Monday, November 28, 2011

Jason Wu-inspired grey t-shirt

Two separate stories come together to make this t-shirt...

The first bit: I think it was Carolyn's lace dress that first made me aware of the Jason Wu lace thing. It led me to look at the rest of the collection, which then led me to this sweatshirt, which got filed away as inspiration.

The second bit: I've a bit of a bad habit. Sometimes, when I hang out at my parents, I just have to sew. And so I'll start cutting random things out, and before you know it, I've created a UFO.

And so it was with this grey t-shirt, which was basically a variation of Simplicity 4020.

I cut it out a couple of months ago at their place, and sewed up the sides and shoulders. At which time, I tried it out, decided I looked fat in it. In the middle of all that, I also proceeded to burn a big hole near the neck (iron malfunction) and so, I buried it in the UFO basket, and tried to forget all about it.

Cue to now. I'm trying to finish the UFOs. This was a pretty easy fix - I just needed to deepen the neckline to trim away the burned bit, and hem. I did both those things last night, but then decided the shirt needed something extra. Rummaging through the notions boxes, I found some midnight blue lace trim I'd bought forever ago, thought of the Jason Wu shirt, and got to work. And here you have it - the Jason Wu-inspired grey t-shirt.

Unlike the inspiration picture, I sewed my lace on the front of the shoulder seam, so that the lace is visible from the front. I thought about sewing lace on the back shoulder as well, but I hand-sewed the lace (my machine didn't do too well with the lace, for whatever reason), and honestly, just ran out of patience. The front works well enough.

Ah, the satisfaction of finishing these pesky UFO's! Now, back to the UFO basket, to see what else I can finish.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A T-shirt refashion

At this stage, after I've been sewing for a few years, one of the hardest bits of sewing for me is just figuring out what styles look good on my body. One thing I do know though, and have known for a while - regular crew-neck t-shirts look horrible on me.

So, when I got this t-shirt during some St.Patrick Day outing in Toronto, it sat in my refashion pile for ages, while I looked for a good pattern to use to refashion it. And when I saw the 02-2011-114 Burda pattern - I knew I'd hit paydirt, this was the perfect pattern.

Sometime in mid-September, I cut out my XL t-shirt, positioning the lettering carefully, etc. - and sewed it up. And then I thought it was a bit too short (not enough fabric) and it sat on the UFO project pile, waiting for hemming.

Now, I've been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of projects I have in progress, and over the weekend, I decided to try to finish up at least one. This was the easiest project - all it needed was hemming - and so, I picked it up, ironed some interfacing to stabilize the hem, added some elastic, and finished it up.

Significantly better than a crewneck t-shirt, no? I'm not sure how much wear I'll really get out of it, but it's good for running to the grocery store, and stuff like that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Stitcher's Guild 2012 SWAP

I haven't done a SWAP in ages, but intellectually, I love them. (Reality check - I'm fantastic at making plans, significantly less so when it comes to following through.)

The full set of rules are here.

Basically, I need to make 11 garments - here's what I'm thinking of making.

- 2 t-shirts. I'll probably make that long-sleeved black t-shirt that my wardrobe has been screaming out for, and a cream t-shirt. This is all about basics for me.
- 2 pairs of pants. Black for sure, and probably a brown. (Have to look in the stash to see what I have.)
- 2 blouses. This is where I'll incorporate the prints - I'll make a couple of blouses that will go with the pants.
- 1 suit coat. Probably something that goes with the black pants, as difficult as that will be to photograph.
- 2 skirt. For the first one, I'm thinking cream. I have some cream faux-suede that's been screaming to be made for ages. I've been procrastinating, since it would involve lapped seams, which I've never done before, but it's time to put on the big-girl-pants, and get to it. The second one? Well, I still need a black A-line skirt, and even a black woolen pencil skirt (I have a black cotton pencil skirt, but I can't really wear it in winter, I'd die!)
- Raincoat. Every single time it rains, I resolve to make a raincoat. I even have fabric - navy blue. This SWAP is a perfect impetus to make it up.
- Hoodie. Much more casual - but I need something to just grab and go. I'm thinking something fun and asymmetrical.

As I review the plan, I'm thinking - wow, that's boring. My colours are blacks, browns, greys, blues and creams.

