Sunday, December 4, 2011

I made a shirt!

I feel like I just reached a new level in the sewing video game.

I have a bunch of half-started posts talking about this shirt, waiting for me to upload photos. (I clearly haven't reached any advanced levels in the blogging video game.) So here's how it started: I decided to make presents for my parents. My mom used to sew quite a lot, so it's not like a handmade shirt would be a novelty for my dad, but I thought they'd both appreciate the concept. So I found a shirt pattern and a skirt pattern (I wanted to make a vest for my mom, but thought that might be beyond me if I couldn't actually fit it on her).
Pinning and cutting takes me *forever* because I have to do it on the floor, and between the cats and my creaky body, it's slow going. So I did them both before starting any sewing. (A smart idea, as it turns out, because now it's the beginning of December and I haven't started sewing the skirt for my mom, but at least I'm not staring at a giant piece of fabric!)

The shirt was interesting - lots of stuff I hadn't really done before, like the collar. When I went to put the collar together, I realized I'd misread the pattern piece, and had only cut one when I was supposed to cut two (duh). And I didn't have enough fabric to cut it out in the direction it was supposed to go (not to mention that the fabric is striped, so it would look odd if I cut it in the other direction). So I ended up cutting two halves and sewing them together first to make one piece, then checking every three seconds to make sure the Frankenstein half was on the underside of the collar. But it worked! You can barely even see the join.

The only thing that's left to do is buttons - they're done by hand, so I can do those at my parents' if I need to. Also I really need to start actually sewing something on the skirt, so I feel slightly less panicked. The pattern looks pretty easy, but you never know. First step: change the needle to the special denim needle I bought (aren't I fancy).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blame it on the bobbin

My sewing machine and I are in a bit of a war right now. It's probably my fault - I stopped using it for a few weeks, it got lonely, it took revenge. But I've been working on some super secret Christmas projects, and I have never had this much trouble. Needle coming unthreaded, thread breaking, bobbin running out in the middle of a seam (okay, that one might be my fault), bobbin tangling, thread tangling. And then, while attempting to untangle the bobbin at one point, I accidentally pulled the bobbin case out, and it took me forever to figure out how to put it back in.

These are the slowest moving "quick" projects ever.

My nemesis

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back again

Hello, lovely people in my computer! I've been neglecting you. In my defence, I've also been neglecting the sewing. No sewing, nothing to talk about. It's the time of year, you know? Plus I needed fabric before I could do anything.

However, I went to the giant Fabricland members sale, and now I have PLANS. Meanwhile, a couple of pics of skirts in the real world.
I got a couple of compliments on the skirt - mostly on how cute the rickrack on the bottom is. Heh. The rickrack made all the difference.

I don't know about this look. I am finding this skirt incredibly hard to style. I blame the pink. In any case, I just wanted to wear it, so I pulled out the black, but I don't love black except with other black, so it wasn't my favourite.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What next?

I went to do some sewing tonight, and realized that I have no ongoing projects for the first time since I re-unpacked the sewing machine. Horrors! So what do I want to do next? I do have a couple of Christmas projects I could start working on. But my fabric stash for clothes is pretty minimal - the only thing I have fabric for is a summery shirt. And it's not so summery out there anymore.

I do, however, have a rather large stash of patterns.  So perhaps I'll pick a couple and then go wander through some fabric stores.

So here's what I have. Two tops:
Simplicity 3750
Butterick 4985

...three dresses, two of which are possibly odd retro patterns that were $2 each:
Colette Crepe

Butterick 4790
Simplicity 3833

...and a bunch of skirts, some of which I'm not convinced would actually look good on me:
Butterick 5613

McCall's 5431

Simplicity 2152
Vogue 8749

And then the things I won't be making now. Knit dresses for when I learn how to sew knits (part of the pattern sale):
Vogue 1027
Vogue 1194

 And a dress I love that is a little beyond my skills right now. But one day!
Colette Rooibos

What do you think? Have a favourite?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Number 3

I finished this skirt today. It's the same pattern as this skirt, although it looks pretty different to me. I liked the pocket so much I made two, as you can see. I also cut the skirt to be a bit narrower. And I made my own waist tie, out of the same material as the pockets (a pink and green check, if you can't see it).

I'm also wearing the same shirt in both pictures. I think this is a sign I need to stop making skirts with green in them.

This skirt feels much more homemade - the fabric is a pretty light (and cheap) cotton, but it also has a certain amount of stretch, which caused the hem to pucker a bit. Up close it's not the cleanest looking thing. But I love the pattern mixing. I'm not totally sure what I have to wear with it, though.

