Monday, April 30, 2012

Signing up for Me-Made-May '12

It's that time of the year again, dear Readers, and I'm ready to play!

I, Reethi from 'Weekend Crafting' sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '12. I will wear only me-made and refashioned clothing (excluding underwear, socks, camisoles, tights and outer-wear - though I will wear my me-made-hoodie as much as possible) each day for the duration of May 2012. I will also approach the documentation aspect of this challenge with enthusiasm, making an effort to take nice pictures in a timely manner. 

I have a super-early morning meeting with some super-higher-ups at work, so nothing like jumping of the me-made deep end, no? I'll manage, I think/hope. (Note to self, sew at-least one jacket.) 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm late to the party!

The Pyjama Party, that is...

But hey, just a day late? That's akin to a miracle for me. 

PJs are a funny thing, dear Readers. I sleep in the most ghastly things - old torn t-shirts, usually - the kind that you toss into the rag bag automatically. For me to pick new fabric and make myself a pair of PJs? - that seemed ultra luxurious. 

In for a penny, in for a pound, I say! I picked out newish fabric - I'd bought this white and black polka-dot fabric at King's Textiles pretty recently. I'd originally had it earmarked for a blouse, but I threw caution out the window, and instead made a pair of PJs.

For a pattern, I used New Look 6523. I cut a size 12, and lengthened the pattern by 2 inches at the hem. I sort-of-followed Melissa's tutorial for elastic insertion

The best part of making PJs? You can have a bit of fun taking photos. 

The orchids on the night-stand are gorgeous, no? They are a birthday gift from my parents. 

I'm still in the PJs, I can tell it is going to be a lazy, lazy Sunday. Perfect. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The easiest pair of pants: BWOF 6-2011-114

Dear readers, these pants are easy to sew! The gap in posts had everything to do with hoping for a day that was warm enough that I could stand outside in short sleeves and take a photo for the blog. Finally, I gave up - you get to see the background of my living room. (Which looks surprisingly clean in these pictures. It's really not. That's the only clean corner, cause it houses the not-so-often-used TV.)

I traced a Burda size 40. (That's what happens if you eat every bit of junk food in the universe, btw, under the guise of not-being-so-harsh-on-yourself. A therapist friend of mine agreed that that method doesn't actually work on all people.)

I shortened the pattern - both front and back pieces in 3 places - between the waist and hip by 1 inch (thereby shortening the crotch), right before the knee by 2 inches, and then, at the hem by another 2 inches, I think. It worked beautifully, I'm pretty happy with the way these pants fit.

Originally, I figured I'd do what Tany did and leave the elastic exposed, but my elastic was cream, and not wide enough, and it just looked weird and unfinished. So, I ripped that out (seriously, after 4-5 years of sewing, I'm still to sew a project without resorting to the seam ripper at some point!), and used the fabric as a waistband, creating a casing for the elastic to slip in, etc.

I didn't topstitch the elastic in place, as the instructions suggested, since my thread doesn't actually match my fabric, and I draw the line at that much sloppiness. For the same reason, I hand-hemmed.

And it has pockets!

You did want to see my butt, no?

Anyway, this is a pretty strong contender for the SWAP - yay!

(I'm wearing it with this shirt... the pants are linen-y, and there's a fair bit of contrast with the shine of the top. I'm not convinced it works entirely, but I was having one of those mornings where nothing looks ok, and half my wardrobe ended up thrown in annoyance on my bed.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Black and White striped t-shirt

Evidently, I feel some guilt about the immense amount of stash accumulation that's happening chez moi. And so, this striped fabric - bought over Easter weekend in New York - was very promptly transformed into a t-shirt.

I used my Banana Republic pattern, but finished the neck off with elastic, vs. a neck band. (I tried the neck band, but hated the look, and spent some quality time with a seam ripper.)

I really like this pattern - it's easy and comfortable. I anticipate making many more!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Teaching other people to sew

My mother is routinely annoyed with me, dear Readers, for my general all-purpose refusal to sew for her. (I make exceptions, but rarely.) And my cousin keeps stealing my clothes. (And on this trip - this bag.) To all of them, I've said one thing - I'm happy to teach you to sew, but I'm not going to sew for you.

