Thursday, September 30, 2010

Accessories - my version of Anthroplogie's Three-Piece Belt

Here's Anthropologie's version.

And here's mine. I left off the welt pockets (welt pockets in one evening? surely you jest.) I made it narrower than the Anthro version, but I'm pretty pleased with it.

"Wait a minute, Reethi!", alert readers might remark. "Weren't you going to make an obi belt?"

Why yes, that was the plan. Except, I pulled out the pleather, and I definitely didn't have enough to make the long ties. So, I had to do some fast thinking today, and draft up this alternative. Which I actually like quite a bit.

Construction details:

- I free-handed the front and side pieces of the belt, and then cut out 4 pieces of each (left front, right front, left facing & right facing.)
- Sewed the front & side pieces together.
- The back is a wide black piece of elastic, wrapped in a brown tube to completely cover it. (In Anthro's belt, they use what appears to be suede. I used some leftover brown knit I had lying around.)
- I sandwiched the back between the belt front & facing, and edge-stitched the pleather.
- The belt is fastened with hook & eye closures, that are hand-sewn on.
- Finally, the buttons are stitched on top, also hand-sewn on.

It wasn't a difficult project, but it did take the *entire* evening to construct. Ah well. I'd like to think it was worth it.

Also, you'd have seen it in the poncho pictures last night, but I did change the game plan on the grey belt as well. I decided to keep it simple, and make a 1.5 inch wide plain belt, with a silver buckle. Not many construction details worth mentioning, just that I did interface the front side, and left the lining side uninterfaced (self-lined using the same wool). I cut my interfacing so that my seam allowances would be uninterfaced, and then put belt & lining right sides together, sewed up the tube, turned right sides out, topstitched, and attached the buckle. Not complicated at all.

So you want to make your own poncho/cape?

Don't worry, Mom, I'll still make one for you.

Ok - this is the easiest thing to make, and I swear, the versions in Hilltribe were exactly like this. And their versions were $50. (I scored a great deal on the fabric in Toronto's Fashion District - it was $1 a yard, with a minimum 5 yard buy. I think I used up a maximum of 2 yards for this, so my cape cost me $2. Feel free to hate me.)

Here's a little diagram that might help.

Here's what you need to do.

1. Decide how long you want the cape to be. I decided I wanted mine to be mid-thigh. Measure from shoulder to mid-thigh - and write that number down. Let's call that number A.
2. Decide how wide you want the cape to be. I wanted it to hit halfway between my elbow and my wrist, so I held my arms out straight, and measured from mid-arm to mid-arm. (Imagine a scarecrow.) Let's call that number B.
3. Now cut a rectangle, whose length is 2 * A, and whose width is B. (See picture below.)
4. Grab some tailor's chalk, and draw a line which divides the rectangle into halves on the breadth, where you'd expect to see the shoulder seam (in the diagram, I've marked it shoulder seam, except there's no seam, since there's no piecing here at all.) (For the math/geometry people, you've now drawn two rectangles that are A * B in dimension.)
5. Now draw a line which divides the rectangle into halves on the length - mark this line from one end of the rectangle till the shoulder seam. (One of the rectangles will be divided into two rectangles that are A * 0.5B in dimension.)
6. Cut down this second line (drawn in step 5). This forms the center front.
7. Draw out the back neckline, and cut it out. (The solid marked-area in the diagram below.
8. All done! Wear your cape smugly!

Another clear-as-mud tutorial...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Accessories: Sneak Peek at the Poncho/Cape

Ok, how much do I love this!!!??? It's no sew, it's warm, it's comfortable...


Here are some sneak peeks - I'll get better photos & a review up soon...

Accessories: The Reversible, MultiColored/Yellow Bag

The story of the design: When we got to PR Montreal, we were handed a re-usable shopping bag with the PR Montreal logo printed on it. (Similar to these.) I love this bag! The shape is great, you can carry it on your shoulders or just by the handles, and it holds far more stuff than you'd think. (I used it to move some fabric to my offsite storage - namely, the parents' basement, and I was amazed at how much fabric I could cram in there.)

