Monday, January 19, 2015

This and That

I'm in between major projects right now, but still keeping busy in the Cave.

DH talked me into alterations and mending on a couple pairs of his motorcycle pants. One pair done, and one to go. The alterations consist of adding some room by adding a wedge of fabric to the center back (both are the same style). Mending is fixing a zipper on one and replacing the hook fastener on the other. Only for my husband!

I cut out a couple more pairs of the TNT pajama pants (McCall's 2476)  late last year and have sewed up both of them as of this weekend.  Here's the pattern, which is out of print, I think. However, there are lots of pajama patterns out there and all of them are similar.


Here's a photo of the latest ones. Yes, folded. You know what pajama pants look like, so this is more to show the prints.


I used "quilter's" cotton for these, which is a nice weight for lounging and sleeping. I used to make flannel ones, but they're too warm to sleep in. These sew up pretty quickly because I've made so many. Instant gratification and a good way to use some of the wilder cotton prints I have. I think both of these came from Nob Hill Fabrics. If you're visiting Albuquerque and looking for souvenir fabrics to take home, Liz's store is a good one to look into. 

I also just completed a crochet project. I don't pull out the hooks often, but it's nice to make something from time to time. Plus, I can work on it while hanging out at home without having to be in the Cave. I learned how when I was in junior high with guidance from my grandma and one of my teachers (thank you Mrs. Penn!). This latest project is a scarf that I found on the Moogly blog, called the Chevron Lace Infinity Scarf. The yarn is just Red Heart, but I loved the Monet color scheme when I saw it. The photo below shows it looped twice around the neck.


I'm pretty happy with how it came out although I found the instructions a little hard to follow. I'm thinking about making the matching fingerless mitts too (so I guess the pattern wasn't that hard to follow!).

One of my latest projects is the result of the Ugly Fabric Challenge sponsored by the ASG chapter here in Albuquerque. My fabric is a beige stretch cotton bottom weight. Let's just say it's not my best color.


There's a lot of it, so I'll be muslining pants and attempting to compete one "real" pair.  I'm currently trying to narrow down the patterns I've pulled from my collection. Any leftover fabric after the challenge will be used for the First Day of School project that we've done for the past couple of years. The fabric is heavy enough for kids' pants.

Another of my latest projects is also related to ASG. We are one of the sponsoring guilds of the biannual Fiber Arts Fiesta, so we need to make some little goodies for a charity fundraiser at the event. I have been going through my Pinterest and the pattern collection to come up with some ideas for quick and cute things to make. I know, charity sewing, but my "selfish sewist" goal is to use up many of the scraps that are taking over my sewing space.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fleece for Wintertime

I just finished a couple of fleece vests over the holidays. They're perfect for the weather here, substituting for a jacket on milder days or as an extra layer when it's colder.  Today is one of the colder days (Happy New Year!).  I'm still in pjs and probably will be for a while, so I'm going to show them on the dress form.

I cut out both vests at the same time and sewed them right after each other. This is the first one I sewed, using a cat print fleece remnant from JoAnn's.


And some detail shots, since the print obscures them a bit. Collar, yoke, zip and seams:


In-seam pockets:


The pattern is McCall's 5252 View A. Last time I looked, it was still in print.  The McCall's site appears to be down right now so I was unable to check.


I was attracted to it by the design details and the MP3 pocket. However, this is a Unisex pattern, which basically means it's designed for a guy. I used a combination of Small through the armscyes, tapering to Medium through the torso, and I had to do a lot of adjustments to make this vest work. I know, I should have known based on the fit on the female model (who looks none too happy about having to wear the sample garment).

First of all, it's very long. I ended up folding out 2" on the front yoke and upper back. I also shortened at the hem another 1 3/4". Second, the shoulders are also very wide. After sewing the vest together and basting the side seams, I tried it on and determined that I needed to narrow each shoulder by 1 1/4".  Basically, that just involved taking out the basting, laying out the vest and using the curved ruler to remove a crescent of fabric on each side. Due to the upper body adjustment, I had to move the pockets up. Fortunately I figured that out before inserting the zipper and hemming it. Oh yeah, that MP3 pocket? I left it out. I could not figure out a way to make it work with my iPhone 5 and not look ridiculous. The MP3 pocket is really  designed for a smaller device like a Nano. Good thing I have blue tooth ear buds, so it doesn't really matter. 

