Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How did this happen?

Last night, I had plans to go see a movie, but then my friend cancelled. This was good, as I got back from work quite late, and was just looking forward to lounging around pointlessly.

I'd sewn a few seams on the pink shirt, but was feeling too lazy to actually finish it. (Plus, I need to go buy the right colored top-stiching thread.) So, I was pulling fabric out of my stash, looking for something I could make a wearable muslin with.

Here's the traumatic part: I pulled out some fabric - but I have no memory of how this came into my life. It is really pretty, shades of pink, green and black. It is relatively new, I think. (In the stash for less than a year.) But that's it. I can't remember if it was a present, or if I bought it, or anything.

Ahem. This is rather sad. I am either (a) losing my mind or (b) buying too much fabric.

I can't solve (a), but for (b), I have the new stash rule: 3 things sewn for every 1 purchased.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vintage Vogue 9118 - finished

I love my mother, but wow, she takes dreadful pictures. How can a real live person be worse than my tripod? Mom - would you like to comment?

Anyway, dreadful pictures aside, here's the Vogue dress that I talked about here.

This dress came together with a minimum of fuss. The only painful things - cutting the dress out (the fabric is very slippery) and the fact that this fabric frayed like the devil. I've done french seams in the past, but I was looking for easy, so I settled for liberal applications of fray-check. Easy beats right in my book, evidently.

(Further proof of laziness - I should have lined this dress. Instead, I'm wearing it with a half-slip, which is too long, and therefore I've bunched around my waist for this photo. You can see proof in the first picture - that bulge around my waist is not a flaw of the dress or my figure - that's my slip. Sigh.)

May I say - I feel very Miss Moneypenny in this dress.

Here's a close-up of the neck. The ties can either be worn as a bow, as shown, or just loosely tied.

I do need some kind of belt, but I have 1 skinny belt, and it is red, which won't work with this dress. An excuse to go shopping, perhaps, ahead of Me-Made-May?

Oh, and can I wear this to work, do you think?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Me-Made-May - the planning stages

I took everything I'd made that was still wearable and laid them out on the bed, in preparation for Me-Made-May. I don't tend to sew a lot of basics, so I was afraid I'd have a lot of tops, a lot of skirts, and nothing would match with anything else.

My fears are not unfounded. These are the tops. Do you see a nice solid in there? Cause I sure don't.

And these are the skirts. I have 3 solid skirts, and a zillion prints. Houston, we have a problem.

I have one or two work-appropriate dresses, but that won't help me survive for the month.

I was freaking out a bit after that, so I took some deep breaths and tried putting a few unexpected outfits together. I'm reasonably boring in my dressing, and don't layer well at all. These outfits involve going significantly outside my comfort zone.

This is my comfort zone. Black tanktop (McCalls, I think, from ages ago, if someone cares, I can look it up) and colored skirt (also McCalls, I think, I never reviewed this, and again, I can look it up if anyone cares.)

And these two outfits involve me layering in unexpected (to me) ways.

Butterick wrap shirt, worn over a Simplicity dress (that I never reviewed.) I'm not sure if I look pregnant here, feel free to tell me? (And no, I'm not pregnant, of course.)

Black McCalls shirt worn over a Vogue dress (with a store-bought belt, which I've decided is ok.) The Vogue dress is not work appropriate, but I'm hoping that by covering the cleavage up with the shirt, I can wear this to work.

That's it for now. I think I'll survive if I make myself a white top of some kind, and a black skirt? Hopefully?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meeting my first blogger!

What a fun couple of weeks I've been having, with parties, beer (and corresponding sewing accidents, and yes, Kristy, I did think it was hilarious!), fabric, etc.

And right in the middle of all that fun was my first real-live-meeting with a fellow blogger. Tricia was going to be in Toronto, I offered to go fabric shopping with her.

Meeting Tricia was really fun, and discussing sewing with someone is so cool! None of my friends sew, and so I don't get to have sewing conversations with anyone. We talked about Tricia's pant muslins, current projects (look at this Christening dress!), stash, other people's projects, how prolific other sewers seemed to be compared to us, and so on and so forth.