And guess what? That's exactly what I need. Right now, I'm wearing a black t-shirt, a black cardigan, and a pair of peach-ish pants. Yesterday, I wore grey pants and a coloured sweater, with a black t-shirt underneath. This is how I dress to work, and I might as well sew the things I need for it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two tote bags

I feel like I should have a more interesting 500th blog post - but this is it. Still, I actually have a couple of free evenings this week, and real sewing will happen soon.

In the meanwhile, I spent a few minutes yesterday evening finishing up my tote bags, using assorted scraps that were lying around in my fabric closet.

My mom has already claimed one bag, which works fine for me, I like to use up my scraps, but don't need a million tote bags. (Although, oddly enough, tote bags tend to disappear. They probably live in the mysterious black hole where my socks go.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sometimes, you just have to sew...

Dear readers, my life has been hellishly busy the last week or so.

My social life is always a little crazy (it's genetic - my mother is the same way - entirely too busy for her own good), but my work is usually nice and steady, to balance it out. Except the last week and so far this week - which has been insane!

After the Big-Important-Work-Meeting yesterday (the cause of all the extra work), I came back home, mentally wiped out, and sat on my couch mindlessly for a couple hours. And then, the itch to sew took over, but I was still wiped out. What to sew? Certainly not my fully lined dress, which is waiting for me - that would involve thinking, and I had nothing left in the tank.

And so, I reached into my closet, found some random scrap, and starting joining pieces of fabric together rather randomly.

Here are the results...

Two tote-bag shells, one finished little zippered pouch, and the fabric for another zippered pouch laid out.

Will these totes ever get finished? Will the other zippered pouch ever get made? Who knows? They served their purpose - sometimes, mindless sewing is pretty necessary.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A beer to call my own - photo!

They even named it after me! Ooh, the excitement.

Let's just say there was a fair bit of bragging going on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A beer to call my own!

If you know me at all in real life, you'll know that apart from being crazy about sewing, I'm also crazy about beer. (Sewing + beer, still not a good idea.)

And so, you can imagine the squeal of excitement when I saw this on Facebook:

My beer recipe - actually being made. It doesn't show up on the Facebook feed - but the beer I'd suggested was a play on a classic Mexican 'mole' sauce - with chocolate, hazelnut extract and dried ancho chillies.

So excited! I'm positively giddy with delight. (I'm not going to actually put it on my resume - but I'm totally going to brag about this forever!)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Why I quilt...

Elizabeth asked an interesting question in the comments (I love both comments and questions - keep them coming!):

Can I ask why you keep making quilts when you don't like to? Why threaten your mojo and joy with things you don't want to do?

That's a great question, and one I actually think I have an answer to. Basically, I quilt for 4 reasons.

1. I quilt to finish up old UFOs.

The red quilt belonged to this category. This black-and-white quilt I did with my mother is the same - it sat in the UFO pile for more than 3 years. These projects tend to be fairly involved, left over from the days when I used to make quilt tops all the time. These are really grudging, with very little inherent reward. Why I do it? I do enjoy the satisfaction of checking something off a to-do list though, and that's basically what keeps me going.

2. I quilt to use up left-over fabric.

I can't stand fabric waste, and I'd much rather piece a quilt top than throw away scrap fabric. This is my most frequent type of quilting. My favorite quilts in this category are the woolen one shown above, and this crazy quilt. Examples of this kind of quilt top abound through my blog, and actually, of all the kinds of quilts I make, I have the most fun with these. Why I do it? It gives me immense satisfaction to make something useful out of scrap.

3. I quilt as a gift for other people.

I don't often sew for other people, but there are times when a quick little baby quilt is the perfect special present... The t-shirt quilt made for my brother falls in this category as well. And the photo quilt top pictured above was a very special present for my grandmother's 90th birthday. Why I do it? I might grumble about the process of making these quilts, but I'm actually all warm and fuzzy when they receive it and really enjoy it. (I've made one quilt for someone who wasn't super appreciative, I won't be repeating that. Most people love being given a Linkhand-made quilt.)

A subset of this category is when my mom needs me to quilt her something (she's a quilter herself, so I only get asked when she's seriously short of time.) I might grumble (a lot) but my parents spoil the heck out of me, and it's the least I can do in return. (Damn! My mom reads my blog. Does this mean she'll pile more projects onto me? Kidding!)

