Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Post - Fabulous Cushions!

I'm very excited to have my very first guest-poster!

Let me introduce Devon:


Isn't she awesome?? Here she is on Christmas Eve, ironing and bourbon'ing. In a cocktail dress.
That's just how she rolls. We solidified our friendship over sewing our Halloween costumes and accessories.

She put together some cushions recently and I asked her if she'd be willing to guest post while I frantically get the zipper installed for the Mad Men Dress. Home stretch! I'll let Devon captain the ship from here!

Hello, campers! Christina asked me to share a recent adventure in slipcovers with you.

I don't have a couch, and I was expecting a pile of people over for a party. To mix up seating, I thought I'd make some floor cushions. I got three pieces of pre-cut 2" foam, and a yard of 3" by-the-yard foam at JoAnn's (on sale- which they cut with an electric bread knife!), and I got the fabric at Ikea. It's a fully-printed cotton blend, so it ended up being quite heavy, and I sewed with basic black polyester thread.

I measured my foam and added a 1/2" seam allowance. I decided to just do a flap closure, instead of messing around with zippers, so I added a few inches to one of the large sides of the cushion and separated it into two pieces. To keep track of things, I took notes for dimensions on an index card.

Cutting those big pieces was a bit of a challenge! I had more than enough fabric, so I generally cut with some room for trimming. Once I had all my pieces done, I drew seam allowances on the wrong sides with a chalk pencil. 
I also marked lengths of the side pieces for the smaller cushions, so I wouldn't accidentally mix up the 16" and 18" long strips.

Then I started sewing! I had to do a fair amount of tension adjusting on my machine from my previous project, since the thread was fine and the fabric quite thick, which I tested on a scrap piece of fabric.

I did the big cushion first since I figured it would take the most time. The three little ones were a breeze after that.

One thing I modified as I went was cutting out the corners. Since I squared off all my corners instead of using a long strip around all the skinny sides, I ended up with a lot of bulk. Trimming them made sewing easier, and made smoother boxy edges. A little tedious, but they came out well. I also didn't worry about matching all the corners perfectly; there was enough bulk remaining that I didn't have problems with holes.

All in all, I was quite pleased, and guests found them cozy!

Thanks, Devon! I hope to be back later this week with my finished Mad Men Dress and a post about some supplies I have received. Oh okay, I will give you a preview:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vintage Skort

When I was between the ages of 9-12, my mom let me pick out a pattern and some fabric. She cut the pieces, lost one of the pieces, the directions and the envelope. I picked the above pattern, OOP Butterick 5454. Described as: "Two flippy pantskirts. Front wrapped or with a button-on panel."

For some reason, she kept the remnants, and the pieces she had already cut out. They were lost in a drawer.

Fast forward about 15-17 years. I am finishing a quilt for my niece. I'm rummaging about in mom's sewing cabinet for the tomato pin cushion and I come across the pieces. I stash them in my sewing machine bag and take them home with me.

I look up the pattern on e-bay and for less than $8.00 it is in my hands in a few days.

This is a child's size 10, so this won't fit me. But that isn't going to stop me from making it for my niece. She's about 18 months old, so it'll be a while before she can wear it.

Here I am, telling this story while holding the very preliminary stitched together piece:

I'm explaining that this is the original fabric.
Two pieces were missing!
Clearly I'm disgusted about something.
Realize I've been documented!
Let's take a look at where I'm at with the project now!

Skirt Front
Skirt Rear
Skirt Buckle (my favorite part!)
Secret Panel
I just need to install the waist-facing and hem. We all know how I feel about hemming, this will probably sit for a month or two before it gets done...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Colette Violet

Last Friday, Made Sewing Studio here in Seattle hosted Sarai from Colette Patterns.

They announced there would be a discount for patterns purchased at the event, as well as an extra special 10% for those who showed up in a garment made from her line.

I originally bought the Violet because I saw Lauren's version and fell in love. Seriously, how adorable is that??

I took this opportunity as a challenge to put together the violet in a week. Put it together I did, however, I had one small (haha, see what I did there?) issue. The smallest size was measured at a bust 33", which is a full 3 inches larger than my bust measurement. Whatever is a girl to do?!

I traced off the pattern and using the "slash and spread"(overlap) technique, I made this sucker fit me.

I relied heavily on this article in threads magazine. Seriously. If you ever need to grade patterns, print that out. I did, and laminated it. That's how serious I am, it was a real help. I don't have any books on fit and grading, but I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to keep my eyes peeled for such things, especially given the sizing for the big 4 patterns.

So here's the top:

Let's talk about armscyes for a minute. I think mine are too low. The reason for that is when I lift my arm, SERIOUSLY limited range of motion, and it picks the blouse up which is really annoying.

