Sunday, October 30, 2011

The "I am an idiot" Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

Dear Readers, I've been doing a lot of stupid things lately.

For starters, when in Lyon recently, I booked a hotel room for the wrong day. Through Expedia. Only abject grovelling - in French - to the nice lady at the hotel front desk got me out of that situation. (It is amazing how nice people are to you when you admit you are (a) an idiot, (b) wrong and (c) will they help you anyway?)

Yesterday, I went to see Fela. Almost didn't make it, because when I was buying tickets online, I bought tickets for Friday night, not Saturday night. Again, the nice guy on the phone bailed me out. I told him I was an idiot, he laughed and exchanged my tickets for the right date. Sweet!

But the most recent sign of idiocy? I'm doing a spot of (rare) cleaning. I have sewing patterns strewn all over my apartment, and when I went to put them away, I found that I had bought, in two separate occasions, two identical versions of Simplicity 2053 (sizes 6-14).

Sigh. There's probably some reflection here about mindless consumption here, and also another reflection that I have entirely too many patterns. However, instead of actually using this as a 'teachable moment', I'm going to get rid of the evidence by offering up my duplicate to anyone who wants it. If more than one person is interested, I'll do a drawing. (Please enter your email address so I can contact you for your address?) Oh, I'll ship world-wide...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Almost new - McCalls 6112 (view B)

It is Diwali today, and one of our Diwali traditions is wearing new clothes.

On the phone with my mom, I was trying to figure out what was new in my wardrobe. Nothing came to mind. I didn't have any time to hastily sew myself something new, and buying something when you have a fabric stash the size of mine - well, that isn't really an option.

So, I settled for almost new - this version of McCalls 6112 (view B), that I've worn out only once before. I started this mid-September, finished it early October right after I came back from France, and wore it out to a friend's for Thanksgiving lunch. Almost new was going to have to be good enough.

Let's see - this is pretty simple construction. I looked over the instructions, they looked fine. What I did differently? Interface the edges of the hem, neck arm-holes and shoulder openings, for extra stability. Though painful, this extra step is definitely worth it - my dress feels well-constructed.

In retrospect, I wish I had bothered to make view C - the version with pockets. Or added in-seam pockets to my version. However, at the time, I was ridiculously busy, and was looking for instant gratification, so no pockets it is.

(Showing off the crazy sleeves...)

Note to self: get a better black belt, this one is pretty pathetic. Or alter this one by cutting off the excess length.

Funny/random story: My parents drove into the city (they live in the suburbs) and my brother, my parents and me went out for Diwali dinner. To a Chinese restaurant. Eating Chinese for Diwali is definitely not a tradition (although our food was delicious - maybe it should become a tradition!) But it cracked us up, eating Chinese on the biggest Indian festival of the year.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crazy Camouflage

Most posting catch-up here...

It was back in September, I think, that Faye had asked about McCalls 6400.

As it happened, I'd just recently bought the pattern, and was curious enough to try it out. I pulled out an impulse fabric purchase (promptly regretted...) - a bright green camouflage, and got to work. I made view B.

While this t-shirt feels current - due to the asymmetry, the dolman sleeve and the ruching, at the end of the day, I just don't know. I'm not feeling this t-shirt.

For starters, my fabric doesn't have enough stretch.

But there's something about the shape that just doesn't work very well for me. (Incidentally, after looking at these pictures, I thought they had come out way better than the t-shirt looks in real life?) In addition, it just isn't very wearable - the t-shirt keeps getting twisted out of shape (grain issues, perhaps?) when I try to do any actual work wearing it.

Really simple sewing though. One pattern piece - join the side and shoulder seams, and you are done.

I will say I want to try it again in a fabric I like better. Like a solid black? We'll see. The queue is long, and the days are short...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to create multiple UFOs - a step by step guide

Step 1: Announce your intention to cut a shirt out by Friday, and then spend Friday evening watching a movie and grabbing drinks with a friend instead. (Ides of March, btw - and I highly recommend it.)

Step 2: Find out Saturday morning, that during the night, your sweet little cat has dragged your plaid fabric on the floor, and then proceed to throw up on it. Clean cat throw-up off the floor. Wash your fabric in the bathtub. Wait for fabric to drip dry.

(No pictures of this step, thankfully.)

Step 3: Create probable UFO 1 by starting another project while waiting for fabric to dry. Start a bit of a grudging project, making a t-shirt quilt for my brother. (Promised for 3 years, been waiting in the queue for that long. I thought I might finish it up for Christmas, since we'll be visiting him then.)

Step 4: Start t-shirt quilt project by cutting lots of t-shirts up. Make huge mess.

Step 5: Proceed through the mind-numbing boredom of cutting out 12.5 inch blocks of crappy interfacing to fuse on to the t-shirts to stabilize it. Fuse blocks. Start cutting them out.

Step 6: After cutting 3 blocks out, decide that this is the most boring project in the world. Get bored, decide to grab coffee/play with cat/listen to music/write a blog post/clean apartment instead. But wait, the fabric should be dry, no? Perhaps I'll do that instead?

Step 7: Cat decides in favour of the t-shirt quilt by sitting on the plaid shirt's pattern pieces. One does not mess with a cat. Ever. Especially one who likely threw up on your fabric deliberately because she's annoyed you had a friend over for drinks. ;)

Another quilting project. Why do the sewing gods hate me so? Sigh. I like my brother, but this is very, very grudging. I want to sew for me, damn it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When life gives you tomatoes...

you make tomato sauce, of course...

A while back (August?), I was chatting with a friend of mine, who was basically complaining about the yield of his garden - he had too many tomatoes, and was wondering aloud what he was going to do with it all. Now, this is a pretty nice problem to have, right? So, I proposed a trade - I would trade him a six-pack of beer for some tomatoes - I let him figure out the exchange rate. He gave me two big baskets - like 10-12 pounds? (Well, it was very good beer.)