I've been meaning to replicate it for a while, and the Accessories Contest was a good push.

The story of the fabric: This red silk fabric has sat in my stash for more than 4 years. (It might be one of the oldest pieces there.) I bought it when I only sewed bags, meaning to make some kind of tote bag out of it. (It was a sample in a design store, so I only a half-yard.)

Then, when I started sewing clothes, I thought I'd make an A-line skirt out of it. This would have been complicated, due to the stripe-matching issue, and the extremely limited amount of fabric I had, and so it sat, un-sewn.

Finally though, I've come full circle, and used it for a bag. Much better idea, I can't imagine where I'd wear a red striped silk skirt. (A bit dressy for work, a bit too distinct for everyday life.)

For lining, I was a bit stumped in terms of what was available in my stash. Finally, I pulled this mustard silk-cotton fabric, bought in India, that I had less than 1/2 a meter off as well. (It was another remnant.) I had *just* enough fabric, my shoulder straps are pieced, but I feel pretty good about using it.

This is a pretty fancy lining, and actually makes the bag reversible, which I love!

Construction Details: In terms of construction, here's what I did:

- I traced the bag outline onto my fashion & lining fabric, adding a seam allowance.
- I sewed the sides together (both fashion fabric & lining), and the bottom (leaving a bit unsewn in the lining so I could pull the turn the bag.)
- I sewed a bit of the bottom and sides together, to add 3-dimensionality.
- I left the shoulder straps unsewn, both of lining and bag.
- Then, I placed the lining and the fashion fabric, right sides together, and sewed up the straps (leaving an inch at the top.)
- Because there is a curve near the straps, I clipped the seam allowances so it wouldn't create puckering.
- Flipped the bag inside out (to expose the right sides) and then sewed my shoulder seams of both the fashion fabric and lining closed.
- Finally, I top-stitched the straps, and slip-stitched the opening in the lining bottom closed.

Clear as mud, I know, but it is a pretty common way to line a jacket and bodice.

And that, in a long nutshell, is everything you need to know about the bag.

Accessory Wardrobe - Inspiration Looks

For accessory inspiration, I automatically turned to the Uniform Project. If you wear the same dress for 365 days, you know how to accessorize.

A lot of looks weren't really me, but here are a few that I loved.

These images provided a load of inspiration, though my pieces in the end don't look anything like this.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Accessory Wardrobe - the plan & the pieces

I've been intrigued by the Accessory Wardrobe contest for most of the last month, and thought I might participate in atleast one contest this year. (I was hoping to participate in the wardrobe contest, but the summer months were crazy/insane, and it didn't happen.)

The trouble is - a lot of the accessories you can make for the contest - hats, gloves, aprons, mittens, ties, socks, slippers, fanny packs, headbands, leg-warmers - are items that I just don't wear.

So, my thoughts have revolved around what I can make that will fit my life and personal style.

In the end, I've decided to make the following items:

- A brown pleather obi-style belt (Dawn made a great red leather version here)
- A grey fabric belt of some kind. Most likely, it'll be another obi. I have some light grey wool that I think will work great for this.
- A multicoloured bag (the predominant colour is red.) Bonus? This bag is reversible.
- My black & white striped Infinity scarf.
- A mustard poncho/wrap thing. I was in Hilltribe in Halifax, and was very inspired by some really simple pieces that could be worn in a variety of ways. I want to replicate that.

I'm envisioning all my outfits being worn with a basic black knit dress. (Which I'll need to sew in a hurry!!!!!) I have 4 different looks in mind.

1. Preppie. Basic black dress + infinity scarf + brown belt.
2. Warm. Basic black dress + mustard poncho + brown belt.
3. Pared-down work. Basic black dress + grey belt + bag (solid-side)
4. Global hippie. Basic black dress + brown belt + multi-coloured bag

So - there you go. I have 2 days left - 4 pieces to sew (though of course, everything except the dress is relatively simple, and worst case, I can use an existing dress to model the outfits.)

