Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm going to have to wake up early tomorrow morning... finish up my recycle/reconstruction entry for the PR contest... All I've done so far is cut it out. Good news - it is Simplicity 4036, which goes together very quickly.

It feels very Anthropologie, which I like, but since it is thin cotton from India, it is also spring/summer wear. And it is most certainly not spring/summer here. I need to start sewing winter clothes. (I'm wearing the same set of 3 lined pants pretty much all the time, so it is definitely time to make some lined pants.)

Some great entries in this contest so far. Trena's hat blew me away, Dawn made a really cute top, and I'm in awe at this coat.

I don't need an alarm though, to wake up early. Biscuit is the most effective alarm clock - she jumps on my tummy at 5.30am, and yells at me till I pet her. Once I wake up, of course, she wants nothing more to do with me. Spoilt little monkey! (My parents, who struggled to wake me up for school for at least 12 years think this is the funniest thing in the world.)

I'm glad its Friday! Last week at work was very busy, this week has been super-slow. Super-slow weeks are very frustrating for me, and I much prefer them fast-paced.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In the Pink

"In the Pink" quilt top - made with leftover fabric from this dress, from a tablecloth I made for a friend and some stash white (hopefully, I have enough left over for the project I bought it for.)

The final quilt top for the never-seen triplets.

Started Sunday the 25th, finished Monday the 26th.

Now I just need to quilt an entire weekend, to get all the quilts done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

40 & 40 in 60

Start perfectly random post

I'm not a tidy person. In fact, I'm quite possibly the world's messiest person. And, I'm an incredible pack rat.

One of my resolutions this year, (as it is nearly every year) is to try to be neater/tidier. To try to do that, I've been doing this thing most of January I call 40 in 40. (Or 15 in 15, or any number in same number.)

Basically, I put away 40 things in 40 minutes.

I really like this, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, and as long as I don't mess up more than 40 things a day, I'm actually making improvement. Eventually, I'll get to that clean apartment.

Now, since I avoid cleaning and tidying like the plague, I count magazines as individual items. Those 10 Burdas that are on my bed, for nighttime browsing? 10 items. I'm looking for quick wins.

That's the basic 40 in 40.

Adding a twist is the de-cluttering portion, which I did today. Basically, it went - put 40 things away, and find 40 things to get rid of in 60 minutes.

Obviously, I'd rather tidy than throw away things, because while I easily put away 40 things, when it came to stuff for Goodwill or whatever, I had 16. I need to work harder at this.

Anyway, feel free to adopt that method, if it helps. Oh, and I always appreciate tips/tricks when it comes to cleaning. Trust me, I'm hopeless.

End perfectly random post

Sewing pattern review - BWOF 12-2008-113/114

I'm at my parents this weekend, along with Biscuit, as my cousin is visiting. They have a lot of floor space, which is great for tracing BWOF patterns.

Not a lot of tracing got done, between hanging out with family, and preventing Biscuit from walking on the pattern sheets. However, I did manage to trace out and sew BWOF 12_2008_113/114.

Way back in the time tunnel, when I made this dress, I had enough of the fabric left over to do something, except I didn't know what. Since my new goal is to use stuff up, I pulled it back out, and made this top from it. I keep calling it 113/114 since it is a hybrid - it has the length of the top, but the shorter sleeves of the dress (all I had fabric for.)

Since I had a dress with the same fabric, and its pretty distinctive, I made this top for my mom. We are about the same size for shirts, so I just fit it to me, and it also works on my mom. Nice! (Plus, I can borrow it from her.)

Fabric: Fabricland - remnant from the dress. It was about $5 a meter (finally, real money!) I had about 3/4 of a meter for this, so about $4.

Pattern: BWOF 12-2008-113/114.

Pattern adjustments: I cut a size 38, my standard BWOF top size. Omitted the hem allowance, as well as took 1.5 inches off the length above the waist, to petite-size it.

Cost: Fabric - $4. Pattern, $11, since I've made NOTHING else from this BWOF, (or for that matter, all the BWOFs since September.) I also need to apply the "use it or lose it" principle to the magazines. Total $15. Finally, a number more than $5.