This pattern is also what Kathleen Fasanella calls "coffin clothes," in that all the details are only on the front--no yoke or seaming on the back. It doesn't matter so much with the print fleece, but if it were a solid... I guarantee that similar RTW garments are not designed like that, and I have the clothes to prove it. If I do use this pattern again (and I might), I will modify the back so that it's not just a blank piece of fabric. With all the issues I had with the fit, I do like the style. I think I'd like to try the pullover version of the hoodie at some point.

The next vest is made from sugar skull fleece I saw at Santa Fe Fabrics during last spring's Fiberly Train weekend. Skulls are a popular Southwestern motif due to Dia De Los Muertos.


Detail of the collar and zip:


Butterick 3257 is a copyright 2001 pattern that I've made twice before. It's a favorite, and unlike McCall's 5252, it's designed for women! Much easier to fit right from the envelope with minimal alterations. I used a combination of View C (the red vest) for the body and View D (the cat print vest) for the collar.


This pattern is designed for wovens and faux fur, so the sewing instructions assume the garment is lined. Since I used fleece, I omitted the lining, then simply turned under and top stitched hems in place. I had to improvise the collar but the instructions from McCall's 5252 came in handy when working it out. The collar is a bit high for me, but it's unlikely I'll ever wear this vest zipped all the way to the top.

Neither vest was particularly difficult to make, although the separating zipper can be a little tricky since it's important to match the upper edge, lower edge and any horizontal seams. I always use a longer zipper than called for by the pattern so I don't have to worry about sewing around the pull, then remove excess teeth later. I also try to leave the the entire zipper together when sewing it to the garment. That way it's more likely that the sides will match up.

I noticed that the JoAnn's fleece was thinner and less dense than the fleece from Santa Fe Fabrics, but it's not terrible. I wouldn't consider either to be "technical" quality fleece, but fine for normal wear. You can make a vest out of a small piece of fleece. I had a yard or less of each, and I have remnants left that I can use for mitts, etc. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Time


Here it is, almost Christmas and I haven't posted any news this month. It's been a busy time, like it is for most of us. There have been multiple projects at work that have pulled me away from blogging. And on top of that, some medical issues that have taken up some time. Thankfully nothing too serious, but I've been making the rounds of doctors and having tests.

I also needed to burn off some vacation time since I can't carry it over, and it disturbs me to just lose it. So DH and I did a quick getaway to Las Vegas recently since it's a quick and easy flight and hotels are relatively inexpensive in the run up to Christmas. We stayed at the Mirage, our usual Vegas home away from home.

Since we hadn't been in a while, we went the the Secret Garden at the hotel. It features a dolphin exhibit and a small zoo of big cats...








...including three lion cubs. They have a minder in their exhibit at all times. They're still young, but I imagine that will have to stop that soon. 

We also did a lot of dining out, and went to see Penn and Teller. Their magic show is very un-traditional and a lot of fun. 

The casinos went all out in their decorating. The Venetian and Palazzo featured a peacock theme that was quite pretty. The scale of the decorations is hard to capture, but the peacocks were enormous! I'd guess that the ornaments in the picture below are at least as large as a yoga ball.


The poinsettias below are the size of a coffee table.


Being Vegas, there are some strange contrasts. This menorah was in front of a fountain. I think someone forgot what the statuary was. As they say, it's the thought that counts! At least Hanukkah was not forgotten.


I'm home until Friday, when I have to go back to the office. I think I'm done with most of the duties that DH has assigned for me this week and can relax a bit before going back to the office. 