Monday, September 27, 2010


The reason for last week's blog silence? I spent almost 4 days in and around Halifax. I was there on work, but I had enough spare time to play tourist.

The Citadel.

Peggy's Cove- the obligatory shot of the famous lighthouse.

Peggy's Cove - coastline.

Peggy's Cove - it is so adorable, it is almost staged. Still beautiful.

There's something about the smell of the ocean. I was pretty happy!

And of course, I had to do the obligatory beer tour.

To Infinity and Beyond!

I think I mentioned this before, but I'm planning to participate in the wardrobe contest. (Umm. It closes in 3 days, so I better get a move on.)

One of the accessories I've been meaning to make is an infinity scarf, which I first read about on Cidell's blog. What a great idea, no?

So, I used some of the G-Street haul, and made myself one.

Here's a couple of looks...

A messy version of a Capelet

Triple loop round neck

To be honest, I'm pretty simple in my scarf tying ways - this will be worn as a triple/double loop around my neck most often.

Photos taken in Toronto's Little India on Gerrard Street. I had lunch there with my parents and brother, and my mom and me strolled through some saree stores after. Super fun!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cheltenham Badlands

Let's get it out of the way - I had a massive Friday night sew-in FAIL. I did sew (I started a twinset), but I finished nothing. However, it should/will get done this week, so a photo will be up soon.

On a different note, on Saturday, I went to the Cheltenham Badlands. The trail wasn't quite open, and it was pretty steep, so I did practically no hiking.

But I did take several pictures.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm playing - again!


Ahem. That's my water, little Biscuit.

My new skirt + Self-Stitched-September Day 16

I'm pretty impressed with myself - I used a bit of my G-Street fabric haul, and made up this skirt.

When sewing this, I wanted to replicate an existing simple RTW knit skirt that's one of the mainstays of my wardrobe. So, I just pinned it on the fabric, added seam allowances, and cut. No darts, this is basically a tube with a tiny bit of waist-shaping. The skirt is also lined (knit lining), and has elastic at the waist. Super simple!

As usual, no hemming. I'm sure that not hemming my skirt speaks to the moral decline of my generation, or some such thing. But it isn't going to ravel, and I'm sure that if I tried to hem it, I'd ruin it.

The rest of the outfit? Can you tell I'm all snuggled up in my shawl cause I'm cold? Under the shawl, I'm wearing the Minimalist cowl, inspired by the Selfish Seamstress.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Self-Stitched September - Days 11, 12 and 14

Rather sporadic picture taking on my part (and corresponding posting of pictures on the flickr group), but trust me, I'm participating. I'm cold and miserable and wearing the same thing over and over, but I'm participating.

(I'm joking. A little.)

Day 11 - Minimalist cowl, inspired by the Selfish Seamstress, Simpicity 4036 skirt.

Day 12 - Simplicity 4076 grey t-shirt, Simplicity 4236 blue checked skirt

Day 14 - McCalls 6035 pink skirt, blue skirt (McCalls something, I need to find and review this, since I love the way it turned out.) Excuse the wrinkles, I'd been sitting in the skirt all day. (Celebrating at a friend's place cause she got a new job - bonus!)

So I've been missing for a week?

My blogging really goes through stages. Some weeks, I've plenty to say. Other times - meh.

But I've actually sewed quite a bit since Friday. 3 pieces! I made a really simple knit skirt, a bag (I'm thinking of participating in the accessories contest on Pattern Review) and the Kay Unger Vogue dress.

The Kay Unger dress can *never* be worn without Spanx (by me, anyway), which I don't own, so a shopping trip seems to be in order. Dear readers - can you buy Spanx in Canada?

Pictures soon. It is pouring outside, grey and depressing, and it doesn't encourage picture taking.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Self-Stitched-September Day 9

Fall's in the air, and it is making me very nervous. I've only one pair of pants (I'm wearing it today) and let's just say we'll see a lot of it this month?

