Monday, March 24, 2014

Misc Shenanigans

Hi readers!  My sewing queue has been quiet for a little while, let me explain what's up.

First I went on a glorious and overdue trip to Florida to visit my family.  I got to spend time with the mouse, not to mention sunshine, and it was wonderful.

When I got home, I promptly came down with The Epic Cold of 2014.  I was miserable for another week.  Like, not a few crappy days and a few not great days, but I mean a full week of super craptacular days.  It wasn't fun.  I'm still coughing up a lung.  Being on the mend is exhausting, and I can't say I've wanted to do much besides lay on my couch.

Finally we reach today.  I have recovered some energy and my brain has cleared enough that I can function again!  However, there is another issue on the horizon.  Due to personal adventures coming up this year, I am cutting back on selfish sewing.  I am looking for projects to do for other people and have offered my services out to Facebook friends and family.  I have a couple bites, so hopefully something will come of those!

In the meantime, I still have a Coco on my to-do list.  I have the pattern, fabric, and even thread.  I just need to get around to making it.  I'm basically copying the gorgeous aqua funnel neck version that Tilly models.  So pretty!  Retro!  Yay!!

Also, now that Spring is around the corner I can finally start to think about making my Jasmine top again.  Last summer I bought pretty turquoise with white polka dot fabric from Gertie's Etsy shop and a nice white cotton for the contrast pieces.  I love the design but honestly I'm a little nervous that once I make it I will never wear it.  I'm anxious that it won't fit me properly.  I guess that's the point of sewing and fitting.  I should probably make a muslin first to check the fit.  Yeah.  That would be wise.

My mom and I on the monorail, on our way to the Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Making a Frame Bag

A friend of mine saw on Facebook that I've been sewing up a storm and asked if I could sew together a frame bag for his bike.  Sure, why not?!

Google, of course, is a wealth of knowledge and he had already done a lot of research and knew what he wanted.  I had him make a card board cut out of the space where this bag could go.  He actually went about five steps further and indicated exactly where the zippers should go and where the velcro should go.  After a quick meeting I was able to get all the information I needed to make the perfect bag for him.

With the cut out I was able to create pattern pieces on Swedish Tracing Paper.  I then made a sort of muslin of the bag not only to make sure I was competent in assembling this thing, but also to measure how much fabric we needed.
I have to say, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I used a new technique illustrated in a book my mother in law gave me for Christmas to make a darted inner pocket.  This created a pocket with depth so things like a cell phone and keys.

I used Cordura 500 Denier fabric and heavy duty sport zippers.  There is 2" velcro on all sides for him to attach the bag to his bike.  My friend requested three pockets, the small one I mentioned above, a large main pocket and a lower pocket for tools and such.  Some frame bags have a velcro piece to separate these pockets, but he didn't need to have the option of combining the inner pockets.  My friend also requested a nice patch to be attached on either side for a bit of personalization.  I wasn't sure if my little Brother could handle this, in addition to the thick Cordura 500D fabric, but it handled like a dream.  All is takes is the right needle!  (With this knowledge, I just might revive my Haunted Mansion purse!)  We purchased most of the supplies from

Wanna see pictures of my masterpiece?!
Look how bravely he faces the snow!
Get me from my good side, darling.
Another addition I made to the bag was I lined the side panels and slipped thick pieces of foam between the layers to provide structure to the bag.  I am mighty proud of this bag.  I truly hope it is nice and durable, but time shall tell.  My friend also sent me a picture of the bag uniting with it's life partner:
Yes.  This I am proud of.  My friend has updated me to let me know the bag held all his belongings nicely during a long winter ride.


Cake Patterns Cabarita Top!

I've been eyeballing the Cake Patterns Riff Cabarita top for a while.  I already bought this adorable tonal knit from Girl Charlee just for this shirt.
I'm in love with this fabric.  It's gorgeous.  The color is hard to capture in a photo, so this swatch from Girl Charlee is the most accurate.

Cake's Riff pattern line is a condensed version of a pattern.  Simple instructions, plus the pattern.  Previous experience with knits (even better, experience with Cake Patterns) is recommended.  I wasn't 100% sure that I qualified for the project, but it didn't include any new techniques so I figured I would be okay.

Cake Patterns has an innovative sizing method where you basically trace your own size.  This keeps fitting adjustments to a minimum, which I think is pretty damn cool.  The bodies of women vary so widely, in size and shape and length and dimension, really Steph's patterns are quite genius.  This is exactly why I started sewing.  My body is so uniquely shaped that it can be hard to find off the rack clothes in the styles that I want.  Sewing allows for full customization.  What's not to love?

The only issue I had in making this top was attaching the collar.  Generally you pin right sides together, sew, then the seam gets tucked inside.  However the collar "rolls" and I was a little confused.  I think I did it right in the end, but we'll see how it wears.  Since my fabric is pretty lightweight I did add a lightweight interfacing to the collar.  I also handsewed a few tacks to keep the collar and the seam in the right place.  The collar is understitched to prevent the seam from rolling to the front, but I think the weight of the collar kept pulling it out anyway.

