Friday, June 30, 2017

Dress Catch-Up

Okay, so wow, it's been a while since I posted anything here. I've been too busy actually crafting to write about my crafting. Which isn't totally a bad thing. Also, now that I have an Instagram I kind of feel like that's a better platform for sharing my finished objects then this is anyway. The blog is starting to feel sort of redundant.

Anywho. There are three main dresses that I've made since my last update and they kind of naturally feed into each other.

Backstory on the first dress: I got to take a class from my sewing superhero Gertie Hirsch. I went to the Puyallup Sewing Expo in March and took a class on basic bodice alterations. It was awesome. For a half hour class she really packed in a lot of great info about darts and how to alter necklines and shoulders. Plus I got to meet Gertie and she is a total sweetheart. I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out and I was kind of a spaz, but she was cool about it.

So that was awesome. Then I immediately went home and altered the shoulders of her princess seam bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book and paired it with the pencil skirt for what feels like an utterly decadent silk dress. I did also take in the pencil skirt. I'm much too straight in the hips for most standard pencil skirts. The silk is from Silk Baron, it's a dupioni called black raspberry. I needed a dress to wear to my grandma's memorial dinner, but I didn't want to look to funerial so I think the color was perfect for that. 

Of course I forgot to take any pictures of the dress before dinner, so the lighting is awful in the only picture I do have because it was, like, midnight at this point. 

For a dress on totally the opposite end of the occasion spectrum my next dress was for a baby shower I hosted for a friend. I used the exact same modified princess seam bodice, but I paired it with a 4 yard gathered skirt. The cherry print fabric is from Gertie's fabric line from JoAnn's and it is slinky and cool and a dream to wear, but I'm not going to lie, it's kind of a nightmare to work with. It's slippery and doesn't want to stay on grain. I lined the dress and I've never done a facing and a lining at the same time, but I wish I had on this because the neckline doesn't have enough structure to hold itself up and it actually made the waist line hang funky too. But the print is cute enough that it successfully distracts the eye (until I tell you it's wrong. Oh well).

I hastily knit the little shrug to go with the dress so that no bra straps would make an uninvited appearance. The modified shoulder feels very flattering, but it does cut in just enough that a strapless bra would be better.

I did make an Esplanade Bra (a long line strapless bra) by Orange Lingerie to wear under the silk dress but it's black and the fit needs to be refined a bit. Honestly knitting a shrug was an easier more comfortable and cheaper fix then making another bra. Especially because the yarn I used was out of my stash anyway. 

And the last dress that I made was another gathered skirt. This time I paired it with the v-neck bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. I'm very pleased, it fit perfectly with no modification at all.

The last dress was to wear to a car show and I am a total sucker for a themed dress. What can I say, Ms. Frizzle is my fashion hero. And for those of you that aren't 90s kids, that is a Magic School Bus reference. I went to Pacific Fabrics in Bremerton with my mom and we picked out two wonderful fabrics. The bodice is blue with Route 66 images and the skirt is license plates, but each plate has a sewing or quilting reference on it.

The first car is my favorite a '67 Chevy El Camino. The bottom picture is me in front of my second favorite car a '55 Chevy Bel Air. Yes. I am a totally Chevy girl.

The best part about it was that while at the show someone walked up to me to say they loved my dress and that they saw it on Instagram. Then I got featured in Pacific Fabrics weekly newsletter. It's maybe a bit silly, but I was really excited about it.

I took a screen shot of the email. Yep. I'm a dork. It was still a total thrill.

Anyway. That gets me almost kind of sort of caught up. I think I've finished a couple of knitting projects, and I'm gotten a lot done on a cross stitch project. And of course I'm sewing another dress right now. But I will save those for another update. And hopefully it won't take me another three months to get around to it. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Random Weekend Thoughts

Of everything in my house I think my bed is my favorite. Beyond the obvious - it is comfy and sleeping is awesome - it is a perfect melding of my skills and my husbands. This weekend it is also causing me some philosophical mental ramblings.

You see, Husband made us an absolutely gorgeous headboard. He works for a company that makes custom live edge furniture. One week he had to go absolutely above and beyond to complete a project on time and as a thank you his boss gave him a piece of wood. For those of you not familiar with wood pricing, that is a much more generous gift then it seems. Neither of us really particularly cares for the aesthetics of live edge tables so he was thinking about just selling the wood, but that weekend Nick Offerman posted a live edge headboard on his Instagram and I actually liked it so I asked Husband to make me a headboard.

