Monthly Archives: February 2010

Dreaming about a new dress.

Oh, how I dream about this dress.

I picked up this pattern last week when I ran into JoAnn’s to pick up some elastic for the bloomers I was making, though I didn’t really need to bring a new pattern home. I just couldn’t help myself into looking through the pattern books, and fell in love with this one.

I am thinking about styles A and B in particular. I think this dress has just the right amount of playfullness for me, while still being grown-up enough to wear to work, and not feel like I’m over dressed. I have no fabric yet, just an idea.  Things that need to be decided:

  • Sleeves or no sleeves? (I already know I’m going with the shorter skirt.)
  • What type of fabric? (cotton, linen, something else entirely?)
  • Solid or patterned?

I’m sure there are many other things that I’ll need to figure out, but while I sew little projects with my fabric stash, this is the one that will be on the back of my mind, keeping my eye out for the perfect fabric, and the right time to get it done.

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Bookmaking: Stop-Motion Video

I love books. Even more, I love watching books be made.

In my publishing program at Chico State, I was lucky enough to substitute a book making class in place of a marketing class. This video reminds me a lot of that class; the offset printer they use is the same type that I was allowed to roll paper through, the massive paper cutter just as scary as the one my teacher used to trim my book for me.

Seeing this video reminds me of the beauty of a handmade book, and how one day I really want to make one for myself, even if it’s only to distribute among friends.

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What’s in a mistake?

Icarus Shawl

I’m so dang mad at this shawl right now.

In reality, though, I’m really, really mad at myself. I’m on the first chart, working on my second repeat of that red box you see in the upper left-hand corner, when something so… craptastic happened. A few stitches fell off my needle (apparently), and unraveled a row or two.

Unfortunately, this is not a problem I can easily fix where it is. I’m going to have to unknit at least two rows. I haven’t worked on the shawl in a week because I’m too mad to be patient to unknit my stitches (instead, I’ve been finding sewing projects to do).

I’ve found that the best thing to do in these situations is to just put everything aside until you’re not mad any more. Perhaps when I pick it up again, I’ll magically figure out how to fix it without unknitting; if not, I’ll spend a half hour doing the work, and put it aside again until I am ready to move past it.

Hopefully I can work up the mental energy to get back on track with this project by the end of the week. I’m on a tight deadline, and I know that the charts after the first one are going to test my patience in a way that I have never experienced (there will be lifelines).

What do you do when you know you’ve got to un-do and re-do something?

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Sweet little underthings.

I love to sew…when the machine doesn’t hate me, when I have fabric, when a pattern calls to me. Luckily, this past weekend saw the convergence of the three, and I sewed myself a delightful little pair of underthings.


About a week ago, Sarai over at Collete Patterns posted a free sewing pattern for her “Madeline Mini Bloomers.” It was of course posted in time for Valentine’s Day, but of course I left myself no time to sew them. Added to the mix was the sad fact that I didn’t have any type of fabric she calls for in the pattern, which left me contemplating the pattern all week.

On Friday, after pulling up the pattern every day, I thought I might as well try the pattern out of cotton, to make sure that I really did like the way it worked up before I went and bought some fabric especially for it. It helped that this pattern needed only a yard of fabric, which so happens to be the length of fabric I most commonly buy.

Bloomers, front view.

And, oh baby, do I like it.

I used some fabric that has been kicking around my stash for the better part of five years. I adore penguins; it’s still winter. What could possibly be better for lounging around?

Bloomers, inside out.

I deviated from the pattern slightly, in that where it calls for regular seams, I chose to do flat felled seams (the same kind of seams found on your jeans), which left the inside very clean-looking. I am super thrilled with how they turned out, since it’s the first time I’ve ever done them. Also, in place of ribbon at the leg to be used as a drawstring, I opted to put in elastic there as well, with a ribbon tied around where it showed in between the buttonholes.

