll be.

Same is true of the T-shirts to tank tops: I haven't worn any of them very much, so I also haven't made any more. 

I also didn't sew anything from a vintage pattern. So I have just over three months now to complete my pledge.

As for the summer overall, I think I did fairly well. I did buy some fabric, but I used more stash than what I added. I sewed a bunch of shirts (mostly all from the same pattern, but whatever) and although I won't wear them all to work, some I will, and having them all has definitely helped. And I now have a few shirt patterns worked out to the point that they fit me properly, without the need for future alterations. I got my Skirt Fixation challenge done in time (and even took pictures outside for it).

I didn't make any skirts or dresses, but that's okay. I also didn't ever put any of my unworn me-mades up for sale (oops) (but I did at least sort them out and take photos and measure them).

I think that's about all that I stated explicitly in my original planning post, so on the whole, I'm going to call it a good show. And now on to fall sewing... I'm actually very excited about this for once (usually in the past I've only wanted to make sundresses). I think the more people I've seen talking/writing about fall sewing plans, and even some already posting early fall makes, the more interested it's become to me. I also spent several hours over the past few weeks on Ravelry, and have favorited, I don't know, maybe three hundred sweaters. (Realistically, probably more like thirty. But still a lot.)

Around the beginning of September, I think, Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones The Creative Perfectionist announced the Fall Essentials Sew-Along, and I got real excited for a bit, but ultimately decided not to let myself think about fall sewing (much less, actually perform any fall sewing) until it was actually fall. September 22, it is now actual fall, but since this is still my summer post, I think I'll leave fall plans out of it and do those as a separate entry. Also because my plans are not fully formed yet. Stay tuned.

September 12, 2014

Practicality.

So I finally did it--something I've been meaning to do for more than a year, maybe more than two years: I replaced my messenger bag.
on
The old one, as you can see, was hideous. I've had it since 2008, although I don't think I used it much at first. For the past three or so years, though, at least, it's been my regular bag, and for something as lightweight as this, that's a lot of use. It's actually in better condition in the photos here than it was; I sewed up a number of good-sized holes along the edges several months ago (although I did this only after one too many times of getting to work or home from work, opening the bag, and having the "where's my [small-to-medium-sized object]? I swear I put it in. Damn it, it must have fallen through one of the holes again" moment).
 orig damage
To be honest, aside from where you can see the top support poking completely through the fabric, the outside photos look pretty decent. But it's really the inside that was most messed up: the lining is so torn up, and continuing to disintegrate, that every time I took something out of there, it had little pieces of black plastic stuck to it. And the bag itself didn't hold its shape anymore. So.

It was long past time for a new one.

I didn't use a pattern. I didn't want a complicated project--this really only took me an hour or two--and I liked the shape of my old bag, so I just measured the various rectangles and copied it. Then I cannibalized the top and bottom supports and the shoulder strap to reuse in the new bag. (The original bag has a little briefcase-style hand carrier, too, that you can't really see in the photos, but I left it off the new bag because I never used it.)
both
I did make the patch pocket wider, and sectioned off an inch and a half or so at one edge to put my fork and spoon in, so I don't have to rummage through everything (because they always end up on the bottom) when I want to eat my lunch. And I used two buckles and straps for the flap closure, rather than Velcro. I think that'll give me more room for adjustment, while still keeping the flap down securely. (And I won't have to worry about it ever snagging my tights.)

Speaking of the buckles, they're actually reused from old bike helmets. They're a bit smaller than what I initially had in mind, but I wanted two that matched and that's what I found. And they do get the job done.
inside
The fabric isn't exactly what I was going for, either. I have in my stash some quantity of thick white canvas, acquired for reasons now unknown. I've been trying to use it up over the last few years, but it's slow going. Anyway, I figured it would work for a bag (the old one is canvas, too, albeit with the weird plastic-y lining). Obviously I didn't want a white messenger bag; it would already be unspeakably soiled by now. So I dyed it. I cut the fabric first, because I didn't want to dye all of it, and because I figured with less fabric, the dye would sink in and be darker. I was hoping to get black, or at least a dark grey. I wound up with a light grey (with a hint of purple), which is about what I should have expected using pearl grey dye (it was what I had on hand). (I should have expected the purple, too, because almost everything I've ever died has gone a bit purple.) At first I was worried it might be too light and look weird with the black straps, but now I think it's fine. I used black thread instead of grey to tie things in better, too.
hanging clean
Being plain canvas, the bag isn't at all waterproof, and in Portland, that may be a problem. In light rain, it'll probably be okay, and I have a decent-sized drysack that I can toss inside and use for some stuff, but it's possible this may wind up being a summer-only bag, and I'll have to figure something else out for the rest of the year. For now, though, the rain hasn't started yet, so I'm happy. We'll see what happens.

Project details:
Fabric: White canvas (dyed) from stash, so old I can't remember and am saying free
Pattern: Measured off existing bag
Year: n/a
Notions: Shoulder strap and supports cannibalized from existing bag so free; two buckles and strapping from SCRAP, $1.00; one package Rit dye, probably $1.80 when I bought it
Made before: no
Make again: in the foreseeable future, no, but I guess if/when this one wears out, I might
Sewing soundtrack: ?
First worn used: not sure exactly, but I've been using it regularly for a few weeks now
Wear use again: oh yes.
Total cost: $2.80

September 1, 2014

This Is My Playsuit / I Don't Do Playsuits.

I first made this three summers ago. Based on the very poor job I did, I would've guessed it was longer ago than that, but there's a picture of my younger sister wearing it while holding our newborn cousin, and that cousin just turned three, and I remember I finished sewing the romper like five minutes before we left to meet her. (And finished the belt in the car.)