I also realized when I switched to my twin needle that I had been using my universal needle instead of a ballpoint.  Which explains why the stitches are a bit weird.  But, whatever.  It seems to be okay for now.

All in all, I made a top that is freaking adorbs and I love it!  I haven't gotten around to taking a legitimate picture, but I was growing impatient in posting this so here is a photo of me at work.  Here ya go:
I love this color so much that I bought a solid version for Tilly's new Coco pattern!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kitchen Makeover (Or How Not to DIY Chalk Paint)

 **We interrupt your regularly scheduled sewing blog post to bring you a post about a DIY project!**

Hubs and I bought our house last May, and I've HATED the color of our kitchen ever since we moved in.  We also have not been huge fans of the 80s Oak cabinets, but remodeling a kitchen is a HUGE expense.  So we decided to paint!  First, here is a before picture.

ACK! I hate that stupid blue.
(and yes, our christmas tree was still up thankyouverymuch.)
I've had paint chips up on the cabinets basically since the day we moved in.  So I revisited those colors, did some googling, and found all new colors.  We knew we wanted a wine color somewhere, and we had agreed we liked black cabinets.  Do you know how hard it is to find the right wine color?!?!?!  Then so many shades of black ... it's insane!  We (I) finally narrowed it down to these two gorgeous colors:
Benjamin Moore Crushed Velvet (in Satin) and Toucan Black (in flat).  I chose Toucan Black because it is a more complex black with purple tones.  It's gorgeous.  I saw Crushed Velvet and fell in love instantly.  The two together create magic.  It only took a couple days to make the final decision to go with these, then we dove right into the project.

Even before we moved into the house I had been looking at Chalk Paint for the cabinets.  Chalk paint sticks to anything with no prep or sanding, and (is supposed) to have a really unique to touch finish.  So I sent Hubs to the store to pick up Plaster of Paris so we could mix up our own chalk paint. I gave him a tutorial from the blogosphere and he did all the mixing and most of the painting. 

Enter #craftfail.  Now, I can't completely say that it was a fail because we actually love the final result.  But we're not entirely sure that the Plaster of Paris actually did anything.  Since we started with a flat finish paint, it was hard to tell if we also had the chalk paint effect.  I've never seen chalk paint in person I had no base to go off of.  What we did know was that we would paint the whole day, then find all the Plaster of Paris sitting at the bottom of the bucket.  Hubs had used some of this gritty paint before we realized what had happened, and he ended up having to sand those pieces down because it was like we had painted rocks on our cabinets.  Yuck.

So, I think our cabinets are not really chalk painted.  But we both love the flat, matte finish.  I had googled up and down how to seal or finish the chalk paint, and we all know that chalk paint is typically finished with soft wax.  But apparently waxing is not only a pain in the ass (especially on an entire set of kitchen cabinets), but it also can change the finish.  On top of that, it's not super durable for kitchen use and has to be re-waxed kind of frequently.  We are low maintenance type people, so that didn't sound very appealing to me.  It's important that we can wipe off the cabinets because Hubs SOME of us tend to make a mess in the kitchen when they we cook.

Enter problem #2.  We liked the flat finish and polyurethane usually comes in various levels of shiny, completely canceling out our lovely (and intentional) finish.

Enter solution!

I googled matte poly and found that there ARE flat finish varnishes, but almost no reviews on them.  

Enter reckless Sylvie!

As you should know by now, my method is part tutorial following, part just go with it.  I found Varathane has a polyurethane in Matte, with a special "soft touch" finish.
So, I dove in and bought the stuff and we slathered every inch of our kitchen cabinets in it.

**The heavens open and angels sing**

Guys.  My kitchen looks amazeballs.  Wanna see?
Yeah!  Tell me that's not sexy!

We also took off all the yucky brassy handles and grabbed some trusty old Rustoleum Paint+Primer spray paint along with a cardboard box and took those bitches outside.
We used the Dark Steel color and I think they look pretty freaking awesome.
whatever, I was too lazy to take a picture of my own can.
We also decided to paint our kitchen step stool in it, which is currently drying so there is no picture yet.

Huge props to Hubs for doing SUCH an AMAZING job!  It's incredible what a little paint can do to completely transform a kitchen on a limited budget.

To sum it all up, if you've been considering painting your kitchen cabinets, DOOOO IIIIIIIT!  You will never look back!

I'm a Spoolette!

During my internet "research" I've discovered a special elite social club for only the best of the best sewists from around the world.  Just kidding, I just asked and they let me in!

The Spoolettes was created by a few bloggers for sewists to come together, be friends, support each other, and all in all be awesome together.

I am so happy to be a Spoolette and would love to know if anyone out there is a Spoolette too!  Are you in my area?  We could totally do a meetup!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deer & Doe Plantain Shirt

Like all the cool kids in the blogosphere, I made a Plantain tshirt!

This is a free pattern released by French company Deer & Doe.  Unfortunately I never learned fluent French from my full blooded French grandmother.  Lucky for me, the pattern instructions come in both English and French.  Also lucky for me, the adjustments I needed for the pattern to fit me have already been covered by U&Mii!  The pattern only goes up to a European size 46, which would not fit my lovely chest ladies.  Nor my bodacious curvy hips.  So, I slashed and spread my way to a Plantain that fit.