Time taken:
Not long at all. 2 hours to sew, about an hour to trace. (Half of which was spent playing with Biscuit.)

Good things:
Yes, I said I'd give this to my mom, and yes, I will, but I think this top looks amazing on me. I love it! I'm definitely going to make more, and quickly. It hides the extra pounds without looking like it is trying to. Love!

Bad things:
I'm giving it to my mom. Ah well. Atleast I'm being nice.

Gratuitous cat shots: Sorry, can't resist. Biscuit wanted to join the photo shoot. She doesn't really like being picked up, and yet she's picked up all the time, she's too cute to resist.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sewing pattern review - Simplicity 4036

As promised, photos of the red suede skirt. And a full review, since I've evidently never reviewed this, despite this being my go-to A-line skirt pattern.

The inspiration for this skirt really came from this post.
I loved the entire look, and was determined to replicate it. (Which I did to dinner last night.)

Thrift store. I think I bought this in my bag-making days, to try to make a handbag. That obviously didn't happen, which was great, since I wanted to make a red skirt... Paid $1? $2? This skirt is fully lined - lining fabric, $0.50 a meter when a local store was getting rid of its apparel fabric line.

Pattern: Simplicity 4036 - now OOP. I've used this pattern before, tons of times. In fact, this was the first pattern I used when I started to sew, way back in June/July 2007. Still using it, which indicates how much I love it.

Pattern adjustments: I cut a size 12, my standard bottom size. (Its a bit snug, indicating its time to go see what that 'gym/exercise' thing is, that people keep talking about.)

Apart from length adjustments, the other thing I do with this pattern is set my zipper at the side seam, and cut the center back on the fold (subtracting 5/8" for the seam allowance.)

Also, for this pattern, when lining, I omit the facings, cut the front & back pieces with lining, and understitch the lining similar to the way I'd understitch the facing. Since I hate (irrationally) facings, this works very well.

Notions: One invisible zipper.

Fabric - $2.50. Pattern, $2, though I've used it enough times that realistically this should be 40c (or less.) Zipper - $1. - In all, $5.50. (The joy of sewing from stash, as well as making a really cool, fun skirt? Priceless.

Time taken:
Not long. I do my sewing in spurts, so it is hard to track. Around 2-3 hours.

Good things:

Its a red skirt! How cool! It fits well, works as both a work skirt as well as a going out skirt, depending on how I accessorize, and my harshest critic (the youngest brother) approved.

Bad things:
See above comment about losing weight. Also, one of my back darts is a tiny bit wonky. I never tuck in, so it doesn't matter. Besides, only a fellow sewist would even notice.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A post with no photos...

Sorry! I've decided I really hate the lighting in my apartment. I think my photos come out grainy and dim. I'm currently on the hunt for a tripod and an external flash...

A lot of people are talking about sewing resolutions. I don't have very many specific sewing resolutions, but I do have three general principles that I'd like to follow this year -

1. Use it or lose it: I have wool/craft stuff/lots of fabric that is just sitting there. I'd like to pare this down. No indiscriminate tossing out of the stash, but I'd really like to end 2009 with a lot less stuff than I have in 2008.

2. Finish the UFOs: This is really a subset of the first one, but I have a ton of projects where all I have to do is hem, or put in a zipper, or whatever. There's no excuse to not finish that stuff at all.

3. Do things other than sewing: I read a great blog post on Crossroad Knits called Resolved (via Carolyn, thanks!) and it really struck a chord with me. There's a lot of other stuff I'd like to do in my life, some fun, some less fun, and sewing can suck up incredible amounts of time. I want to sew less, plan my wardrobe more, and make each piece count.

Sewing since the last post:

1. Made a red suede skirt with Simplicity 4036. This is my go-to pattern for a simple A line skirt - why is it out of print? It is fully lined, and with boots is warm enough to wear in fall & winter. (I live VERY close to work, so that helps.)

2. Cut out 2 other versions of Simplicity 4036, while I had the pattern out. One in a peach swirl print, the other in a chocolate brown cotton. (In prep for summer.) Both were remnants, so I'm pleased that I used them. But does my wardrobe need another two skirts? Probably not.

