Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing Hooky

I played hooky yesterday, readers. Instead of coming home and dutifully cooking or sewing (in frantic preparation for SS-Sept), I changed into walking-friendly shoes, took advantage of the amazing warmth, and went for a nice, two-hour urban stroll. Awesome!

While we are on the subject of playing hooky, last Monday, our entire team at work went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a team event. Lunch followed by a wine and chocolate tasting. Yum!!!! This team event actually took the *entire* day, and seriously, what an amazing way to start the week?!!

There were pretty flowers and beautifully landscaped gardens...

And rows of vines...

Of course, I found the wine barrels the most fascinating.

Looking at the photos again, I want to go back. Perhaps next Monday?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Self-Stitched September!!!

'I, Reethi, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavor to wear only handmade and refashioned items of clothing every day for the duration of September 2010'.

Yes, dear Readers, I am officially insane.

Ok, let's add some guidelines, shall we?

- Just like the last time, I'm officially excluding outer-wear. Tail end of September in Toronto? Nope, my sheer cardigans won't quite cut it.

- Also just like last time, I'm officially allowing myself 3 freebies - days that I can wear RTW. (On the off-chance something at work will crop up that I'll have to wear a suit to.)

For the record, I sat on the fence about Self-Stitched September for months. Yes, I had a total blast in May, but then again, I've done a huge wardrobe purge since then, getting rid of the things I'm not thrilled about, etc. As a result, I'm afraid that every one of my outfits will look home-made and/or did-she-dress-in-the-dark?

But then I remembered, Me-Made-May really helped me sew in a more coordinated way, think more creatively about outfits, and had a wonderful community feel to it, and really, there was no way to sit this one out.

So yeah, I'm in!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Using up yardage

Before I started sewing garments, I spent a ridiculous amount of time making bags. Boring, boring tote bags, but the projects were a good fit for the minuscule amount of time I had to sew.

Right in the middle of this, Jo-ann's was discontinuing a lot of their home decor fabric, and the sample squares were up for sale for something like 50c. I went a little crazy, and bought loads of these, and ever since, I've tried to find clever ways to use some of this stuff up.

The reason I'm telling this story? Yesterday evening, I decided that my fabric was in desperate need of organization. I pulled every bit of fabric out from the closet, and found still more of this home dec fabric. I don't really make bags any more, but I don't like giving away my fabric, so I needed a quick, easy project that would use all of them up.

So I made a simple bed cover. Voila!

I still need to attach a back cloth to it, but don't have anything suitable - but I know my mom has some sheets she's bought to use as back cloths for quilts, so I'll go steal one of those when I visit.

Now, off to clear the last bit of that mess, and also off to cook some dinner. I've a busy week ahead, and some food in the refrigerator will be super-useful in the coming days.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Proof of Concept - A Cardigan

I've been incredibly inspired by the lovely cardigans Yoshimi and Carolyn have made recently, and I decided to retry cardigan making, despite my last dreadful failure.

So, Friday night, once the skirt was done, I took a t-shirt pattern (an old Butterick, I need to look it up) and went to work. I didn't cut the center front on the fold, obviously, and added an inch and a half to the center front. I finished the neck edges and the center front with the magic Jalie method (it is magic, trust me.) I also hand-hemmed the hem and the sleeves, to prevent any stretching.

And look! A cardigan.

This fabric doesn't have a lot of stretch to it, and I think I need to add more than an inch and a half to the center front, so this doesn't quite close. No worries - I used a purple pin to hold the front together.

I'm super-excited! This took less than two hours (excluding the hand-hemming) and cardigans are so useful. I'm pretty sure I'll be trying this again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's a cat's kitchen...

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

To paraphrase Karen:

It's a cat's kitchen... I just cook in it.

See something?

Here's who was hidden behind the dishes.

I had my back turned for 3 seconds, I swear. Biscuit is quick to make mischief.