4. Very rarely, I'll quilt because I have nothing else to do.

This is pretty rare though, but this will occur when I'm spending the day at my parents, or something like that, where I can spend some time sewing a quilt, but don't have any garment patterns at my disposal. (Also, my mother's sewing machine is the machine from hell - I'm not ruining a nice garment by using that thing.) The quilt above was similar - I was on vacation in Madras, my hometown. The internet access wasn't great, so in the spaces of time between visiting family, I made a quilt top. (Incidentally, this is the quilt that's on my bed right now. I do use them!)

So, though I whine each and every quilting project (and trust me, I whine!) - I actually get some satisfaction out of it (even if it is to just cross it off a list.) What I've become very good at nowadays is not starting a new quilting project (unless it is to use up scrap). And eventually, I'll be all caught up with the UFOs (ha!), and then, no more quilts. Until that day, I'll grumble away...

Calling for help! (Especially the Australian kind...)

Months ago, I was at some bookstore (in Montreal, I think?) and was flipping through their sewing magazines, and came across this one - the Stitches magazine, published in Australia. I was attracted by the idea of a no-sew draped top, but there wasn't enough in the rest of the magazine to justify buying it... or so I thought.

Months later, this is driving me insane, because in the article about the no-sew top, they referenced a book that is all about the draped clothing of cultures all around the world. (This is what I remember, at any rate.)

Does anyone have this magazine? If so, would you do me the world's biggest favour, please? Would you look up the article and tell me what the book they refer to is? That book, I think I would buy. Or atleast try to get my library to find. I'm trying to avoid spending $10 on a magazine just to find out one little book reference.

Pretty please? Sugar on top?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Plaid shirt - McCalls 6035

I did indeed get some time to sew buttons, and therefore, voila! Plaid shirt photos.

This is my third iteration of McCalls 6035. (Previous versions here and here.) This time, I cut the fabric in a single layer, to line up the plaid as best as I could. I did a reasonable job - not perfect, but at a level of imperfection that I can live with.

In this version, I thought I'd make the fun puffy sleeves. I was afraid I was going to look like a pirate or something, in super billowy sleeves, but I actually really like the result - it looks interesting, but not crazy.

I think the next time I make a shirt, I'm actually going to try to take out my David Coffin Shirtmaking book and try to apply some lessons from that book. I've got the mechanics of shirt-making down, I now need to up my game.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

T-shirt quilt for my brother (plus the giveaway winner!)

I'm not going to pretend that I sewed this entire thing with a smile on my face, dear Readers. Rather, it was a lot of mumbling and cursing about the necessity of sewing for other people, some angst about why I volunteered to do this for my brother, etc, etc.

But hey, it was an easy project, and it's done.

In case you were wondering about this two-quilting-projects-in-a-row thing, nope. I did (mostly) finish my plaid shirt. I still need to sew buttons on it, and then, find someone to take a photo of me. Hopefully, both of these tasks can be completed this weekend.

Given the large number of UFOs and projects-waiting-in-the-queue, I've decided that I'm going to alternate - one fun project, followed by one grudging project. Up next - fun project! Yay!!!!!!!

Oh, and the giveaway. I didn't really put an end date on it, but that post has been up for a week? so I think it's been open long enough, and it's time to announce a winner. I put all the comment #s in Excel, and used the random number generator to generate a winning number.

Which is...


Sorry, everyone else! Blame excel. Or, since I'm sure I'll do this buy-the-same-pattern-twice again, keep an eye out for the next giveaway.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Red Quilt all quilted up - sneak peek

Dear readers, I hate quilting.

Let's face it, while I can suck it up and finish piecing a top, the process of actually quilting it? Loathe it. (Additionally, I'm really bad at it too, so after doing something super-grudgingly, I don't even enjoy the finished results.)

In the past, I've saved all my quilt tops and have sent them to India to be quilted, but the work on the last few quilts have just been terrible. The guy who does them clearly doesn't want to do them any more, but doesn't know how to say no. (Kind of like me, basically.)

So, with the Very, Very Red Quilt top, I thought I'd try something different. I've always seen quilting services for auction on eBay, so I looked, found a listing, and sent my top off to her. Since she only ships to the US, I made my cousin pay for the auction, and the seller was going to send the finished quilt to my cousin.

My cousin received it yesterday, and sent me the following sneak peek pictures, and I thought I'd share these with you. I haven't seen the entire quilt yet, but so far, based on these initial pictures, I'm super-stoked.

Nice, right? I'm now plotting. If I can get the same lady to finish this woolen top, and this soon-to-be-finished quilt top, then I'd actually get some of these projects finished and out the door! Oh, the sweetness.