3. Decided to enter the Refashion contest on PatternReview. Again with the using stuff, I bought some pillowcases over 5 years ago in India, but they were the wrong size - they didn't fit any North American pillow. (Indian pillows are smaller, who knew?) Because the fabric was absolutely beatiful, I've been carrying those pillowcases, through atleast 3 moves. I finally ripped them out last night to make a skirt - they'll be yet another version of Simplicity 4036.

4. Finished 2 UFOs. This blue knit top, that just needed to be hemmed, and khakis, made using Simplicity 4135, that also just needed to be hemmed. Both have been in the UFO list for atleast a year, so I'm proud of myself.

Pics to follow - I'm hanging out at my parents tonight and tomorrow, so I'll get one of them to take a few pictures.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Two quilt tops...

I owe my parents big-time. They brought me meters and meters of fabric from India. (Eye candy photos to follow this weekend.)

So, when my mom mentioned she wanted to make baby quilts for a friend who'd had triplets, I willingly (for a change) volunteered to help.

The first two - over the last two evenings...

This one I already had part of the blocks left over from another project. Hence, easy.

And this one, inspired by this quilt

I'm not looking forward to the actual quilting though.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sewing review - McCalls 4923

I feel like I'm on fire. Its been a difficult work week, but I've managed to come back home and do something sewing related most days this week. Granted, I've clothes to put away, laundry to do, etc, but I'll get to it on the weekend.

Fabric: A great find from WalMart's $1 bin - a printed cotton knit. I bought 2.5 yards? I really liked this printed knit, it is cotton, I think, and the fabric felt very cheerful.

Pattern: McCalls 4923 - now OOP. I've used this pattern a few times before, here and here. This time, I made both the shell and the cardigan using the same fabric, so Twin-set! (I actually find very few cardigan patterns, for some reason. Dunno why, twinsets are always ridiculously expensive, RTW, and I'd make as many of them as I can find fabric for.)

Pattern adjustments: Standard pattern adjustments - took 2 inches off the torso. I also adjusted the shell to finish the neck and edges using binding, vs using a knit lining.

5 blue buttons, from stash. These buttons actually came off this fabric - yay for reusing!

Cost: Fabric - $2.50. Pattern, $2 - but I've used it a few times before, so, in reality, less. And buttons, from stash.In all, under $5. (This does seem to be a recurrent theme with me, but its mostly because I'm sewing from stash, and for the longest time, I wouldn't buy very expensive fabric, since I didn't want to fail on expensive fabric.)

Time taken: About 4-5 hours? It was broken up in chunks on two evenings, Tuesday evening I cut and sewed the easy seams, and then, today, I finished up.

Good things:

1. I love the fabric, and it went together quickly.
2. It fits well.
3. I'll get a ton of use out of this.
4. I managed to avoid the hem stretching too much. I'm not sure if this was because of the fabric, or using the right needle, or whatever. I still think I need to practice this more, so I can be generally sure of not screwing up.

Bad things:
None, baby. I love this.

The grand conclusion? Pleased as punch.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The view from my sewing machine

Biscuit loves the spool of thread. And knocking my pin cushion off the table. And watching exactly what I'm up to.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sewing review - Simplicity 3566

Whoa there! Cut, sewn and reviewed in one evening? Wow. (Yeah, laundry didn't get done. Whatever. I rather have a shirt.)

Fabric: A Joann remnant bin find from the last shopping trip on the weekend after Christmas. There was 0.8 yards, and it cost $1.50 or so.

Pattern: Simplicity 3566 - view C.

Pattern adjustments:
Very little - just took 2 inches off the torso (lower front piece, and back, the pattern had lines on where to adjust.)

1 black invisible zipper, from stash.

Cost: Fabric - $1.50. Pattern, either $1 or $2, bought during pattern sales. Zipper, $1. In all, under $5.

Time taken: About 3 hours, not including the time taken to cut the pattern tissue.