Pattern Notes:

  • I chose to do the XL size, as my waist-to-hip ratio landed me right in the middle of the large/extra large sizing. I always choose to go bigger.
  • When I printed it out on my printer, the 4×4 inch test box only printed out at 3.75×3.75 inches. Since the 3/8″ buttonhole markings were still the correct length, I thought what the heck. I figured it didn’t matter too much, since I was in between sizes.
  • When sewing up the crotch seam, the back side didn’t quite match up with the front. As Britt over at Scrapyard also noted, the “back piece  is drafted so that a very angular piece extends beyond the opposite half.” The quick fix to this was to trim off the angle once the seam was sewn, so that the leg opening had a continuous edge.
  • I had to unpick a casing line because I hadn’t marked it correctly on my machine (it was so far over that I couldn’t see the guides and had to use painter’s tape to mark it); it was rather obvious that the 1/4″ elastic wouldn’t fit through.
  • Doing the flat felled seams really helped when it came time to thread the elastic through, as there was nothing for the safety pin I was using to get caught on. It’s the first time I haven’t cursed my seam allowances.

Over all, I really like this pattern. The cotton makes these bloomers perfect for sitting around the house in; they’re short but provide full coverage. I probably wouldn’t wear these under any clothing under than dresses and skirts, and only provided that it wasn’t a slim cut so that the extra fabric that the gathers give you won’t show.

I am most definitely going to make this pattern again, in a nicer, lighter-weight fabric.

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How to measure yourself.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have always had the hardest time measuring myself. I think part of it is that I am always in denial about what size I really am.

However, when creating clothing for yourself—sewing, knitting, or any other medium—the most important tool you have is your measurement. And it’s really important to divorce yourself from the idea that you’re a “size X.” While occasionally you might get lucky, more often than not you’re inviting a world of hurt for that moment when you finish your garment and it doesn’t fit.

Just as you’ve probably learned that in one clothing line you’re a size 10, and another a size 12, in home couture, the “sizes” listed are going to be unique that specific designer. However, they offer something more important than size numbers: actual garment dimensions.

This is why self measurement is so important; no matter what “size” you think you are, you will know if something is going to fit you if their measurements fit yours. Also, it allows you to see which areas may not fit, and allow you to plan for alterations before you begin (something I’m itching to learn how to do).

As  Cathy Hays explains, “Taking measurements is a vital element in the creation of a perfectly fitting block or garment. Extra care at this stage can save you an extraordinary amount of time, effort and extra expense later”. Her tutorial on measurement is part of a larger series on drafting a corset designed to fit, but the measurements she instructs you on are useful for all types of garments.

Interweave Knits has also covered the topic of measurement in a YouTube video (imbedded below) that discusses measurement, and what a knitting pattern means when it mentions “ease.”

Correct measurements will always help to ensure that the project you’re making will fit the intended recipient.

Now, if you excuse me, I have to go measure my sister’s dog for a birthday present.

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Valentine’s Embroidery

So, I as usual, I was late to the game in making a valentine for my sweetheart. But then Saturday afternoon, I saw Jennie’s free pattern for her cupid card.

Cupid Bookmark

Unfortunately, I didn’t have card-sized cardstock. What I did have, though, were cardstock bookmarks, which ironically enough, I had purchased a pack of to make bookmarks for Valentine’s Day two years ago.

Instead of printing it out full-sized, I printed the pattern out at 1/4th the size, which was exactly right for fitting it on the bookmark. I held it up to the window to mark the dots out on the rougher side of the cardstock, and then pushed a pin through just enough to leave an indent on the other side. I then flipped it over and pushed through all the way through with the needle I was embroidering with.

I used three strands of embroidery thread (the usual six wouldn’t pull through the card), and tried to make the back side nice and neat since it would be very visible. Then I signed the back and put it in the book he was reading, left to be found.

The whole project took me about half an hour, which was good because I was running out of time before the mister showed up.

He says he likes it a lot, and now I’m inspired to make more bookmarks with different things embroidered on them.

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