Outfit post

Proof that I actually wear my sewing projects - I wore this to work last week (and then had to wait until I replaced my camera batteries to post it).

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I'm back...and I have a skirt!

Today was my last sewing class, and I managed to finish the skirt. Hooray! Even better, I'm really happy with it. I will wear the hell out of this skirt. I'm already planning another with the same pattern. Maybe navy (I know!) with orange contrast for all the topstitching? And maybe an orange band around the bottom if I can figure out how to add that onto the pattern?

I'm so happy I took the sewing course. Sure, I could have managed on my own again - I figured it out enough the first time. But there were things, like dealing with the fabric, that I might not have thought to figure out. And having someone help me interpret my first real pattern was so helpful - mostly to remind me what all the different stiches meant! I feel pretty confident that I can figure out another pattern now. And there's always the internet to help.

Proof that this was more involved than my first skirt:

Look! It has a real waistband and a zipper. And I clearly picked my pattern well (without realizing anything about what I was doing) because I didn't have to blindstitch the hem, which seems to be fairly time-consuming, at least according to the woman in my class, the best sewer there, who had only managed half her hem in 2 hours.  Her skirt was pretty full, but still.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Once you fall into the Etsy trap...

How much do I want this pincushion?

Ooh, or this one shaped like a pear!

So ridiculously adorable. Also would solve the problem of continually losing my pincushion among all the other tomato pincushions. I wonder why the tomato became the accepted standard?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

7 down, 1 to go

I had my second-last sewing class yesterday. I'm really going to miss the class! The studio does offer other classes, but they seem to offer only the intro class on evenings and weekends. Which just seems weird to me, because I feel like I'm their target student. Who are they getting for the daytime classes?

Confession: I thought I was going to get my skirt done way before the end of the class. I had plans to take something else to work on the last class. But I'm actually a little farther behind because of the curved seams and the top sewing. And I didn't get nearly as much done this week as I thought. So now I'm wondering if I'm even going to get finished in class time! So much for feeling like a star pupil. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I haven't had much time to sew the past few days - life is busy! But I did manage to sew the trim on my skirt! I found some more lime green rickrack during my last fabric store trip, much to my delight. I mean, I think the skirt looks fine without it, but it feels more *finished* with it.

Lulu agrees.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Skirt Progress

I made it a little further on my skirt during sewing class this week:

It almost looks like a skirt! All that's left is the zipper, waistband, and hem. I'm especially proud of all the topstitching, which hopefully you can see a bit better in the pic below.

(I'm still trying to figure out pictures in Blogger - at first all my pictures automatically went to the top of the post, and now I don't seem to have any justifying options. One day I'll figure it out!)

After I'd stitched it all together, I tried it on. It *just* fits. Or maybe it fits fine, but it's a closer fitting pattern than I thought. In any case, I'm relieved, because with all the seams being topstitched, it would be a pain to let out. Maybe next time I should baste it all first to try on? Or perhaps I should start making muslins for proper fitting.

...and once again I think I'm getting ahead of myself. Learn to sew first, perfect fitting after.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Onward and Upward

I have patterns! And also fabric and contrasting fabric for another skirt, notions for the shirt pattern I got, and a Fabricland membership. Also, much less money. I think it was the patterns. I should really start looking for sale fabrics, though, to keep the costs down.

So, if you're keeping count, that's seven fabrics I now have in the house that I intend to make things with. Luckily, I actually have patterns/plans for six of them. I also have three more patterns here and two on the way. Surely this will keep me entertained for a while?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pin me baby one more time

I skimmed through a couple of pattern alteration/perfect fit books from the library last night. Eep. They seem really complicated! Of course, I've only finished one skirt so far, so maybe I was being a tad precipitous in reading the books.

It's a bit of a pattern with me. [Pun not intended.] When I get interested in something I tend to read a lot, and in detail, before I actually *do* much. Because reading is easier than doing, right? So I tend to know a lot about things (yoga, bellydance, running) that I'm still very much a beginner at. This time, however, I'm going to just make a few more things, without muslins, before I try to make them all fit perfectly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tale of two fabrics

This is the fabric I bought with no real project in mind. It's hard to tell (because I'm a terrible photographer), but it's yellow, and there's an embroidered pattern as well. Super cute. I'm thinking I want to make a summer shirt. I actually went to buy the pattern on line, thinking to save myself the trip north, but the shipping to Canada was as much as the pattern. Ridiculous.