Then we went fabric shopping. How it was supposed to work was, I was going to tag along, and watch Tricia shop. (My stash is out of control!) How it ended up working instead - I bought some really pretty Italian satin, with huge tiger lilies on it. It is really pretty, I *should* use it promptly this summer. (It was also more expensive than the fabric I usually buy, and I'm therefore going to make that rarest-of-rare-things, a muslin.)

So much fun in an afternoon! (Tricia's blogpost is here.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Causing inspiration

Most of my family is very structured in their crafting. My mom and cousin for example like to go shopping for all the supplies for a quilt, follow a pattern, and then make it. I am *significantly* less structured, I find fabric, I start piecing, and if it looks terrible, all I've wasted is time.

However, my waste-not quilt caused great stirrings in my family. My cousin was so inspired that she pulled out her stash, asked me how I made this quilt, and promptly got to work.

I'm so pleased! I inspired my cousin to actually use the bits and pieces in her stash.

And look how pretty her quilt is!

This quilt is made using the Roundabout pattern in the Piece and Play book by Judy Martin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Up Next - A very pink shirt

I'm using one of my new McCalls patterns - M6035 above. I made a friend bring me 8 patterns when she was visiting - nice! I feel like I should use one of them. Me-Made-May is making me focus on sewing basics for a bit.

I'm actually making the pink shirt view, which is view C, I think. Except without the collar, as in the black & white shirt view (just the under-collar.) Why no collar? The obvious reason - I ran out of fabric, aargh. I'm using a solid pink fabric that I bought in India (fourth picture, third fabric from left in this post). I'd bought a yard and a quarter, from what I remember, and I'm a tiny bit short. Ah well. Leaving out the collar will probably make it easier to sew anyway.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simplicity 3503

Here's the dress (Simplicity 3503, view B), this time with the seams sewn on properly. (I haven't hemmed it yet, but this is a nice, casual dress, I'm not sure if I'm really going to bother.)

This was a nice, easy knit dress. It had 5 pattern pieces, the sewing was easy, and it came together in a couple of evenings. Plus, I really like this style, it feels casual, yet pretty. The fabric is something I bought in Fabricland about two years ago? I used some of it for this dress, but I still have enough to make a top, I think.

Minor quibble (1) - a super low neckline = wear a tanktop underneath. Since I'm participating in Me-Made-May, I need to sew myself a tanktop if I intend to wear this dress next month.

Minor quibble (2) - the back neck edge in particular gapes quite badly. The instructions had me fold and stitch the neck edge. I *know* better, I should have used clear elastic there somewhere. Ah well. These are probably the kinds of things some serious steaming will solve, and if not, then the kind of thing only a fellow sewer will notice. (Or so I tell myself.)

Parting shot:

It was my birthday yesterday. I had an awesome weekend really, much partying was done. (And a friend even gave me fabric as a gift, awwww....) On Saturday night was the party for which I was hoping to have time to sew. I didn't have time to sew, of course, but I did wear my vintage McCalls dress and it got many compliments. Here's a picture of me wearing it - with brown tights and boots, to make it slightly warmer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why I shouldn't sew after beer.

Exhibit A.

I will now go and rip some seams.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Taking the plunge - Me Made May

When I first read about Me Made March on Zoe's blog, I thought it was the most brilliant idea. An entire month of wearing nothing other than what you sew.

Now, Zoe's come up with the participation-encouraged Me-Made-May, and I'm (taking a deep breath) going to join.

But with two slight caveats.

(1) Zoe's rules are: everything must be made by her, with the exception of bras, socks, tights and shoes. I'm changing that up for me: to my list of exceptions, I'm adding panties, scarves and (importantly) outerwear. Toronto has unpredictable weather, I've never sewn a coat, and do not have time to get it right before the end of April. I've no desire to be cold all the time either.

(2) I'm giving myself 3 get-out-of-jail cards, to be used through the month. These are for times when I break the rules. I've a fair bit of work travel for my job, and there are occasions where I might just have to look a little more formal than my sewn-wardrobe allows.

But with above caveats, I'm in. This will be exciting, I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The "Expensive Gym Membership" Effect

aka: Why I should stop buying fabric.

This excellent post on the Happiness Project really resonated with me.

I've been in a spate of pattern-buying recently, and before this, fabric. The fabric was relatively justifiable - I haven't been to India in years, and it was hard to resist amazingly good fabric, since I knew I wouldn't be back for a couple of years, at least.

