Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Finished Project: Loose Silk Dress

I am so happy to announce this project's end.  It was a super simple pattern, but this fabric had me in a state for months!

I had ordered 1 metre of this lush silk form Blackbird Fabrics the day she announced her shop open.

Can't you just feel it's amazingness through the screen?
And I hemmed and hawed over what to do with it.  The problem was that (in rather typical Mandykatt fashion) I read the part of the description that said the boarder print was only along one selvage, not both, and promptly forgot it.  This means that the top I was daydreaming about wasn't going to work unless I did the back without the boarder print, because 1m will not wrap all the way around me in a way that would be useful for a garment.

I really tried to not let it bother me that the back and front would be different.  I laid out the pattern pieces several times and tried to be very zen about it all.  But I couldn't.  There was no help for it, I should have ordered 1.5m at the start because now I couldn't just order .5m, I needed a full metre more.  Let that be a lesson to me about thriftiness!  Buying 1.5 in the first place would have saved me money over having to order a second cut.

At the beginning of January I was tired of petting my fabric and knew I had to use it right away.  So I ordered my second metre and found a pattern that would let me use as much of the fabric as possible. I decided that Butterick 5815 would work well.


It's not my usual style, but looked like a great choice as the loose style would allow the silk to drape and flow while providing the right amount of wearing ease.  Silk does not stretch! I'm new to the world of silk, and am having some trouble getting used to it's firmness.  Cotton has some give to it even when it's closely fitted, but silk does not.  I popped the darts in my silk taffeta dress I made for a Christmas party when I sat down in my car to drive there!  Lesson learned.

Note to self: next time, remove socks and put on some shoes.
Photos taken before hemming.
Ta-Da! These are the usual indoor just-finished photos, but I do hope to take proper shots as soon as I recruit a willing photographer.

It was actually so warm here on Monday that I was able to slap on some leggings and go out for the afternoon in this dress.  No sweater, no jacket.  I think it was 13C.

The pattern has only four pieces, front, back (identical to the front except the neckline is 2cm higher), sleeve front and sleeve back.  There are no shoulder seams, just an overlap and the neckline and sleeve edges are done with a rolled hem.  I did the majority of this dress on Friday afternoon, then finished it up on Monday morning.  All that's left is to add lingerie straps to the shoulders and it's done.

Mistakes?  sigh yes.  My one sleeve hem is uneven so I'll likely redo it.  Also, I may have put the sleeves on the wrong arms.  Maybe.  I'll admit that one only after I try it on backwards to see if that feels better.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

When I started sewing

I feel like this should be a superhero origins story or something. I've been sewing for 2/3 of my life!

When I was 9, I joined Girl Guides and needed to sew badges on my sash.  I asked my mum to show me how to hand sew.  She had grown up in rural Newfoundland without modern conveniences of any sort, so had started making items the family needed from a very young age.  She was proficient in knitting, sewing, rug hooking, fishing net tying, and all sorts of other handcrafts. When she left home at 16 she promptly turned her back on all that and embraced the modern life.  She still remembers how to do things like work her sewing machine, whipstitch by hand, cast on, knit, and cast off. So she was able to start me on these things and I had to learn more on my own.

I sewed all my badges on my Guide sash and some odds and ends of craft projects by hand.  In grade 7 we took family studies class where we had our first formal instruction in sewing machine use.  I made a stuffed lizard. That was it, I was hooked! Several other small, patternless projects happened after that.  Hallowe'en bags, pillow cases, patching jeans, etc.

In grade 10 I took Fashion class.  I was super excited to be able to take a family studies class that was only about sewing!  My first pattern was a wrap skirt.  Four darts, two seams, a waistband, side hems, and bottom hem.  Easy stuff.
Simplicity 2572 in all it's 1999 styling.
I used a tie-dye orange quilting cotton with little gold foil hearts on it.  Eye-searingly bright.

My second project was a little more ambitious. The JNCO jeans were so cool, but so expensive, and totally something I lusted after.

Ah yes, pants for twelve.
These were only sold in Toronto, and were nearly $200 a pair. So I made my own.

McCall's 2360 to the rescue!
I'll scan in the finished project photo tomorrow as a Throw Back Thursday.  It was amazing.

This established me as a talented sewist among my family and friends and influenced me in taking another sewing class in my OAC year.  I was the last class to have OAC (Grade 13 or University preparatory year) so under the new curriculum my grade 10 sewing class was now a grade 11 sewing class.  Technically, I had already taken the class, but I was allowed to take it again since it had a new course number and counted as a new credit.  I sewed a terrible purse, and then my prom dress.  I was the top of the class and would have earned a scholarship had I went directly into sewing from there.  I chose sciences instead, so the scholarship went the next in line.

Out of high school, I worked at Fabricland, then in a mall tailor shop when I first moved to Vancouver.  I learned so many things in the three months I was in the tailor shop, it's crazy.