Have a wonderful holiday everyone, whatever you may celebrate (or not)! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Early Christmas


I recently had the opportunity to buy a slightly used Bernina 710, so I'm considering it an early Christmas present to myself. It has way more bells and whistles than the Activa 140 I've been using, and I'm enjoying it a lot. So far, I've made the sweater set that I recently showed you, a pair of pajama pants, and another sweater knit shell (from the Loes Hinse pattern, but it goes with this cardigan that I made a few years ago).

In addition to the machine, a lot of accessories--a table, knee lift, extra bobbins, accessory case, cover, and some feet.

I'm keeping the Activa as a back-up and class machine, while this one will mostly live in the Sewing Cave. It's portable but kind of big to be hauling around.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Loes Hinse Sweater Set


This pattern has been around for quite some time, but this is the first time I've made it up. I traced it out in a combination of Medium and Large, which is typical of  how I trace designs for this pattern line.


The fabric is an acrylic/rayon sweater knit that I discovered at Hancock Fabrics in the fall of 2011. It looks like wool and was easy to cut out and sew. I haven't seen any lately but it does pop up from time to time, so I'll be keeping an eye out for more.

I made both pieces of the set. Here's the shell, which has stash buster potential. It takes less than a yard of 60" wide fabric. There is a seam down the front, but that should be pretty easy to eliminate if a different look is needed.


And here's the cardigan all by itself. It also came together very easily, more so than some McVogueRick patterns that I've used in the past. 


I'll be making more versions of this pattern based on how well this effort came out.  I even have fabric for the next set picked out already!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Loes Hinse Tango Skirt for Fall



Yeah, I know. You're probably thinking..."What? Another Tango?" Yes, this one that you've probably seen in various versions a hundred times.

I can't help it. I really love this skirt because it's so pretty on and so easy to make. This one is made of some rayon that I bought from Fabric Mart many years ago. I'm planning to wear this one with tall boots and I'm still trying out sweaters to wear with it. Here I've paired it with another TNT pattern, my Kwik Sew 2565 T shirt, but I also have a couple of RTW sweaters that would work.

I took this picture last night after Material Girls when it was already dark outside and too late for me to model it on the front patio. But I promise that you'll see it on me at some point. And you'll probably keep seeing new ones too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Simplicity 2777-Arkivestry Gown


This is not one of my usual garments, but a friend asked me if I could make this for a project he's involved in. It sounded interesting so I agreed to help him out.

The fabric started out as white silk chiffon, then he painted it with Setacolor  to get the red he wanted. You can also see the gold accents he added, but it's difficult to see all the effects he added from applying the paint over scrunched up plastic and adding accents of other colors. The paint does not affect the hand of the fabric too much, but made it easier to handle.

The pattern is this one from Simplicity:


There is a lot of ease in this pattern, to say the least. I made it in the smallest size in the envelope (6) and I was able to try it on with plenty of room to spare.

I originally intended to have French seams throughout, but ended up switching over to serged. I kept sewing the French seams backward because I couldn't tell right side from wrong. Either way, I think it's fine since both types read as narrow seams from the surface of the gown.

I do have a couple of gripes about this pattern that I'll remedy if I ever make it again. I initially thought that the neckline was a casing; it is not. The instructions call for a gathered neckline that's a production to make. And I still don't know what they mean by 2" wide "novelty ribbon braid", which is supposed to encase the raw edge of the gathered neckline. C'mon Simplicity, you own a company that sells trim! So throw us a bone will ya, and tell us what you want us to use! It's not as if there's a copyright issue or anything. I couldn't find a trim fitting this description locally, so I punted and used the neckline technique from the blouse views. Still gathering like crazy, but this version has you narrow hem the raw edge and sew narrow ribbon over the gathers, forming ties. I think it's reasonably successful:


There are two layers of ribbon on mine. I bought satin and organza ribbons to play with. The organza was a little weak for gathering onto, and the satin was a little bright. So I gathered onto the satin and applied the organza on top to knock back the shine. I actually like the ruffled edge, so I hope my friend will too.

The gathers were made by zigzagging over dental floss laid on the gathering line. Excellent technique if bringing in a large quantity of fabric. However, turning under a casing and inserting elastic would have also accomplished this effect with less effort.