But the pattern buying? No justification whatsover. I bought 5 patterns from Vogue. I've asked a friend to bring me another 6 McCalls patterns. Every month this year, I've spent $11 on Burda. I've made 0 patterns.

I'm too weak to call my friend and cancel the McCalls pattern order. But. Before I buy the next pattern, I'll wonder if what I really should be doing instead is making time to sew.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sewing updates, and a zillion other thoughts...

I'm hoping I can put in some serious time tonight on my Vogue dress. So far, I've sewn the side seams and the shoulder seams, I've basted in the zipper, but the back is a bit puffy. My theory is that it is puffing because it doesn't fit well, plus the fabric is too thin and the weight of the zipper is causing it to sag. So, I need to unpick the zipper, interface the fabric around the zipper, and then pin it in place before I baste it again.

What's left on the dress?
- The above mentioned zipper thing.
- Adjusting the side seams a bit - the fit needs a tiny bit of tweaking.
- Inserting the collar.
- Setting in sleeves.
- Hemming.

Ok, so, atleast for me, more than an evening's work.

Now, for the zillion other thoughts.

Thought 1: I managed to sew 30 minutes this weekend.

Yup. An entire 30.

This is ridiculous, people. All I seem to do nowadays is cook. The Madhur Jaffrey project is driving me crazy.

(There, I said it out loud.)

Although, the sad bit is, I do enjoy cooking. A little less cooking would, however, be nice. Or rather, a bit more time for sewing would be nice.

Thought 2: I really want to sew a birthday dress. My birthday is next Monday, but Saturday's the day I'm hanging out with friends. So, I want a dress for Saturday.

The problem? Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? Plans all three evenings. All of which involve beer. I'm not going to sew after drinking beer (for obvious, rotary-cutter-can-cause-serious-damage reasons). So, I might find 30 minutes each day to sew. I cannot make a dress in 1.5 hours.

The dress I want to make - a dark, navy-blue cotton version of http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&reviewnum=49340. View C below, with no sleeves.

It isn't a difficult dress, I just have no time.

Friday? A friend is in town for the weekend. She's driving down from Michigan for my birthday. I'll be hanging out with her, not sewing.


Thought 3: Lately, my sewing has been really scattered and incohesive. Nothing matches anything else, and therefore, I have nothing to wear. So, here's a resolution - using the navy blue to create some basics. I want to sew:

- The above described M5466 dress.
- A jacket and a pencil skirt.
- Pants.

I also want to sew:

- A spring coat.
- A couple of print skirts - but importantly, with matching jackets. I can pull off a pretty skirt for work, like this one, as long as it is anchored by a serious-looking jacket of some kind.
- And about a zillion more things, really.

Friday, April 09, 2010

New additions to the sewing library

I've a small, but growing collection of sewing books. (As I write this, I pause to reflect that at one time, I barely had a stash. Sigh. Must prevent stash of sewing books.)

I recently added three books to this.

I'm really excited by these three. I browsed through David Coffin's books when I requested them from the library, but I quickly realized I wanted to own these.

The Tailoring Jacket book was a bit of an impulse buy, but I was browsing through it a couple nights ago (classic bedtime reading, don't you think?), and I think its pretty awesome. It talks about things like notched collars, pad stitching, welt pockets, etc - stuff that's scattered through the Internet, and nice to have in one place.

Full disclosure: For what it is worth, I'm an Amazon affiliate. If you click on the links above, and buy the books, I'll get a tiny little bit of money. (Like a penny or something.) I actually don't care about this tiny bit of money, so feel free to shop anywhere you want.

(If you do buy through Amazon, be warned that the pant-making book takes forever to ship, and you'll be very impatient by the time it gets to you. Ask me how I know.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Using it all up

I tend to think of my fabric in little collections.

For example, pictured above is the collection I've mentally called the "1-meter fabrics my mom got me from India." (Yes, the name is very *literal*. Some work is required.)

Two years after acquisition, I've finally used it all up. Two skirts, one shirt, a tiny bit less in stash.

Reviews/blog entries for the individual pieces - here, here and here.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Butterick 4799 - the red top

Here's the top I finished over the weekend.