Now that the internet is the treasure trove of information that it is, if I need to learn a new sewing technique, or something isn't working out quite right with a pattern, I can just Google it and have solutions or answers almost instantly.  What an amazing time to be a maker.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Jalie underwear

Sewing underwear is one of those odd things you never really think about until the need arises. Underwear is mostly affordable and easy to find.  I've sewn some for myself partly because I think it's a brilliant way to use up scraps, old t-shirts, or worn through pyjamas, and partly because I will be sewing my own bras soon, so knickers just seems a natural progression.  So I bought Jalie 3242 mostly because it's economy was seductive. "Look Honey!  I can take all those old, worn out Metallica t-shirts you refuse to throw out and make you boxers! And I can make underwear for the kids! Isn't this a great idea!?" Spart is never keen on anything I refer to as a "great idea".  Seems to be a red flag for him.

After a couple weeks of fighting with our nearly five year old son (I shall call him Aki which is the Greek affection for "little man") over the merits of wearing underwear, I took him to the store and had him pick out some ones he wanted. Instead of the ones with Lego on them that he had at home, he wanted ones with "little legs".  Ah.  Alright then.  I had major sticker shock over them as the boxers and trunks were roughly $6 a pair, whereas the briefs were less than $2 a pair.  So we went to Fabricland to buy some waistband elastic instead.

I had about 4 metres of a green interlock at home that I had picked up for $3 last summer at an Our Social Fabric sale (textile recycling sale of amazingness), already had green thread and some wooly nylon for the bobbin with the double needle, so I was all set.


Front view

Back view
Voila! In a single afternoon I had 7 pairs of small boy underwear made. Aki tried them on, declared he loved them, and reminded me that green is his favourite colour, and then proceeded to tell everyone who would listen that I made underwear for him. Perhaps not polite conversation, but he's now wearing underwear, so I'm going with it.

I thought these trunks were really clever.  The only seam, other than the inseam, is at the front with the pouch, so they are super quick and easy to put together. I used my serger for the seams and a double ballpoint needle with wooly nylon bobbin thread for the topstitching. A quick blast with the iron to coax the threads into relaxation, and they were ready to wear.

At least with so many sizes in one pattern, if I'm stuck sewing him underwear for many years I'll never have to buy another pattern.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Sheep in the bathtub

Last summer, I decided I wanted to make myself some stuffies.  Maybe a pincushion or two as well.  As it goes it, my plan went something like this:

  • I bought new sewing pins that are super great, I should make them an equally fabulous pin cushion.
  • What does one use to stuff a pincushion?  Wouldn't poly-fibrefill be squeaky?
  • Wool!  Wool is always a good answer!
  • Where does one buy wool for stuffing?
  • *google* Hmm... that looks expensive.  And ... processed.
  • I should look for a local farm and order some wool and then I can wash it, and comb it, and even take up needle felting with it!  That sounds awesome!
  • Here's a farm on Vancouver Island that sells raw fleeces.  Perfect!
  • *after e-mail correspondence with farmer* No, I don't want a Queen size batt done up already, that would take the fun out of it.  Washing wool totally looks easy, if a little labour intensive.
  • *wool arrives*  Gah, why does my house smell like barn?  Oh...
  • *first bit of wool soaking in the laundry sink*  What have I gotten myself into?
After washing the first little bit of wool in my laundry sink, I used it all to make my pincushion.  Then I slid the rest of the box of fleece into a corner of my craft room with a promise to "get to it later".  Come December, I moved my daughter into the craft room, and my craft stuff into my bedroom.  The box of fleece remained in the hallway as I steadfastly ignored it.
Earlier this week, the cats finally took an interest in the sheepy smelling box, and I knew it was time to deal with it.  So, in an ever optimistic move, I dumped the whole box into the bathtub.
Cubic wool!

Then I hosed 'er down with the showerhead.  I'm not going to be spinning this wool, so I wasn't too careful about it felting on me.  Ick.
What a horrible shade of brown that water is.

Then I spread it all out to try and saturate the whole thing, and started imaging a sheep lounging in the bathtub.
Image taken from Vicki Stirling's children's literature blog, Originally from Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.
My bathroom still smells of wet sheep.
I then shoved all the wool into large lingerie bags so it was easier to handle.  After four baths with Dawn dish soap, the water was much clearer.  I then took a bottle of 2-in-1 shampoo that I didn't really like for myself and dumped in a fifth bath.  I left that to soak while I took a nap, then rinsed and drained and squeezed it all out.
Now it's been drying in my bathroom for 2 days.  And I need to buy some hand carders.
These ones from Birkeland Bros. will do nicely.
Imagine if I should want a wool dress!  I'd start in the fabric store, decide I don't quite like the colour of a fabric, think about dying it, then decide that the weave isn't quite the right density making the hand of the fabric all wrong, so I should just weave my own, then an hour later I'd be in out in a pasture, shears in hand going after a fluffy sheep.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Jalie Jeans

One day, I will get my hands on a proper camera and tripod.  Today is not that day though, so here are more poor quality, indoor cell phone photos.


Here they are from the front.



The back with simple cat detail on the pockets.


And the leftover quilting cotton I used to line the front pockets.