On the photo on the left, you can see where the garment sits. On the photo on the right, I've drawn in the approximate line of my arm and arm pit. The red indicates the gap between the two. Other than that issue, I really love this pattern. If anybody has any ideas or tips, please comment. I can use the direction!

Oh, I also wondered how other people finish their arm-seams. I finished the sides with french seams and zig-zagged everything else, but I'm really clueless about arm finishes. This really is the first garment I've put together that has traditional sleeves. After the minoru I'm tempted to put raglan sleeves on everything!!

I used these wonderful tortoiseshell with metal accent buttons. The fabric of the shirt is a bit of an industrial blue/grey and I was worried that it would start to look like a uniform.

And a close up of my "blah blah blah" tag. It's just printed ribbon.

Once I've ironed out the sleeve fitting, I plan on making another one as part of my spring/summer wardrobe.

On another note, I took all of the plastic casing off of my machine this evening and checked everything out. I think it's really important to see how things work so you are a bit more educated on how they can be fixed. While I had it all taken apart I also oiled my machine. Oddly enough, my user manual recommends at least once a year, while some various sources on the internet recommend an oiling after every 8 hours of sewing. How often do you oil?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Minoru or I MADE A JACKET!

Helllooo Minoru!

This jacket was so much fun to put together. I participated in Tasia's sewalong over at sewaholic and that made each step super easy, and encouraged me to take my time, which was great as taking my time has been a huge challenge for me with sewing.

I started this jacket January 30th, a bit behind the sewalong schedule. I fell a bit behind again when I tried to install in-seam pockets WITH zippers. I did do it, but I am not sure if I like how they turned out. More on that in moment. This is a google search I lead over and over again with no results. If I ever get a handle on that, I will be attempting to make a tutorial.

Things I like about this jacket: the raglan sleeves. The feminine gathering. The gigantic collar. The nipped waist.

Things I don't like about this jacket: topstitching for days and days. Okay, so it's not that I don't like the topstitching, just that I am lazy! Be warned, this takes up more than 2 spools of thread, if you are topstitching and assembling in the same color. Tasia even ran out of thread partway through the sewalong!

So, as I was saying. I fell a bit behind during the sewalong. Then something happened and all the sudden I was nearly finished, except for the hem.

That sound - that sound is what I hear in my head every time I think about hemming something. You guys, I made this Vogue #9771 THREE YEARS AGO and it it still remains hemless. Now, granted, it is a bias cut top so it's not unraveling, and I have washed it a bunch with no problems but that isn't the point.

The point is that I hate hemming and it is the bane of my existence. So this jacket sat. For maybe 3 weeks? It just sat there. I made the sailor outfit, traced off numerous patterns, made a colette violet. Picked my nose, I don't know what else. And my friends kept asking me, "Soooo are you done with that jacket yet?"

"Oh, no, I think I'm going to make some more modifications to it."
"Oh, no, I'm super busy right now (*ahem DOWNTON ABBEY ahem*) but I'll get to it."
"Oh, no, I'm just preparing for a trip to outer-space, don't think I"ll be needing a jacket there." (You will, it is cold.)

Last night, I broke two needles. I also didn't figure out why my stitching was all wonky, which eventually was due to the machine being threaded incorrectly unbeknownst to me. Apparently if you break a needle, you should double check the threading again. I'll be honest, the hem on this isn't perfect, but like a true renegade, i don't care.

Let's talk about that pocket business.

The pockets I installed feature fun kelly-green zippers. They bow out at the hips, making me look "hippier" than I am. Bad notion? Bad placement, possibly. I think the pockets are too low, which I'll take into consideration on my next version.

Hello bell shape!
Interior? I only have bad photobooth shots. But here they are.

Bright Green bemberg rayon for the sleeves!
Piece of gross-grain ribbon that says "blah blah blah", now standard on all my garments!

Next minoru? Yes. Another. It will feature no hood, better in-seam pockets (although I don't know what that means at this particular point, because I really love having zippers in those pockets) and a different set of interior pockets.

I already have the fabric for it, darlings!

I don't know what kind of fabric this is. It's woven, obviously. It's not scratchy and doesn't smell weird.

The body will be lined with either this:
Ikea Britton Nummer
Or possibly this:
Ikea Julita

Did you make a minoru? If you are unsure, GET ON THE BANDWAGON. You seriously will not regret it, this is a great pattern.

It seems I made a mistake in cutting my pattern. After a few wears, I really wish I would make a larger size. Any ideas aside from buying the pattern again?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wardrobe Planning

Inspired by A Good Wardrobe, I've decided to make a list of the items I'd like to sew.

In preparation, I created a pinterest board, and have thought about areas my wardrobe lacks.

It's a bit ambitious, but I'm ready to tackle this sewing!  I often find myself sort of wheeling at the end of a project, wondering where to go next. I don't think I'll actually get all of these items sewn, but they're good projects to have on the list.
I still need to go through my stash to figure out fabric options, but I think I'm going to try and sew mostly out of stash. That's the point, right?