Oh, the food? I made Mung dal na poora (Savory mung dal pancakes with onions) last night. Here's a photo of the batter (turmeric makes it yellow...)

And here's a photo of the finished pancakes. I had these for dinner, breakfast and lunch - they were very yummy. (And easy to make. Just some pre-soaking and grinding involved.)

Yet another reason to love Helen Mirren...

Mirren buys clothes at charity shops

Helen Mirren is pretty awesome.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday night sew in results

Yay! One more item off the to-sew list. Announcing your intent on your blog is evidently really good pressure to get it done.

So this is my pencil skirt. Simplicity 3631.


- The color and texture of the fabric. I bought this fabric in NY, it was a remnant in a bin, and I paid either $1 or $2 for it. (I'd spent a ridiculous amount of time at this store, and I think the guy just wanted me out of there. )
- Inner construction details. French seams throughout, a fun lining color, and lace at the hem. (I'm wearing the skirt right now, but I'll try to remember to take photos of this at some point.)


- The skirt is a bit snug (I cut the right size, but used French seams, and I think I use more than 5/8 of an inch when I do that.)
- This skirt sits right at my waist, but since it has a narrow waistband, it doesn't feel contemporary + high-waisted, it feels 80s and high-waisted.
- Darts in the front - I think this just serves to emphasize my tummy.
- Zipper in the side seam. There's a center back seam, I'm not sure why the zipper isn't there instead. It is near-impossible (for me, atleast) to get a smooth zipper over the hip area. This one isn't bad, but it isn't great either.

For the record - while these photos are making me look exceptionally shapeless, I think the top is responsible for most of that. This top is honestly only meant to be worn under a jacket (if at all.)

Back view:

Side view:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday night sew-in

Yay! My plans for tonight fell through (can I tell you how excited I am by that?) - which means I get to participate in the Friday night sew-in! Awesome!

Even though what I really want to sew is a sheath dress, I feel the need to be responsible and finish one of my eight pending projects. I think the purple pencil skirt will be the candidate of choice tonight.

The pattern I'm using is Simplicity 3631, which I've made a long time ago - here. I'm doing a bit of a search for the perfect pencil skirt, but am too lazy to trace a BWOF project out.

I don't think Simplicity 3631 is the answer either, but there isn't a whole lot left to do in order to finish it. So far, I have sewed the darts, back seam, set in the zipper, sewn up the waistband, and sewn up one side seam. (All painfully French-seamed, hence the slowness of actual sewing.) I've also cut the lining out, so tonight, all I'll need to do is sew the lining, attach to the skirt, and hem. That should be doable in the time I have this evening.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Simplicity 4076 rant

I had 30 minutes to sew yesterday - and I thought I'd knock off my pink t-shirt from my list of UFOs. All I needed to do was hem the t-shirt, hem the sleeves, and attach the sleeves.

Gah! My sleeve hem stretched out horribly, the thread kept breaking every 3 seconds, and now, the t-shirt looks like a hot mess.

I am going to fix this, really. The t-shirt shall just be sleeveless.

However, my rant is about the completely horrible instructions. I've made up this pattern before (the twist version of Simplicity 4077), and the instructions are hopeless. They have you construct the twist, then just fold and sew the front neck (can anyone say gaping?) and then fold and sew the back neck, and then attach together. No mention about stabilising knits, nothing.

Ok, I challenge *anyone* to make this t-shirt work as written. F***ing horrible instructions.

Mostly, I'm annoyed at myself. I did some things differently - I used elastic in the front and back necklines to prevent gaping, and that did work. But, I did do the front and the back necklines separately, and I'm kicking myself about that, cause it looks horribly home-made.

I also interfaced the hem to stabilise it, which worked ok, but didn't interface the sleeve hem - and it stretched horribly out of shape. The sleeves look like bat wings. Aargh.

Ok, I'll stop the stream-of-consciousness rant now. I don't have time to deal with this, but I'll either remove the horrible sleeves, use elastic (or the awesome Jalie magic method) and finish the armholes.

