Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My hands-down favorite thing about 2008?


Wishing all of you many Biscuits in 2009! Or puppies, or whatever makes you happy...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Last-minute Christmas presents

I was originally going to spend Christmas in Toronto, but decided, very last minute to spend it in Kalamazoo, MI with my friend Brian and his mom. This left me one evening to buy/make presents for both Brian and his mom...

I hate the mall, what can I say? The prospect of being at the mall on Dec 23 fighting the crowds was making me pale with horror. Besides, Brian was being unhelpful and refusing to tell me what he wanted (something about my driving all the way there being present enough, etc. Which is nice and sweet, but not helpful.)

So, crafting needed to come to the rescue.

Jan (Brian's mom) was relatively easy, if time-consuming. I decided I was going to make her a lap quilt. In one evening. Thankfully, all fabric, batting and backing could come from stash.

So, I pulled all my greens from the stash. I cut random rectangles at lunch (came home from work, I'm super-fortunate, I live a 5 minute walk from work.) That took about an hour to do. (Random is harder than it looks, and I wanted a good assortment of greens.)

Since it was Dec 23rd, everyone left work early, (yay!) and I came back home and continued. This is pretty simple piecing, you essentially piece all the rows at once, just adding the next piece for all the rows, more or less randomly. To get them all the same size, measure them once the rows are almost done, and trim off excess. (I hope that's clear? I took no action shots, was too busy sewing.)

I didn't have time for binding, etc, so I used the birthing method. Very simply quilted, just a line of quilting on either side of each row (my quilting skills are, to say the least, sloppy. I had to rip one row two times. Its any wonder I got it done.)

Total time taken - about 6-7 hours? Something like that. 1 hour to cut, 3 hours to piece the top, 45 minutes to sandwich, and do the birthing method, and 2 hours to quilt (most of that time was ripping that one row though, since there wasn't much quilting.)

And here's Jan, holding it up. She loved it, so all worth-while.

Brian - I racked my brains for this one. It would have been pajamas, except all my flannel (not much of it anyway) was at my parents, and I didn't have time to go get it. In the end, I finished a project I'd started over two years back. I stamped the lyrics to "One" on a pillowcase. It was fairly simple, but Brian really loved it, and is going to hang it on his wall.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I sure did, hanging out, eating yummy food (Jan's a great cook), drinking wine and coffee, finding boots at Macy's and buying a lot of fabric (separate post for that one). An excellent holiday break, and even if my heart is a little broken that the Patriots didn't make the playoffs, so what? Everything else was pretty awesome. (But, don't even get me started on the Jets. Really.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

While my batteries are charging, yet again...

Umm. I really need to buy new batteries. Or a new charger. Or both.

Last week, right after the cardigan from hell, I made myself a consolation prize - the quick & easy Butterick 4987 (now OOP).

(Note to self - next time, wear with a bra that is not blue. Although it was covered by a cardigan for the entire evening.)

Inspiration - Erica's fantastic version of this, way back from May. I bought the pattern shortly after seeing her version, and it has sat in my pattern stash ever since...

Fabric - a piece of print fabric bought at a thrift store. I loved the vintage feel of this print. I think I paid less than 50c for this. (I really miss that thrift store, it was in Michigan. Sigh.)

Instructions - worked well. I used them, since I had no idea how the ruffle actually worked. These instructions were clear and did the job.

Process - I cut a straight size 10, and took 2 inches off in the torso area. (The ruffle piece also has helpful lines where you are supposed to shorten, which made this a lot easier - without it I wouldn't have known where to shorten.)

This didn't take 2 hours to sew, although I did finish it in one evening.

Also, because I was trying to make this work with the fabric I had, rules about grain went out the window - the front piece was cut any which way to make it work. (The front piece, not the ruffle. That I cut as recommended, since I thought part of the fluidity of the ruffle would come from the bias.) My back facings are also from lining cloth - more of that make it work philosophy.

And in conclusion: Oh, how I love this top! I really, really, really love it. I think it looks super flattering on me, and I love that something that's so easy to sew looks so good. I wore it out the next day, despite the fact that it is freezing in Toronto.

Apologies for the crappy photo with no detail - this was an action shot, taken when I wore it out. I'll take better photos that show detail when the camera is back in commission.

(How I wore it most of the evening - under a black cardigan)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Free to a good home...

I just finished organizing all my patterns - they were starting to take over my apartment! (I also realized I have far too many patterns - no surprise there...)

Which means I've the following stack of patterns to offer - either duplicates or things I'll never make. I'll ship anywhere, but to minimize the hassle, please take a complete set, not just one.

Set 1 - Women's. (Duplicates, patterns are uncut)

Size K5 8-16

Size AAX 4-10

Set 2 - Kids (I thought I was going to sew for a friend's baby, then I realized I don't like to sew for other people... Too much work!)

Child 3-6

All sizes

All sizes (This one, I have opened, but I traced the pattern out, so it is still uncut)

So, if you want them, send me an email at reethij at gmail dot com or leave me a comment with some way to get in touch with you...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ramblings, WIP, etc

To solve my knit hem problem, I went to my local sewing store at lunch (I do realize how spoiled I am - a sewing machine/notions store is 2 minutes away from my workplace...) I asked for and bought the right needles for knits, while describing my problem to the lady at the counter, who told me I needed to be using a blind hem stitch for the knits. So, I ponied up for a blind hem foot as well. We'll see... I think it might be worth my while to practice first, but I view practice the same way I view muslins - what's the point, really? (Yes, yes, I know what the point is. But, I lack the work ethic. I'm working on it.)