I love my headboard. It is beautiful and unique and suits us and our room. I adore it. I want that to be really clear.

I think I am jealous of the headboard.

Husband and I just moved so we have been giving a lot of the "grand tour" as people see our new house for the first time. Often when we have guests they ask "can I see the bedroom? I want to see the headboard." Or "Is this the headboard?" Which is great. I want Husband to get the praise and acknowledgment that he deserves because woodworking requires a great deal of knowledge and skill.

But just once I wish someone would walk in and ask "is this the wedding quilt?" Or "Did you knit this blanket?" Or even "did you make your pillows?" See, Husband made the headboard, but I made our bed skirt.

And our pillows.

And a quilt.

And a blanket.

And our curtains.

But I feel like my contributions to our household go largely ignored. Even though, hour for hour, I've got somewhere between twice to four times as much invested in our bed, that damn headboard steals the show. Today I've been thinking about why that is. I know that some of it is that most of our guy friends are also woodworkers so they are just straight up more interested in the headboard. Also, most of them are manly men who don't feel like beds need to be made pretty with pillows and blankets. However, that doesn't explain why our non-woodworker friends who like well decorated houses are more interested in the furniture then the soft goods. What might explain it is:

quilting and knitting are considered grandmotherly and apparently we no longer have respect for the skills of our grandmothers. I've been told more than once that I am too young to knit. Conversely I have also been told that it's a shame I don't want children because it's clear from my love of sewing that I would be a great mother. I don't even known how to follow the leap of logic on that one. My point is that my crafts are inextricably linked to maternity for a lot of people and being maternal isn't really highly prized. It should be, but it just isn't. Therefore the traits associated with maternity are also not highly prized. They aren't seen as real skills because being a parent isn't seen as a real skill ("any idiot can have a baby"). Never mind that sewing and parenthood are in no way actually connected skills.
Knitting and sewing are seen as a waste of time. No kidding, I got into an argument with a total stranger in a bar a couple of months ago because he told me asking for more than $20 for a hand knit hat was "Insane" I told him that a basic hat would take me a minimum of five hours and didn't I deserve to be paid for my time? He argued no, on the grounds that I "would be knitting anyway." Turns out he was a professional welder so I asked him to spend five hours welding me something because he would be welding anyway. He said no because welding was a "real skill. And beanies can be purchased for $2, so $20 was more then generous." He was an ass, but he also demonstrated two great points. Because knitting is portable and often done while multitasking it is seen as a way of wasting time. It is perceived as entertainment not work and no one is going to pay you to watch TV.
And cloth goods are cheap. The monetary value of woodworking has been driven down in recent decades by places like IKEA and other cheap sources of furniture, but not as much as cheap Chinese goods and fast fashion have driven down the perceived value of blankets, pillows, sweaters, clothes ect. When I look at the quilt on the foot of my bed I see a useable link to my grandmother, I see a continuation of skills that have been practiced for hundreds of years. I see memories from my wedding. What other people see is a pile of fabric you could buy at Sears for $60. I am often ask why I bother making anything myself when it can be so cheaply purchased.

So I shouldn't be surprised that the headboard is the show stopper of my bedroom, but every once in a while I want someone to ask me if I knitted the blanket on the bed and gasp "Wow, how many hours did that take you?" Without implying that it was a waste of all those hours because I could have just bought one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Log Cabin Quilt

My Grandmother passed away a couple of years ago now and I inherited several unfinished quilt tops from her. I am not really much of a quilter so I've been a bit afraid to do anything with the quilts. I don't want to ruin them. But having them sitting around taking up space in my craft room isn't a good use of them either, so in November I got up the gumption to actually work on one of them.

I started with my least favorite (although I still like it) of the tops, it a log cabin style made from truly awful double knit polyester. The fabric just screams 70s, but I do really like the colors. I felt like the quilt was busy enough on it's own that I didn't want to distract from it with quilting, so I decided to do a tied quilt instead.

I've never actually made a tied quilt before though so I enlisted my mother-in-law to help me out.