So, when in New York, I had an hour (and 7 people trailing after me) to buy some fabric. I bought 5-6 pieces. ~$30. I was dwarfed by the spending of the people trailing after me, who were there only because they were humouring me - my dad bought a couple of pieces of wool for pants (he has them tailored in India) - including one DKNY wool (at Chic Fabrics), my cousin bought two knits if I promised to show her how to make a t-shirt, and my mom bought one woven, if I promised to show her how to make this shirt. (Ridiculously easy, with minimal fitting, this will make a perfect beginner project.)

Damn, they took me up on the offer to teach them to sew.

Back at my cousin's house, post fabric buying, we got going. I deconstructed a favorite but now torn t-shirt of mine from Banana Republic. I bought it years ago, so it's unlikely to be on the web site, but it's relatively shapeless, made cute with little gathers round the neckline, and the neck, sleeve and hem edges are finished with bands, therefore avoiding the dreaded rippling and stretching that can happen when hemming knits. It's a pretty perfect little pattern.

I used one of my newly purchased fabrics to make a trial version (entirely my own fault, but I loved it on the bolt and told him to cut it without touching it. It was kind of poly when touched, bleah.). I intended to make this trial muslin for my mother, but that didn't work out so well - the hem band was too small, and in the end, the only person it fit was me. (Oops. Really. I really tried.)

Then, my cousin got to work, rather nervously. (I don't understand the nervousness. It's just fabric, buy some more if it doesn't work out. How else will you learn?) She knew how to do all the simple bits - she's a pretty detail-oriented quilter - so stitching straight seams is easy for her. She just needed help with the hem band, the neck band and the sleeve band. I showed her what to do, from a comfortable arm-chair, and voila!

She looks rather pleased with herself, no? And she should be pleased with herself - she just made a t-shirt. And since I left the pattern with her, she can make many more!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Let's be honest, dear Readers - I knew this moment would come. The moment where I was sick of the SWAP, and just wanted to sew something - entirely without a plan.

Yeah, the only surprise is that I stayed true to the course for this long.

Anyway, I had a couple of hours tonight, and instead of diligently cutting out my black t-shirt, my black skirt, or my cream skirt, I wondered if I had enough options to stop sewing today. (I might, I'll need to ponder on that for a bit. More on that in a bit.)

And then, I cut out a pair of hopefully easy pants.

The pattern is BWOF 6-2011-114. Clio made it in an awesome floral print. Tany had just used regular wide elastic and left it visible - a brilliant idea that I'm totally going to copy.  I'm making it in a drapey tan fabric - a gift from a friend. (My friend Beth helps a puppy shelter by sorting through stuff they get for donation, I think. I'm a little vague on the details. But whenever someone donates fabric, she sets it aside for me. How cool is that? I'm rather spoiled, I think.)

So, sometime - maybe Thursday or Friday, I'll sew it up. (Tomorrow is the big one-day-ahead-of-birthday party, where the Vogue dress will get a preview. Needless to say, I didn't fast the last 10 days. Spanx. Enough said.)

Ok, now to the SWAP. I spent a bit of time assessing options. Here's where I'm at.

This is the list of garment categories.

Button Down Shirt w/Collar         
Blouse or shirt   (collar is optional)                 
Shorts or Capri Pants       
Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)                     
Coat  (suit or sport coat)
Overcoat or Raincoat     
Bathing Suit & Coverup 

- You need to make 11 garments from 7 distinct categories.
- The start date was Dec 25 (important for me, as I'll need to separate what I made before and after Christmas.).
- I can use 2 garments that are either store-bought, or pre-sewn, lowering my total to 9 garments required. (I was hoping to avoid this, but I'm now bored. I might do this.)

So, against categories, I have:

1. Button-down shirt w/collar -  Light green checked shirt.

2. Blouse - Pink and brown flowered blouse. I did cut this out in Myrtle Beach, but since I got to Myrtle Beach Christmas eve - I'm fairly certain I started this after Dec 25.
3. Blouse - Lace blouse. Same thing as above, I cut it in Myrtle Beach.

4. T-shirt - Cowl-neck t-shirt.
5. T-shirt - if I abandon the black-t idea, I sewed most of a t-shirt in New York that's black polka dots that would work well. (It's less than an hour to finish, so I should get on that!) Or, I could use another yet-to-be-blogged t-shirt (white and black stripes) using fabric I bought in New York. (Wait, I haven't confessed to that yet, have I?)