The second fabric I bought while checking out a fabric store not that far from my place (verdict: pretty good! Nice fabrics, well labelled, seemed cheap enough, plus they had notions, which was exciting. No patterns, though.) I believe it's a crepe - I've only sewn with cottons before, so that should be fun. The funny thing is that I bought it with the memory of having ordered a Colette shirt pattern online, but when I got home I remembered that I'd bought a dress pattern, but the shirt was out of stock. So now I have 2 fabrics and no patterns! Oops.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cut once, measure...4 times?

Last time I was at Fabricland I bought some fabric that was on sale without having a project in mind. I've decided to make a shirt, which has brought up 2 issues: 1) shipping on patterns (specifically Simplicity patterns) to Canada is ridiculous! I was trying to avoid making the loooong trek up to Fabricland again, but I'm not paying as much for shipping as for the patterns. So I have to make another trip north.

Also, 2) measuring. I fit perfectly into one size on the bottom. When I measured my bust, it seemed to be a size smaller; no problem. And then I started reading about Full Bust Adjustment, based on the fact that patterns are supposedly all built around a B cup. Which I am not. According to my reading, if there is a difference of more than 2 1/2" between the bust and the high bust, you should do a FBA. But when I made those two measurements, there was only 1" difference. Which, visually, seems suspect, if you know what I mean. So I measured again...and got completely different numbers. Third time, third set of numbers. So clearly I don't know where I should actually be measuring, which is frustrating. I guess I should take the highest numbers for each? In which case my bust is right in the same size as my hips (lookit me, a perfect pattern fit), and I *do* need to do the FBA.

Whew. Just wait until I get to fitted shirts and dresses, when I have to shorten the back by 2 inches.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ta-da: it's a skirt

Look, I made a skirt! My sewing destiny has been fulfilled.

Here's the story of the skirt: What I didn't mention in the story of why I started sewing is that I bought the sewing machine 3 1/2 years ago. I bought the machine, and this excellent book Sew What Skirts, that shows you how to make skirts without official patterns. And I started making a drawstring skirt.

When I was about halfway done I moved into a new place with a roommate, and there was no place for a kitchen-type table, and definitely no space in my room for a sewing table. So the sewing machine sat in its box for 2 years. Eventually, after my various roommates left, I bought a table and chairs, and entertained thoughts of sewing again, but I was scared that I wouldn't remember how. So I decided to sign up for a beginning sewing class, to push me into sewing again. Once I'd been to the first class and had figured out once again how to thread a machine, I pulled this skirt out and attempted to finish it off.

So, the skirt didn't turn out like the picture - it's much more volumnous. I don't even remotely remember when I first cut the fabric, but my theory is that I used a 60" when it was designed for 45" fabric, or something like that. Supporting this theory is the fact that the bottom is supposed to have the green rickrack as well, but I didn't have enough, so clearly it's not supposed to be so wide and gathered. But it's done, and I wore it to work and it didn't fall apart, so I'm thrilled.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Second (okay, third) completed project!

Don't worry, I won't number every project. The novelty will eventually wear off.

This week in sewing class we made zippered pouches, in order to practice putting in a zipper in preparation for making our skirts. This was the first week where everything didn't go completely smoothly - the zipper installation was fine, but I had some issues sewing the topstiched box around the zipper. First the thread snapped, then my bobbin ran out, I forgot to backstitch when starting again, and then I got very confused about which direction I was sewing. So it was a pretty ugly decorative feature.

I wanted to make sure I had the zipper thing down, so I made another one at home from leftover skirt fabric, which went much smoother. Hooray. I'm now using it to carry sewing supplies to and from class.

The why, what, and how

On our first day of sewing class, the instructor had us each introduce ourselves and talk about why we were taking the class. Quite a few of the people had mothers who sewed, and were looking to pick up a little of that themselves, which I thought was interesting. My mom also sewed - before I was born and when I was little she had a small sewing business, making clothes for people, usually in exchange for random crafts. Hey, it was the late 60s. It also explains why the house was full of macrame while I was growing up. And she sewed a lot of my clothes when I was a kid, as well as one fantastically hilarious wedding dress from a sheet for a Halloween costume one year.

But for me, the urge to sew came from looking at my wardrobe one summer, specifically at the skirts, and realizing just how simple they were in construction. Surely, I thought, I could sew that, even as the least crafty person I know. And so I bought a sewing machine...

Monday, July 25, 2011

First completed project!

...unless you count two scraps of fabric sewn together. Hey, the seam edges were finished, that's something.

I made this drawstring bag in my sewing class. And it was super easy! The hardest part was getting the materials - I braved one of the scary fabric stores for professionals (which was GIANT and full of all sorts of gorgeous unlabelled fabric), but then had to go all the way out to Fabricland to get thread that wasn't industrial sized.

So there you have it: the start of my sewing adventure. And hopefully the first of many more projects!