On our last visit to her house I brought the backing, some poly batting and the top and laid is all out and pinned it on her dining room table.

She has awesome curved safety pins that made the whole process much easier. 

And then we started tying it all together. The poly batting that I chose required tying or quilting every 5 inches and naturally I had 6 inches in between the center of each square so I decided to tie in the center of each little red square as well as the corners between each block. 

Although it didn't take anywhere near as long as quilting it would have, it was still a fairly time consuming process. But I got it done. I bound the edge using white bias binding left over from my last quilt. 

Ta-Da! It's a twin size quilt so it doesn't really fit on my bed. As I get more of these tops quilted I would like to display them on a quilt ladder or something like that. Most of them are twin sized and thus not going to work on my queen size bed, but I don't mind. It's a nice way for me to stay close to my grandmother.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Wow, it's been a while since I wrote anything. I've been super busy but not getting a lot of sewing done recently. I just finished moving and I am very happy to say that I now have an entire room for my crafting supplies. Living the dream y'all! Tomorrow I will be reveling in that craft room sewing curtains for the house. In the mean time the only thing that I have sewed in the last two months that I haven't written about yet was new pillows for the bed to go with the beautiful headboard that my husband made for us.

Isn't it a great headboard? My husband is just the most wonderfully talented person on the planet!!!

But I was going to talk about the pillows. I'm pretty happy with them. The fabric came out of my stash. I already had the pillow forms but the old cases on them did not look good with our new quilt. The white fabric came from my grandmother originally and has a wonderful white on white check pattern. I like the nice subtle visual interest. The longer middle pillow is a blue and white check that one of my knitting friends gave me when they moved. And the small pillow is the same floral cotton left over from my self drafted a-line skirt. It is also in a couple of the triangles in the quilt. I feel like it all ties together pretty nicely.

So, one of my personal preferences for pillows is that they not have visible seams. For these I did French seams on two long and one short side (because even though they will never be visible I wanted them to be neat and tidy seams). For the remaining side I hand-stitched the pillow shut using what I think is most often called a ladder stitch. 

I like it because you work from the outside but it is invisible. 

I was going to post a little photo tutorial about how I did it, but apparently my phone doesn't feel like cooperating because I can't get the photos to load. Oh well. They were not good pictures anyway. It's really hard to take a picture while also using both hands to sew. One of these days I might have to invest in a tri-pod and a video camera instead. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Achievement Unlocked: Bras!

When I started on this journey of a me-made wardrobe I wanted to get to the point where I made every stitch of clothing that I had on at any given point. The two things that made that seem difficult were pants and bras. Well I have a couple of pants patterns ready and waiting for me and I just finished making my second bra!

It turns out that, although intimidating, bras are actually fairly easy. It took me a long time to work my way up to actually making one though.

First I bought the pattern and a couple of kits. Then I let those sit for a couple months while I caught up on other projects. Finally at Thankgiving I bought the Craftsy class on bra making. I am really glad I bought the class (and even happier I waited for it to be on sale). Following along with the class made it really easy to figure out otherwise difficult steps.

And ta-da! My first bra:

I should probably have put it against a dark background so the picture popped a little more. Oh well. The fit on my very first attempt was good enough to wear, but not perfect. Fortunately the Crafsty class goes through how to fix fit issues, although this one I could have figured out on my own. 

This biggest issue was that I had extra fabric in the power bar, so I just cut the pattern and overlapped it about 1/4" and that solved that problem. The band also felt a little snug so I lengthened it 1/2" my new one feels just a little loose so I think on my third I will only lengthen the back by 1/4"

I think that might be the most intimidating issue of bra making, that something as little as 1/8" or 1/4" inch can totally change the fit. 

Here is my second bra:

I am so in love with the colors on this one! 

It's even fun on the inside!

So, in addition to the changes for fit I also got bolder with the lace. On the first bra I put the lace exactly where the pattern said to put lace. (By the way it's the Shelly bra pattern by Pin-up Girls in case I haven't mentioned that yet). For the second bra I sewed the cups and basically draped lace on them to figure out how I wanted to arrange it. I'm pretty happy with the result and it allowed me to use the cute neckline trim that came with my kit. I didn't use the neckline trim on the first bra because it had lace on the neckline edge of the cups, but I was just so enjoying that fuchsia I had to use it on the second bra.