A perfect trade - we were both happy with what we got.

Now, I knew I wanted to make an Indian-style tomato sauce. I had visions of making a whole load of sauce, ladling them into bottles and freezing them. Then, when I was feeling too lazy to cook something from scratch, I could just pull out a bottle, thaw it, add a vegetable to it, and be done! A good vision!

So I spent the better part of an evening in the kitchen. I chopped onions, peppers, ginger and garlic and sauteed them...

Then, I added chopped tomatoes and let them all simmer (I threw in some Indian spices too - mostly cumin, but also some curry powder.)

And lo and behold, I had sauce.

(I would be in very good shape for winter, if it weren't for my unfortunate habit of being lazy quite a lot. I've already pulled out and used two jars - and I think I have about 8 bottles left...)

Oh, a sewing update? I've started cutting out a shirt. It's a kind of plaid, so the cutting is very slow going (cutting in a single layer, aligning the plaid, etc.) I hope to be done with the cutting tonight, which means that I should have time to finish the shirt this weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And done! The Very Very Red Quilt top

Dear readers - it was fairly obvious during this project that I was approaching this quilt rather grudgingly. "Finish the damn UFO," I kept saying to myself.

But what do you know? It was worth it. Look how pretty! (Lots of pictures, since I'm rather proud of it...)

Also, cats have magic powers! My cat can detect the moment a quilt top is spread out anywhere. And will be there instantly to sit on it.

This quilt top was made from assorted left-over pieces from many quilting projects. No new fabric (well, my mother has a basement of quilting fabric, why would I ever need to buy any? I simply raided her stash for border fabric.) There's remnant pieces here from projects that are over 10 years old. Totally impressive UFO-busting, if I say so myself. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A faint stirring of hope

The blocks are done - all 56 of them. Now, I have to add the sashing, and piece them together. Still, hope. This should be done by Thursday (it would be done earlier, but I've social commitments Monday and Tuesday).

Not soon enough, I'm so ready for some garment sewing.

Parting shot (shamelessly copying Summerset here):

I drove up to Honeywood today for Foodstock. It was a cold and overcast day, but the food was delicious, and it was nice to see the community rallied around a cause. (Also, some farmers gave me some free brussels sprouts, yay!) Here's the line of people waiting to get in...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Catching up on posting old projects - a pink & yellow baby quilt top

What do you do with your scraps?

As a by-product of sewing, I have a ridiculous amount of scrap fabric. Like, bags and bags and bags of scrap. The kind that could/should get me on Hoarders.

Every once a while, in a somewhat futile effort to do something with it, I make a quilt top for no reason at all. This one was made sometime this year, as far as I can remember. I think my cousin needed a present for a baby, so I gave it to her, and she quilted it up? I can't remember... (maybe I gave her this quilt top instead?)

Some of the fabric in the top come from leftovers from clothing - remnants from this dress, this skirt, and the rest is quilting scrap.

My favorite efforts to make quilt tops from scrap - this woolen one and this bed-size one (complete insanity, by the way, dating back to days where I clearly had more time than I do right now.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

White shirt, black skirt.

Finally, some pictures of garments.

The white shirt I've talked about here and here. I think it's been complete since about July. I know I finished it before I went to Copenhagen, since I took it with me. The pattern is McCall 6035, which I've made before. Although I screwed up this project one hundred different ways (mostly, I cut one sleeve wrong, which means it was set in rather half-assedly), I love the end result. I think this shirt fits me well, it's super useful, and since I used like 8 buttons on the shirt front, doesn't gape at all. Love it!

The skirt has a mini-story associated with it. I've been eying this fabric all summer long at Fabricland. But I've reminded myself that I have too much fabric, blah blah. Ok, sometime in September, I was having a seriously crazy week, and I took refuge by taking a day off work, and heading to Fabricland. This fabric came home with me, and I immediately started cutting into it to make this skirt. I made it in one afternoon (2-3 hours of work, but there's no zipper, since it's a knit, so it wasn't that hard.) The pattern is McCall 5817, which I like since there are no darts on the back, rather the back is made up of 3 pieces - a center back and two side back pieces... Although you'd think the fake animal look would reduce the wear on this skirt, I've already worn it twice since I made it - once to a party, with a plain black t-shirt, and once to work (which is when this picture was taken.)

And yeah, I need to get a haircut. This evening, I think.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Catching up on posting old projects - Diya's apron

Since I'm still working on the stupid quilt top (I should come up with a better name for it, no?), I thought I'd blog about an old quick project instead.

I think it was last year - my friend Anu invited me to her daughter's third birthday. Now, I was a bit stumped for present ideas (Diya really doesn't need any more clothes or toys), so my parents and me decided to be sensible and give her cash. But cash, while useful, is really not cute. And so I decided to augment the gift with a tiny, 3-year-old-size apron.

We augmented the apron with some Dollar-store tiny dishes and cooking utensils...

Et voila! Instant present!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The state of the sewing table

In a bid to finish up some of those annoying, lingering UFOs I have so many of, I've resolved not to work on anything else until I finish this silly quilt top. Sigh. Boring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back from vacation...

I got back from vacation Sunday evening. France was lovely...

In the end, I had time to sew practically nothing. But it was fine - the weather was a lot hotter that I'd anticipated (a very pleasant surprise!), and so I wore the same two dresses - both self-sewn - over and over again.

A couple of travel photos...

At the Canal du Midi in Agde

The Roman Amphitheatre in Nimes

At the Pont Du Gard

At the Roman Theatre in Orange

While I loved being away, I'm happy to be back. My summer was a bit crazy and hectic (though in a good way) and I'm looking forward to a more laid back fall.