My mom bought me this fabric from India over two years ago. This was in pre-garment-sewing days, I asked her to buy me a meter. I just made it work here - my ties are pieced together to be the right length.

This isn't quite the shirt I wanted to make. That shirt was longer, the neckline was *much* more work-appropriate, and the sleeves were puffed.

Moral of the story? Try a different pattern.

However, I do like this shirt. Perhaps worn with a camisole. Or a better bra.

And I'm pretty sure that it won't lead to little children (or my family) pointing towards me and laughing, so that's good.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Up Next

More vintage sewing. I'm intrigued by this dress.

I'm using this dark blue fabric that my aunt gave me as a present over a year ago. (Closer to two, come to think of it.) Its high time I pulled it out and made it up.

The pattern is also from my aunt, from my last vacation to India. She's already cut it out, yay! Now, I just need to do my standard petite alterations, cut it out and sew it up. I'm hopeful that it will get done by the weekend. (Fingers and toes crossed.)

Why I didn't sew very much this weekend?

One reason - a certain Biscuit was playing paperweight. Awww, adorable.

Long weekend cooking

Read more here about the Madhur Jaffrey project - one of my 2010 goals. For an index of recipes, click here.

I didn't do much sewing this weekend (but did finish up the shirt, photos tomorrow...) But I certainly did a lot of cooking.

First, two South Indian breakfasts. I only get a chance to eat breakfast on weekends, but I love making breakfast - there's something about cooking, while drinking a cup of coffee that feels really relaxing to me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010 Breakfast: Uppama with South-Indian coconut chutney

Sunday, April 4, 2010 Breakfast: Rice-flour dosas with mustard seeds and black pepper (with South-Indian coconut chutney again)

And then, the rest. I've rice and sprouted-beans to last me through the week. These two recipes take forever to make - I sprouted the beans myself. Started soaking on Friday, finished making up the dish Sunday night. Insane!

April 2, 2010 - Ek handi na dal chaval (Rice and dal, cooked in one pot)

April 4, 2010 - Sprouted mung beans cooked with mustard seeds

April 3, 2010 - Dry North Indian Dip

I also made eggs pulusu, and while eating it, ran into my first major hurdle with this project. I can't abide hard-boiled eggs. I grew up vegetarian, and I've only very recently started eating eggs. I like them scrambled, and I like omelettes, but that's it. So, I choked down my eggs pulusu, but I might have to skip the hard-boiled egg recipes. (Not to mention the quail eggs recipes - quail, really?)

April 3, 2010 - Eggs pulusu

Friday, April 02, 2010

Two tasty days

Read more here about the Madhur Jaffrey project - one of my 2010 goals. For an index of recipes, click here.

Ahem. I better pick up the cooking pace dramatically. The latest count - I've 377 recipes left to cook in about 35 weeks. That is a staggering 10.8 recipes a week. Eeks!

Anyway - last night, I was exhausted (I'd just come back from my first yoga class, and I quickly made myself some mushrooms, and ate with naan. It was very yummy, but then, I was stuffed, and I blew off evening plans and just sat lazily on couch instead. Is that a good thing?

April 1, 2010 - Dinner: Sauced mushrooms with sesame seeds, store-bought naan

What a nice, lazy morning I've had so far. I woke up late, sauntered into the kitchen, and while drinking coffee, got a few recipes started (pre-soaking, mostly.) And I made my first-ever Filipino meal.

Ok, I know I use the words tasty, yummy and delish excessively, but this meal was all three rolled into one. (Here's a meat-based version of the recipe - reasonably close to the version I used - except I didn't use any fish sauce, coconut or pork, of course.)

April 2, 2010 Lunch - Rice with Garlic, Mongo (Mung beans with spinach and tomatoes)

One final dish, that I ate through the week with store-bought naan was a yogurt and spinach dish. It was Middle-Eastern, and really tasted similar to the commercial spinach dip (the one with spinach, mayo and water-chestnuts?). Except healthy, of course, since it was made with yogurt.

I made this dish because I had both thawed out frozen spinach in the frig and parsley. I can never go through an entire bunch of parsley, it usually goes bad before I get to use it all, and I was looking for ways to use it. (Still looking, I've a goodish bit still to use up.)

Tuesday, March 30 dinner - Yogurt with spinach and parsley