Good things:

1. Well, I like the fabric.
2. It went together very quickly.
3. I used a tip from RTW, I put in the zipper so it opens upward, not downward, and the open ends are at the hip. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, I love that - usually the zipper under my arm makes me itch.

Bad things:
1. I cut a size 10, grading to a size 12 at the waist & hip. But the top feels tight at the bust. I think its because this fabric is a medium weight.
2. There's a weird lumping of fabric around my waist? I have no idea why - it is especially bad on the non-zipper side, so it isn't my zipper insertion skills. It isn't too tight at the hip either, so I really don't know why. (Off grain cutting? That's all I can think of.)

The grand conclusion? I'm a little blah on this top (because of the lumping thing). But, it will get worn - its very perfect under sweaters and the like.

1st project of 2009 - McCall 5629

Although this project was cut in 2008, finishing it took a back seat to last minute Christmas presents. Jan 1st, I had some time to kill, so I pulled it to the forefront, and told myself to finish it already.

Ah, how I love this fabric. Its some kind of synthetic, but it feels very soft and touchable. My aunt bought me the fabric from India (I love fabric presents!) I think all my relatives are very, very afraid I'm going to steal their saris, and are buying me fabric in an effort to keep me out of their closets.

(Live action shot - actually showing the colors of the fabric. So pretty!)

Pattern: McCall 5629. There's only 1 other review of this on PatternReview, and I'm convinced the reason is the TERRIBLE pattern photo. I'm sorry, the photo makes the top look shapeless and simply horrible.

If I didn't have an RTW top that has similar lines, and that fits me well, I would have never either bought the pattern, or made it up.

Pattern adjustments:
I adjusted the heck out of this pattern to try to ensure the top fitted me, and I didn't look pregnant.

1. Since it was apparent this was not a fitted top, I went down a size. My normal McCall size is a 10 on top, I went down to an 8.

2. Did my usual petite-sizing, which involves taking 2 inches at torso (helpfully marked by the pattern lines. I also wanted this top to hit at my hip, so I cut length on the hem till it did so.

3. The biggest piece of alteration was to get the pattern to be more fitted. According to the finished garment measurements, the lower edge width of this top is 52 inches. Whoa! Sensing complete shapelessness, I took 2 inches of width off the bottom from each piece. This results in a total of 8 inches taken off, leading to the much more manageable finished edge width of 44 inches.

There also appeared to be too much ease at bust, so I (rather daringly) took 1 inch off the armsycle, 4 inches total. Since I'd adjusted the armsycle, I also adjusted the sleeve to take some width off.

See the diagram below - its easier to see what I did this way. My changes are in pink.

Notions: 3 black buttons, from stash.

Cost: Well, the fabric was a gift. The notions and pattern was from stash, so we'll call this a free top. More usefully though, the fabric sells for about $1 a meter, and I used about 2 meters. The buttons cost $1. I would have paid either $1.99 or $0.99 for the pattern, since I only buy patterns when they are on sale. Total cost therefore, $5, approximately.

Time taken: 3-4 hours? Wasn't keeping very close track, since I was also cleaning and watching TV at the same time.

Good things:

1. Did I say I love the fabric? I love the fabric.
2. I also love that I don't look pregnant, thanks to the alternations I made.
3. It went together fairly quickly.
4. The instructions have you form the casing out of the yoke and the yoke facing, which is pretty clever.

(Ties left undone - sexy!)

Bad things:
1. My own fault, but if I had stopped to do the math, I'd have realized that subtracting 4 inches from a finished bust size of 37 would lead to 33 - which is my bust size. No bust ease, which causes the yoke to ride up a bit. The busy print thankfully conceals most of this, but I know its there.
2. I think the tie is too thick. I like skinny ties.
3. How puffy are these sleeves? I was actually going for the view C, the flutter sleeves, till I set in the sleeves and realized they looked RIDICULOUS. Doing a quick save, I inserted some elastic to gather them instead. But, too puffy. And I even took 2 inches off the width. Way too puffy.

The grand conclusion? I'll reach for this top a lot. It has some flaws, but its easy to wear, the color works on me, and I love the fabric.