Like I said in a previous post, I'm now making a jacket (the jacket above, actually.) (After you fail at sewing a simple cardigan, what do you take up next? A lined jacket, of course.) I'm trying to go very slowly, in a desire to avoid messing up. Sewing it in a grey wool-like fabric that's unravels like the devil, which makes me grateful its fully lined.

So far, I've made up the jacket body, set in the sleeves and basted the collar on. I've a stream of holiday related activities this weekend, which means I'll have limited sewing time. But the plan is to cut out the lining,(Ann has a great post on why you should do the lining first, which I unfortunately read too late...) and finish the jacket up over the weekend. (Umm. Wish me luck.)

I still have more of the grey fabric, which I wanted to make a pair of pants with. Tany's lastest pair of pants provided the best inspiration, so maybe that pattern?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pattern review - McCall 4923 (OOP)

One of the pieces of fabric I'd bought in November was this purple jersey knit. I thought it would serve as the perfect Endless Combinations piece 3. See, the rules say that the 3rd piece must go with piece 1 and 2. (Or so I think I read.) Well, since piece 1 was a top, and piece 2 was a skirt, piece 3 would have to be either a jacket or a cardigan, or some form of cover-up.

I am trying to make a jacket right now, but honestly, its so above my sewing skills that it just might be a total disaster. And I love twin-sets, I really do! They fall under mindless dressing for me - easy to wear, goes with anything, and costs a ton of money in stores! (Why? I've never understood it. Is it because only working women wear twinsets, and the assumption is that they have plenty of money to buy them?)

I digress. Back to the cardigan. I didn't measure (serves me right) but I assumed I'd be a small at the top, and a medium at the hip. Nope - this cardigan HANGS off me. I went back and took some volume off the side seams at the hip, but still too loose.

I could live with the fitting issues, since they aren't really that bad, if it wasn't for the one major flaw - the hem! The stretching! Aaargh. Totally my fault, of course, strategic use of interfacing, the right needle, the right tension, all might have solved this. But no, I boldly dove into this, using no interfacing, a heavy-weight needle (what was I thinking?????) and with nary an adjustment to any tension.

Let's put it this way. This cardigan isn't a complete disaster, and it will get worn. But it is so flawed! I can't fix this, but I will re-try this pattern very soon, because I insist on learning how to do a knit hem without the stretch.

(Incidentally, I bought a meter and a half, and had I bought another 1/2 a meter, I'd have enough for both the shell and the cardigan. I'm just short of fabric by the tiniest amount! Good to know!)

Is this Endless Combinations piece 3? Dunno. Maybe. Depends on whether I can make another in time, I think.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sewing ADD

My sewing area looks like a bomb hit it! I have so many projects on the go right now, it isn't even funny.

1. Vintage Simplicity dress - I need to cut out lining, sew lining, attach lining, put in zipper. This one's off to the side because I really don't like this dress. Still, halfway finished dresses are pretty useless, so I might as well finish it, and it could grow on me. Maybe.

2. A quilt. In green & brown. I'm making the blocks right now.

3. A jacket! Grey wool-like fabric. I cut the fashion fabric out last night, still need to cut out lining & interfacing.

I'm sure there's more! I just can't remember what right now.

Deep breath. Calm. Serenity.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pay it forward

Gwen, of After the Dress, posted this - and I was one of the first three commenters.

She is going to send me something hand-crafted during the next 365 days. Yay!

So, passing this on, I'm posting the same offer on my blog. I will send out something handmade to the first three commenters on this post - sometime within the next year. If you want to play along, you need to be willing to make the same offer on your blog.

Like Gwen, I don't have any ideas what type of something I'll make, so I'm open to suggestions! I've actually made a lot of crafty things and even posted them here in the past, so it might help...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Endless Combinations - piece 2

The second piece - Simplicity 5914

More stash sewing! Both the pattern and fabric were part of the stash. I have no idea when I bought the pattern, but the fabric was bought last winter at my local Fabricland. Remnant bin find - $1.60. The only thing I bought for this project was a zipper.

I made a size 12, which is a tiny bit snug (though I might have also made a sewing error, and switched the side panels around). Its wearable though.

One change I made - I fully lined the skirt, as it is meant for winter, plus the wool/wool blend will make me itch otherwise (not a professional look.) To make the lining, I used the pattern pieces minus the width of the facing, and attached the facing to the lining.

I was surprised at how much the skirt flares out - I didn't get that from the pattern picture. Also, I thought I'd love this skirt - I have a RTW skirt that's very similar, and I wear it near constantly. But, I really don't. I like it well enough though, and it will get worn.

And, endless combinations piece 1 & 2 together...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I do sew...

But my camera's batteries are dead (note to self - buy new camera batteries, sheesh!), so all I have to share are more quilting photos, from Sunday.

Like I've said before, my parents are leaving for a trip to India tomorrow, and my mom's been making quilt tops pretty frantically in order to get them quilted in India (where it is cheap to get quilt tops quilted.)

This last Sunday and the Sunday before, I helped her with this quilt. And by helped, I mean, cut most of the squares, piece 28 of the 81 squares, cut the border, layout the squares into quilt form, and attach the squares into rows. My mom owes me!

Inspiration was the quilt on the cover of Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Sun: 20 Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting. This is a perfect go-to pattern if you want to make a king-size quilt top in a few days.

The quilt uses some of my stash of Nigerian fabric. (My mom really owes me, I parted with my fabric, kicking and screaming.) This is a housewarming present from my parents to one of their friends. (Note the degrees of separation here.) Ah well. My parents are going to India, so for the next 5 weeks, there'll be none of this forced labor. Grin.