Yesterday though, I wore my St Patrick's Day dress. It is McCalls 5466, view B. I added tights and a blue scarf for warmth, and I mourned the passing of summer.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Catching up on a couple weeks of cooking

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

The Madhur Jaffrey project has made me cook almost every day, but it is pretty boring posting photos of food daily. However, here's what I've been cooking lately...

August 23, 2010 - Chickpea, Cabbage & Dill Soup
I'm not going to lie, I ate this soup non-stop till it got over. It was yummy.

August 29 & 30, 2010 - a bit of a cooking spree, brought on by a refrigerator groaning with food.

August 29, 2010
Peas with Parsley and Coconut

Kookoo with Roasted Eggplant

Turnips cooked in Dashi

August 30, 2010
Cabbage with Carrot & Scallions

Zucchini stuffed with Smoked Eggplant

Peas with Ginger (shown on a plate with Rice with Millet and Turnips cooked in Dashi)

September 5, 2010 - Chickpea & Green Bean Salad

This is the photo I forgot to take the other day...

My newest cardigan + Self-Stitched-September Day 7

I bought this fabric at Wal-Mart expressly for the purpose of trying out a cardigan. The problem with this fabric is that it stretches out of shape pretty easily, and also, it's pretty sheer. The magic Jalie method worked less magically as a result, and the cardigan is falling off my shoulders a bit. Still, without the magic Jalie method, I'd have ended up with a stretched-out shapeless mess, so let's give credit where credit is due.

The pattern is McCalls 5105. As before, I added 1.5 inches to the center front width, and didn't cut on the fold. However, I think my math is wrong here, and I'll need to add 2.5 inches to the center front to provide for a proper overlapping front.

I don't love this one as much as I do my last attempt. But it did go well with my red dress.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Much closer - the quest for the perfect wrap dress

So much better. I finally took some time and finished my second draft of the New Look 6674 dress. I have to say, I'm liking this one quite a bit.

After the last version, I realized I needed to raise the neckline so I could wear the dress without a tank-top underneath.

Here's what I did:

- Raise the shoulder by 2 inches. (Because of my shoulder modifications, the bust dart is in the wrong place with this dress, but the black hides it a bit.)
- Take a half-inch off the entire armsycle - since it was a bit too snug because I'd reduced the shoulder so much.
- Add a center back seam, and take in a good 1.5 inches at the center back neckline.

Ok, if I want to do this correctly, I need to redraft the bodice entirely, I think, rather than mucking around with it like this. But you know what? It works ok. I can wear this dress.

Oh, this is also what I wore on Self-Stitched-September Day 6.

Long weekend cooking

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

When your refrigerator is *overflowing* with vegetables, sometimes, you just have to spend some time and cook it all. And this is what I spent most of yesterday doing, sigh. On the plus side though, I've easily enough food for the next week.

Sept 5, 2010 - Pecel (served with Peanut Sambal)

Pressed bean curd with cabbage

Beet and tomato soup

Kohlrabi with chinese black mushrooms

Spinach with fermented bean curd

I also made a Chickpea & Green Bean salad, but evidently I forgot to take pictures. Good thing there are leftovers - I'll go take a picture this afternoon.

Experiments in Kimchee making

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

I've either made Dong Chimi (White Radish Water Kimchee) - or I've made a bottle of salmonella-infested paste, waiting to kill me.

Dong Chimi (White Radish Water Kimchee) - August 29, 2010

Ok, I'm being dramatic. I tasted some a few days ago, I'm still here. I think it is ok. Cooking horizons are being stretched.

But any kimchee makers (or anyone who knows what Dong Chimi is supposed to look like) - why is mine so cloudy? Is it supposed to be?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Lost & Found

Warning - cuteness overload ahead!

See this bag?

Yup. There's a Biscuit in it.

Cuteness overload!!!!! Am I the only one who runs for the camera at moments like this?