As mentioned, I cut at least two sizes too large.  This was my first Jalie pattern, and I seem to have a habit of making stretch clothing too large.  In my head, I think I like having 0 ease, but in reality, I like about -2" of ease.  I did remember that with the dress I made just before Christmas, but then forgot with these jeans.  One day I'll get it. 

I am in love with this fabric though.  It's a stretch denim I bought from Fabricana a few months ago when I decided I hated my ready to wear jeans.  The wrong side looks like yoga pants, and the outside feels more like flannel than denim.  I think I'll have to buy more and make up Closet Case File's Ginger Jeans with it.

I used the jeans and pants essential notions from Thread Theory and really liked the quality of the button and rivets.  I think my favourite part of making jeans is how much a hammer is involved.  When I worked at a tailor shop, I used to do most of the jean hems so the more complicated things could go to the other seamsters.  When hemming so as to keep the original hem on the jeans, we removed the hem, opened it up, and reattached it (like bias tape) to the bottom of the shortened jeans.  Since the inseams would usually be 12 layers thick, I had to take a hammer to them and try to flatten it down to get under the needle.  Made me feel a bit bad-ass to do that.

I tried to shrink the jeans in the wash, but was unsuccessful.  I even put them in the dryer (spandex hates the heat so retaliates by shrinking), but no dice.  Oh well, it's all good.

Next up on the sewing table is some Jalie underwear for the boy.  He's stubbornly decided that he doesn't like briefs, so I will sew him a few pairs of boxer-briefs to see if he'll wear them.  Good thing I already bought Jalie 3242 as I was going to sew some knickers for myself with it.  Good pattern bargain that one.  Underwear for the whole family in one pattern!  Does that sound kinda overboard to anyone else?  Like, "sane people buy underwear for their kids, not make it".  Oh well, sanity has it's limits anyway.

I also have a Vogue pattern out that I'm trying very hard to fit on a piece of merino wool jersey I bought in the summer.  It's not working too well right now, so I may have to buy more.  The store had lots left the last time I was in a couple weeks ago, so I am sure they'll still have it next week.  I could just admit it's not going to fly and move on, but that's not really my style.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Crafting summary of 2014

My husband, who is sensitive to having his information available on the internet, shall be referred to as Spartacus, or Spart for short.

Spart was able to revive my phone long enough to get my photos off it and then did a hard reset.  I detest having to change my phone to all my preferred settings again, but at least it's fully functional now.  Spart's phone did the same thing to him last week, except he can't connect a cable due to bent prongs so he lost all his data.  It would have been an absolute tragedy to me to lose every single photo either of us took over the last two years.  As it is, he had all the Halloween photos of the kids.  Oh well, better some than none.

Here is a quick run through of the craft projects I did in 2014.  I picked up sewing again after a 5 year break and fell deeply into the couture sewing side.  I went through a quick stamp carving revival (having learned it in grade 10 art class) and am currently running through my library's collection on fabric/fibre dying.  I knit only a couple things, learned to cross stitch, and did a bit of embroidery.  I baked, tried to cook (and mostly failed at that).  I took my first serious try at fondant cake decorating and really enjoyed it.  And I sewed, sewed, sewed. These are all photos taken on my phone and usually in poor lighting.  Sorry for that, I will get better at taking photos as I go on.

 Antler Cardigan - Gift


 My first cross stitch pattern.  Kit from Michael's.

 Smocked toddler dress - no pattern, just a tube with hand smocking

 Similar dress, with machine shirring to gather the bodice.  - Gifts (I made 2)

 Hand painted tattoo illusion nylons.  This was fun, I'll do this again.  Tutorial on BurdaStyle

 Patches made using hand-carved stamps. These were great to fix the knees in all the hand-me-down jeans we received for our son.  I think I fixed 6 pairs in this manner.

 Summer dress using Tanit-Isis' sundress pattern.  Love this one.

 Blue Sky Alpaca Cottons kimono Wrap baby cardigan. - Gift

 Worhol Dress decorated with the hand carved stamps used above.

 Butterick 4790 Walk Away dress

 Machine mounted Pin cushion

 Freezer Paper stenciled library book bag.

Sewaholic Pendrell blouse - Gift.  Cat fabric from Spoonflower




 Simplicity 2152 Skirt from silk taffeta.

 Style Arc Zoe Pencil Skirt


 Fondant decorated birthday cake.

 Failure - Pin Up girls bra.  I put the band in the wrong place.  This was a tragic reminder to not cut out a pattern 3 weeks before you sew it.  I completely mussed this one up.


 Amerson Knickers from woven fabric.  These remind me of babydoll pyjama bottoms.  They're surprisingly comfortable.  

 Make Bra Free Hipster pattern from an old t-shirt and some Fold-over elastic.  Also comfy,but a little higher than I like to wear.  Easy to fix.


The bedding for the doll cradle we gave our daughter at Christmas.  I cut down an old pillow to fit, then used fabric from my stash to make a pillowcase style cover for it.  The quilt looks a lot like a placemat to me.  But it fits her dolls wonderfully and it took me much more effort than expected to find that silly cradle.  Who knew a low wooden doll cradle was hard to find?