I've got the fabric already for the madmen challenge dress, and that's going to be the next project I tackle.

For the tops and blouses, I've already completed one violet, which I need to post about. 

The vintage jacket has been a work in progress for a very long time. I would like to put a lining in it. I just need to cut said lining, install and hem. Then the jacket is finished!

I recently won a giveaway over at Presser Foot Propaganada, which was the sweet scallop short pattern from pattern runway. I am in love! I also want to create a pair of sailor shorts, and a hacked high-waisted skirt that would feature a crown shaped waistband and suspenders.

Lastly, I want to make two crinolines, each a different length. I've got several fancy dresses in my closet already that could really use a little bit of oomph underneath. I'll also need a crinoline for the madmen dress.

I had a lot of fun creating vector imagines of the line drawings I found on the internet and putting these boards together. They look a lot more attractive than the rudimentary mock-ups I sketched. I can sew, but I'm not an illustrator!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What does your sewing space look like?

Friends, do you have a dedicated sewing space? I remember as a child, my mother dragging her sewing machine out each night after the dinner table was cleared, pins clattering against the wood, the ironing board set up behind her but close enough to the table so she could set the iron on the table instead of the board. Does anybody else do that?

When I started to sew, I lived in a very tiny studio apartment. I would drag out my ironing board, and set my sewing machine up on my coffee table, sewing while sitting on my couch. If I needed to cut something, I cleared the coffee table and cut, then put everything back to continue my work. What a mess it was!

A few years ago, I had a dedicated sewing room. It was delightful, and I wish I had taken advantage of it more than I did. This room was wonderful because I could keep the ironing board out at all times, keep the machine set up on a separate table and have a dedicated cutting and layout area.

My set-up today, is more shared living room, but unlike the tiny studio, the living room is quite large. I've arranged the floor plan in such a way that I can face my computer and watch/listen to movies while I'm working.

I'm curious, if you have both a serger and a sewing machine, do you keep them set up and out all the time?
I've also seen sewing rooms painted brilliant colors, but I worry that detracts from fabric or could reflect back on fabric poorly, specifically when draping, as shadows play such a huge role.

Here are some sewing spaces I found on the internet:

I love the light colors. The shelves provide storage space close to hand and the table provides great working area.

I love the use of shelves and storage baskets. The tiny shelf where the machine is sitting isn't realistic at all, in my opinion, but would be a good place to store the machine when not in use.

This room is amazing. I'm drawn to shelves and anything arranged by color. The original post that I sourced the photo from details the room in many different stages of use.

I keep telling myself to take photos of my sewing space, but keep forgetting to when the light makes it easy.

String and Clothespins for current pattern pieces. Get them off the floor!

Ironing board on the left, shelves between the table and ironing station.

A peek at my shelves. Those three drawers house notions and various cutting tools.

Pardon the mess!

I also recently picked up some storage boxes that are sized perfectly for patterns from Ikea. I'll have to double check the model numbers, but they were from this line.

I'm currently working on a Colette violet blouse, and have learned a lot about the slash and spread method for pattern grading, as the smallest size is still a bit too big.

I need to: take photos of the completed Sailor Outfit before it is out of my hands and finish up the Violet blouse.

Here's where it was at last night:

One sleeve.

Friday, March 2, 2012

New Marking Tools!

I'm so excited about the mail delivery today, friends!

Back in the beginning of February, Did You Make That featured a chalk set she had purchased, on this post. I've been thinking about marking and tracing tools for some time now, and realized that my marking tools were really lacking.

I have the traditional chalk tool ensconced in plastic.

I have a "chalk" fabric marking pencil. This doesn't work, and every time I have to use it, I lose faith in ever having a proper mark to be found.

I also have a fabric "marker", but that doesn't seem to work very well for me either.

So I ordered the Signet Color set from hoechstmaß. Made in Germany, and sold via sewdirect.com.
It's an identical set to one manufactured by Dritz, but I was never able to find the Dritz version in any of the sewing stores here in Seattle. I've heard rumors I should have checked the quilting section!

I also use tailor's tacks, but they're time consuming and thread tracing doesn't make sense most of the time. (I hate hand sewing, and recently learned my machine can stitch buttons on for me! More on that ultimate bit of laziness later!)

The German version came in a fancy plastic case to keep everything together. Compare the Dritz with the one I received:

While They both offer the same product, I feel like the hoechstmaß offered a better presentation, and I love that I can keep my entire set together and protected from breakage.

Do any of you have favorite marking tools?

I just finished up the Sailor Outfit, and once I get a chance to take some decent photos, I'll be writing a post about it! I can't wait to use this marking set for my Mad Men Dress Challenge (as hosted by Juliabobbin!) If you're not on board, you totally should be!
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