Originally I made it for myself, but it was way to short in the torso, so I gave it to Rat, who's slightly shorter but with similar horizontal measurements, but it didn't really fit her any better. Since it was a romper, she loved it anyway and I let her keep it, but then a while later, when I was visiting, I decided it was too awful and went and took it back. For "repairs" or to replace, I don't know. (I have since then made at least two other rompers for her.
romper orig
(Yeah, I can get it on me, but it's really unpleasant to do. I think you could probably tell that without my saying, though, just from looking at all the places it pulls.)
I don't remember now why I was so determined to make this fabric into a romper, especially with how little I had. I think there was one yard. And I really like the fabric print, so I do wish I'd saved it for something else. (That seems to happen a lot.) Now I'm kind of impressed that I squeezed this out of that... except that, oh, it didn't actually work because unwearable. I even added a (horribly, horribly, horribly done) white waistband in between the bodice and shorts to lengthen it, and it probably is only because of the waistband that I could get the garment on at all, but it was still incredibly uncomfortable.
waistband
(Seriously. Atrocious. Even with the belt keeping it covered, I don't know what I was thinking to decide this was acceptable.)
I'd been meaning to do something about this for quite a while. There was the possibility of replacing the waistband with a longer one, because neither the shorts nor the bodice seemed to fit that badly on their own (the only problem was inadequate length) but the waistband would've needed to be probably four to six inches longer to work. And that would've made it quite obvious. The original waistband was narrow enough to be covered by the belt (which is probably why I made it that size and not longer) so it was okay that it didn't match the rest of the fabric. But a solid swath of plain white in the middle of the romper? Eh, not cool. Also, three years ago, I really wanted a romper. Now, well I guess if I had a romper that fit me, I'd wear it, but I'm not as excited. I don't know if I would feel really comfortable wearing a romper. It isn't who I am any more.

So. Eventually I decided the best course of action would be to just toss the waistband and make separates. Although when I say make... all I really did was remove the waistband, finish the newly raw edges, and reapply the closures. The rest was already sewn and I didn't mess at all with it, top or bottom.
two-piece
(Eh, no. (So flattering, this is, by the way.))
I wasn't really sure what to do with the top. I'd need a separating zipper to close it, or else some other kind of closure, and there wasn't enough fabric for the sides to overlap. So, first I was going to do buttons with loops. Then I thought, nah, I'll put loops along both sides, and lace it up in between them. And then finally I thought, no, that will take too much work, and I'm never going to wear this anyway. I'll just use some of that massive stash of eyelets. So the bodice back has ten eyelets and laces shut.
back
(Sorry, it's a crap picture, I know, but I didn't get any close-ups of the back, and I didn't want to go through the rigmarole of putting it on again.)
Obviously this is the kind of thing that's much easier to put on and take off if you have a maid who dresses you. This is, in fact, only another reason why I won't wear it. The real reason I will never wear it is that it bares the midriff, and I cannot think of any scenario (including lounging on a beach or poolside, which I never do anyway) in which I might wear a top that bares the midriff. Really. I'll wear a bathing suit about once a year, and I'm fine with that--I have no issues with my midriff--I just hate having skin showing between what I'm wearing on top and what I'm wearing on the bottom. Holdover from growing up as the super tall girl whose clothes never ever fit, I'm sure.

Anyway, the shorts are a bit better. I stuck in a purple nylon zipper because it was the right length (and I wanted to save the original long white one for when I actually need a long white zipper). I was figuring that I'd never wear the shorts out, either, so it wouldn't really matter. (This is also why the zipper application is not my best.)
zipper
(This is the original zipper that went through the whole romper. I was a bit sad to have to take it out--I'd hand-picked it, and did a really nice job.)
But then I kept trying the shorts on, and then I wore them around the apartment for a while taking photos, and they're actually really comfortable. They're fully-lined, everything is French seamed, and they have pockets. And they fit my crotch, and the inseam is long enough that I don't feel self-conscious, and the legs are narrow enough that I bet the won't even gap when biking. So maybe I will wear them out from time to time, for very casual outings. Like groceries.

Obviously not with the matching top, but this isn't so bad.
shorts
Actually, this isn't even probably the best top I have for it, either; it was just the first thing I found that had an acceptably similar color in it. But the shorts do look decent with a normal top, don't they? I think they'd be acceptable for public use. At least I hope they do, because I wore them out to the market whatever day that photo was taken.

I honestly wasn't expecting to get anything useable out of the romper, no matter what I did with it, so I'm pretty happy. Granted, I still won't wear the shorts to work, and work clothes are what I really need right now, and I don't really need any more non-work clothes, but at least that's one more thing I've gotten out of my sewing pile. That was my real goal, so yeah.

Project details:
Fabric: 1 yard cotton(?) taken from Mom's stash, ages ago, then made into a romper in 2011--free
Pattern: McCall's 4535 for the bodice; can't remember on the shorts
Year: 1975/?
Notions: lots and lots of bias tape, but I mostly used that the first time around, so I'm not counting it. This time maybe one yard and I'll round up and say $0.25. Also--from stash--ten eyelets ~$0.45; and 7" zipper $0.45.
Made before:no
Make again: if I can figure out what pattern I used for the shorts, I might attempt those
Sewing soundtrack: nothing
First worn: bodice--not yet; shorts--eh, Thursday a couple weeks ago, I think
Wear again: The bodice, um, maybe as a costume. Or as a joke. But the shorts, yeah, probably I will.
Total cost: $1.15