More likely, I'll toss it in the trash (oh, so tempting) and start over - this time, ignoring all written instructions.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday night dinner

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

I got *no* sewing done this weekend, and won't have any time during the week either, which is annoying! However, I did hit up the farmer's market near my parents, and in an effort to use up groceries before they withered and died, I spent a bit of time cooking last night.

I made a lot of Korean and Japanese food - delicious! A friend joined me for dinner, and she was noticing how I now have a lot of specialized ingredients to cook Korean and Japanese food (like rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, etc). True, it did take a bit to accumulate all of them, but now, these five dishes took about an hour and a half to make - easy! (And a sharp knife is very useful when julienning carrots & radish...)

Monday night dinner - Aug 16, 2010 (from top left, clockwise) - Green Beans with Soy Sauce, Carrot and white radish salad, Cucumber and dried shiitake mushroom salad, Rice with Millet, drizzed with Simple Korean Sauce

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday night dinner with parents

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

While I *refuse* to sew for other people, I really enjoy cooking for other people. Plus, my parents were going to bring me some sewing patterns, so I told them to stay and eat dinner with me.

Easy cooking, this! An hour - start to finish, and I made, with no rushing at all, three Middle-Eastern dishes - Frozen lima beans, braised with swiss chard and dill (from Iran), Baba Ghanoush, and a Cold yogurt soup with barley. Served it with store-bought pita bread for a nice, low-key weeknight meal.

Anthropologie Coveting...

How gorgeous is this Hanhaba dress from Anthropologie?

The best bit? I could make this dress (and best of all, with fabric already in the stash!) I think I might go sneaking off to my Anthropologie store this weekend to do a little snoop-shopping.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blue Checked Skirt - done!

Well, it has one pattern piece, and two seams - easy enough!

The inspiration behind this skirt came from two places. First - there's the Louis Vuitton fall collection.

Then, there was Bull Durham. It's been playing on TV, and in ads for it, I saw that Susan Sarandon was wearing a great black & white large checked skirt with very similar lines.

So, when I was at Fabricland a few weeks ago (yeah, I was. Bad Reethi!) I bought some of this blue checked fabric (fabric on sale - $2 a meter; pattern - Simplicity 4236 - view C) to recreate the look.

Here's my version.

Biscuit is always very interested when I'm on the balcony taking pictures.

I've made two other versions of this skirt (here and here), so it was pretty easy sailing.


I have 9 projects that are in varying stages of cut-out and half-sewn.

1. Purple pencil skirt.
2. Black wrap dress.
3. Pink t-shirt.
4. Navy-blue jacket.
5. Houndstooth dress.
6. Brown-ish dress.
7. Blue-checked skirt.
8. Flowered white dress.
9. Grey wool dress.

Insane! Of course, this isn't counting the number of patterns that are in various stages of prepping.

I need to clear some of this clutter, and these projects done. (And not get distracted by 15-minute skirts either.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Speedy Summer Skirt Sewing

Ok, fair enough, the title of this post is rather over-the-top cute.

I had *no* business buying this remnant at Fabricland, but the colors were pretty, it was $1.50, and let's face it, I have no will-power about remnants. I knew I wanted to make a very easy skirt with it, and so, this evening, while the TV was droning on in the background, I quickly made this no-pattern-required skirt.

I'm sure the construction is perfectly obvious, but this is just a rectangle, sewn on to some wide black elastic (I bought this in Montreal to make a belt, but then I didn't find the buckle I wanted, so this is a good use for it.) Stitch the two ends together, to form the center back seam et voila! As is typical for me, I've decided that the hems of knit skirts don't need finishing.

And now, I must go tidy the chaos that is my apartment. So boring!

G-Street Indulgence

I had no intention of going to G-Street. It was a family get-together, I knew I'd have no time to go hunting for fabric stores - all I wanted to do was to buy patterns at Jo-Ann.