It isn't quite the "butterfly lace" pattern that Beveryly Johnson recommends in the Craftsy class but I think it came out really pretty.

One word of caution: Check the heat on your iron before pressing. I sew almost entirely with natural fibers so I tend to crank the heat pretty high on my iron. Bra fabrics are mostly nylon and polyester though. I thought I had turned the heat down low enough on my iron but clearly I didn't because I managed to melt the power net for my back band. Oops!

Fortunately the kits from Bra Maker's Supply and really generous with the fabrics. I think I have enough fabric for two more bras, I just need mor underwire and elastics. So I was able to cut out a new back band piece and away I went but it was still a pout worthy moment.

All's well that ends well though and I have two pretty me-made bras! I am so happy with this newly acquired skill. I cannot wait to make more!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Quilted Skirt

Two posts in two days, it's a miracle! Actually it's just that my husband got me a new computer for my birthday so I'm trying to get (and maybe even stay) caught up. Blogging is so much easier when you have a computer that actually works.

And speaking of birthdays, my wonderful mother-in-law got me Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. I think my love affair with Gertie's designs is pretty well established at this point. The book has a lot of really cute patterns in it. I am really looking forward to trying out the pants pattern. It doesn't have a fly front so it's a bit less intimidating then making jeans, but will give me the chance to practice fitting pants. 

But before I takle the pants pattern I made one of the skirts.

This is the Quilted Skirt from the book. Gertie's suggested using flannel for the inside layer, but being a true Pacific Northwest girl I put the flannel on the outside! The plaid pattern also made quilting it a total breeze, I just threw on my walking foot and bisected the squares on the plaid. Here is a close up of the quilting:

Having squares already there to follow made it super easy and saved me all of the time of marking the quilting lines. Otherwise this skirt would have taken hours longer to make.

I totally love the finished skirt. I think the drape in wonderful and it's super warm and cozy. I think I'm just going to live in this skirt for the rest of the winter. I might even make more in other colors.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Salvedged Skirt

I love Halloween more than any other holiday of the year. I was really excited this year to dress up as a "Mad Housewife" like the image on one of my favorite wines. I picked out a cute 50's vintage pattern from McCall's and some inexpensive dark purple cotton. I borrowed Mom's purls and made those cute lace gloves from this post.

And it all went downhill from there.

It ended up not really mattering because I had a migraine on Halloween and didn't dress up or go out, but man was my dress just one problem after another.

First Jo-Ann's shorted me a yard of fabric. We all know that cotton shrinks, which is why it is important to pre-wash garment fabric, but even the store admitted that I wouldn't have lost more than a yard to shrinkage, but they also wouldn't do anything about it because I had already washed the fabric. I was a bit miffed to say the least.

So I bought two more yards of fabric to be able to lay out the remaining pieces. The new piece wasn't from the same dye lot, so even though I doubt anyone else would have noticed I was very aware that the front bodice and sleeves were a different shade than the back bodice and skirt. Grrrr.

So I get to the sewing the dress together part and it has a side zipper so I did a French seam on all but the left side seam, where I did a clean seam. Or at least that's what I was planning on doing. Somewhere I got turned around and ended up with a clean seam on the left side of my bodice and a French seam of the left side of my skirt, so I couldn't install the zipper on either side without undoing at least one French seam.

But that turned out not to matter because the dress was so big that I didn't even need the zipper to get it on and off.

So I put in the back of my sewing chair in time out while I tried to figure out how to salvage it.

At the end of the day I decided that I wasn't over fond of the neckline either, so I chopped off the entire bodice. There was just to much fabric used to not try and get something out of it.

I think the skirt came out pretty darn cute. To solve the issue of it being too big, and the zipper being on the wrong side I cut up the center of the skirt and added a button band. By folding over 1/4" and then another inch on each side I got rid of the 2.5" extra inches, it didn't pull the side seams to noticeably far forward and I think the buttons are really pretty. Then I just added a waistband, hemmed it and called it good.

Here is a close up on the buttons. I added 12 of them, going all the way down the front of the skirt.

I wore the skirt for thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws house and I felt very pretty! So all is well that ends well, even if it was sort of a pain in the patootie.