I used this awesome two sided rayon blend jersey from Joanns.
It's SO SOFT and SO PRETTY.  It also comes in a bunch of colors.  Magic!  However!  It was kind of a PITA to do anything with.  It frayed in the wash.  Yes, a jersey that frayed.  It got little teal strings and fuzzies on the rest of my laundry.  I think it's because it's sort of two fabrics stuck together, and separately they are kind of flimsy.  So the edges frayed.  

Mary over at Idle Fancy made a super cute Lady Skater dress of this same fabric.  I took a page out of her book and used the polka dots as my "right side" but the stripes as coordinating pieces on the neckline and cuffs.

That brings me to another change I made to the Plantain shirt.  I'm not a fan of elbow patches, so I left them off, but to add more visual interest I did add cuffs to the sleeves.  I also shortened the 3/4 sleeve by about an inch to accommodate the lengths added by the cuffs.  I actually used my Lady Skater pattern piece for the cuffs and they fit perfectly.  

Because the Lady Skater instructions are basically genius when adding the neckline, so I used that technique to add the neckline.  If you haven't made a Lady Skater, the neckline is added flat instead of in the round.  It makes sewing the neckline on basically fool proof. Why take a risk and do it any other way?

I love the final product.  It's a comfy tshirt with enough room at the hem to hide imperfect bulges, while still flattering the figure.
So there you have it.  If you've never sewn with knits, this is a great place to start and you'll end up with a super cute every day shirt!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Butterick See & Sew B5870

There are three - count 'em, three - reviews of this pattern on the interwebs.
Obviously, besides how freaking adorable Sewmanju made it, I needed to add a review and pictures of my own to the world.

I think I stumbled across Sewmanju's version somewhere between googling the Lady Skater dress, and wool jersey.  I was looking for inspiration for wintery sewing stuffs, because as adorable as sun dresses are, they just aren't practical for me at the moment.  Here in Minnesota.  Just after surviving a Polar Vortex.

After my own Lady Skater dress, I fell in love with the idea of wearing cozy knit dresses with cozy fleece lined leggings or tights.  (Have you tried them?  They're both amazeballs.  And cozy balls.)  I wear my Lady Skater dress about as much as is socially acceptable and haven't gotten around to making more.  Yet...stay tuned.  This dress with a nice cozy cowl is just asking to be made with a nice weight knit and be worn with fleecy tights.  Okay, my mission is actually to make my wardrobe entirely of work-appropriate pajamas. 

I couldn't find wool jersey, at least in any sort of affordable price range, so I found an acai purple cotton knit from Girl Charlee.  It's a nice medium weight and should make a great winter dress.
As per the usual, as soon as I came home with my new pattern in hand I read through the instructions.  They're supposed to be easy but my copy had several typos and misprints.  Luckily this isn't my first knit dress and I'm getting fairly good at knowing how things are put together without completely sticking to the directions.

The pattern only called for 2 1/8 yards but I used EVERY BIT of my 3 yards.  I had to cut it out single layer in order to fit every piece.  Another challenge is this knit was very sneaky about which side was the right/wrong side.  Luckily I inspected each piece very carefully and the finished dress has every piece facing the proper direction.

The dress was coming along swimmingly until I came to an ABRUPT halt trying to figure out how to attach the damn cowl.  The instructions were ZERO help.  After staring at the pieces, pinning, unpinning, and trying them on for about half an hour, a light bulb went off and I turned to my BFF, Google, to find a tutorial for me. 

Let me just tell you, sewalongs are a GODSEND.  I found Tasia's Renfrew sewalong and was able to attach the cowl!!! 
 From there I would like to tell you it was easy... but it wasn't.  Nothing at the fault of the pattern, but my own lack of coordination/knowledge.

First I ran out of thread.  I was surprised at first, then I realized it was because I was stitching a double seam per the instructions.  Well, duh, that makes sense!

Next was the ongoing issue I was experiencing with my thread tension.  When I first started the project my upper thread was snapping, even with a super low tension.  I was eventually able to get it to sew, but the tension still wasn't right.  It seems like one side is too tight and one side is too loose.  I've tried playing with the tension and it's helped a bit, but not completely.  It's also skipping stitches.  So, here my inexperience shows itself because I don't know what to do!

On a happier note, this dress included my FIRST set in sleeve!  Really, this wasn't nearly as terrifying as I expected.

As for alterations, I actually kept the bodice entirely unaltered even though the pattern didn't go up to my size.  I added just a touch of width to the sleeves, and I added several inches to the hips to accommodate my booty.  I did about a 2" hem to bring up the length and it seems to hit almost the right spot for me.

Oh, you wanted to see the finished product?
I will eventually provide you with pictures taken by a real camera in my dressing room, but the room is still a work in progress.  Patience, my cats.  Oh, and you see that?!  FLEECE LEGGINGS!!!  Glorious.  Excellent winter work wear.  I only need to make 846 more uber comfy dresses!