The fates were conspiring against me, G-Street was in the *same* shopping mall as Jo-Ann. I went in to look around - and, umm, this fabric magically followed me home...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Draft 2 in the quest for the perfect wrap dress

While the changes I wanted to make were still fresh in my mind, I took some length off the bodice, and cut a second version out last night. At lunch today (the joys of living close to work are many), I quickly basted up the dress. Here's version 2.0...

Much better! I still think the bodice needs to be a tad shorter, and the midriff band needs to hit slightly higher on my waist, but atleast I don't have the hideous amounts of excess fabric. When I sew this up (sadly, much later this week, I've plans all the way through Wednesday), I'll take an additional half-inch or maybe even an inch off the bodice length at the midriff.

Looking at this picture, I realize that I should always remember to take a half-inch off the width of the shoulder. My shoulders are not as broad as the sloper that the Big-4 draft for, but this is one fitting adjustment that has not yet become second nature for me.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

FInished Object - New Look 6674

Well, it's done, but I'm not thrilled with it... It looks ok in this picture...

but in this picture, you can see the amount of excess fabric at the bodice/waist...

I need to shorten the bodice, most likely at the shoulder, shorten the sleeve to match, and adjust so the midriff piece actually hits me at my waist, vs. below. And if there's something magical I can do to raise the neckline so I don't *have* to wear a tank top underneath, that'll be good too...

Let's call this the first draft? The second to follow...

And the skirt - what you do think? Too short, or fine?

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Amidst the chaos of the sewing table, Biscuit makes herself at home.

She's lying on top of the interfacing. I guess my clothes will go un-interfaced.

Friday, August 06, 2010

On the sewing table...

In case you were wondering if I'm getting any sewing done between having awesome lunches, roaming around the continent, and drooling over clothes I want - the answer is - kind-of, sort-of.

New Look 6674 was cut in the middle of July. It's been sitting in the queue ever since, but last night, I pulled it out and spent about an hour working on it. In that hour, all I could do was stitch the darts (ah, darts, how I hate you!), and stitch the skirt seams, but still - it's a start. I'm hoping to have it done this weekend.

I'm making it in this purple fabric, which I bought in India during my crazy February must-buy-all-fabric-in-India shopping trip.

If this works out right, and if the planets align, and give me some spare time, I'd like to cut out two more versions, and sew them up before the 15th, and enter the One Pattern, Many Looks contest. Wrap dresses are awesome, and they tend to flatter my body. Adding 3 wrap dresses to my wardrobe would make me pretty happy.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The best kind of lunch...

...involves sewing friends, fabric and lovely conversation. Yay me! I got to indulge today, meeting Connie, Claire and Sue for lunch, chatting about fabric, and then walking down to do a tiny bit of (window) shopping, before I had to get back to work. (Work. Sigh. Something needs to pay the fabric bills, though.)

And here we are, at Downtown Fabric in Toronto. This is the same place that Tricia and me went to earlier this year, where I bought some beautiful, indulgent, expensive satin that I still haven't sewn up. (Hmm. Perhaps I should?)

I spent a lot of time in PR Montreal, moaning how I didn't have anyone to talk sewing with, and lo-and-behold! - a little mini sewing-ish break right in the middle of the day! Voila! It almost makes me believe in The Secret*.

*I haven't read the Secret, but it seems kind of New-Agey to me, and I'm definitely not New-Agey...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Patterns I didn't need to buy

I have three boxes stuffed to the brim with patterns, shelves overflowing with BWOFs that I don't use - but I evidently can't resist the siren call of the Joann pattern sales. When they happen to coincide with a time I'm in the States - all restraint goes out the window.

Witness the results...

DC (Virginia, actually, but close enough) was pretty busy with family stuff, but I had an hour to sneak away and do some shopping. Patterns, fabric & beer. Three very productive stops.

I'll confess - I bought fabric. Such pretty fabric! Pictures will be shared tomorrow.