6. Dress - Greige dress.
7. Dress - Purple flowered dress.

8. Trousers - grey pants.

9. Jacket - my hoodie.

Hmm. I'm running into a bit of a wall when I contemplate skirts - I have too many skirts! I don't need more skirts. I might use a pre-sewn skirt - I have a couple of summer black options.

Which means, I'll either need to make another jacket or another pair of pants to finish.

Hey, suddenly, my BWOF pants make sense. A plan, without even meaning to have one.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dare to Wear Love at the Textile Museum of Canada

I headed to the Textile Museum yesterday with my mom. They had a wonderful exhibition on called Dare to Wear Love - a whole lot of designers creating dresses from African fabric, as an AIDS benefit, I think. Lots and lots of inspiration! (It was really, really hard not to touch the clothes. I might or might not have taken advantage of the fact that no-one was around, and might or might not have peeked at some construction details.

If you are in the area, well worth a quick stop. (And if you live in Toronto, you can get Textile Museum passes through your library card.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I have a hoodie!

Dear readers, I'm quite excited - look, I have a hoodie! It's remarkably practical, I can wear it every day, how very sensible of me. I'm quite surprised at myself.

The pattern is McCalls 4261. I thought the order of construction was pretty silly - everything left the raw edge visible, there was a yoke that was overlaid over the front shoulder, and all kinds of other silliness. I ignored most of the instructions, omitted the yoke entirely, and looked at an RTW hoodie of mine for sewing clues.

I would change a couple of things the next time I make this.
- I didn't interface the center front, I would. I think an interfaced front would hold up to the weight of the zipper better.
- The top-stitching on my pockets are seriously wonky - again, interfacing and tracing out the pocket attachment line would have helped greatly. Next time, will do so.
- Oh, and I'm going to adjust the height of the hood - this one is too big, I think?

And yes, of course there's going to be a next time! Hoodies are cool.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This and that

1. Do not sew at midnight, people. Nothing good happens at midnight. I made a series of unfortunate decisions with my hoodie that will require a few hours with a seam ripper this weekend. Gah. I wanted to wear the hoodie today, but that just isn't going to happen.

(Since when did I get picky anyway? Life was a lot easier when I didn't care if something was a bit off.)

2. Me-Made-May '12: Zoe's latest Me-Made challenge led to a bunch of thoughtful posts around blogworld, and the aspect of challenging yourself got me started to think about what I wanted to get out of Me-Made-May.


Since I started sewing, I've tapered down on shopping for clothes, and basically, at this point, I really don't buy RTW at all. (I bought a pair of jeans recently, but I think that was the only RTW I've bought in 12 months.) There's not much point - I have plenty of fabric, and I can sew. So, getting to wear the clothes you make doesn't really apply to me - I sort of do it anyway, just out of necessity. (I have plenty of RTW in my wardrobe though, and I do wear it often, however, any replacements for worn-out things are self-sewn.)

But I adore the community aspect of Me-Made! I love the enthusiasm people show, I love seeing how people wear their creations, and I love the whole idea of integrating your self-sewn wardrobes with your every day life. 

I'll be honest, in recent months, I haven't been approaching Me-Made with the same enthusiasm though. On the last challenge, I decided it was too much of a chore to participate. The previous one (June '11), I abandoned half-way. I enjoyed playing in March '11, in September '10 (though evidently I never did a round-up post), but I was my most enthusiastic in May '10.

This is ridiculous, of course. Internet challenges are entirely voluntary - why would I do them without enthusiasm?

So, my personal Me-Made-May '12 challenge - to enjoy the process. To enjoy taking my photo - to enjoy posting it on Flickr, to enjoy writing little blog posts about them. Oh, and if I can do it with more style? That would be pretty awesome too.

Wow, that was a marathon of writing. I now have nothing more to say. :)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Purple flowered Vogue 8667 - this year's birthday dress

Around this time of year, thoughts usually turn to stitching a birthday dress. Last year, I made my blue knit dress - a wardrobe favorite! This year, due to the time constraints of the SWAP, I needed to sew a dress that would also fit into the SWAP - sewing TNTs concept, and so I turned to Vogue 8667. 

Fun little fabric fact - I bought it with a gift certificate my friend Anna gave me for my birthday last year. Birthday present fabric to make a birthday dress? Score! I love this fabric - it's a stretch cotton - it's quite thick, and doesn't need to be lined, simplifying the sewing tremendously.

What a lovely and easy dress to sew! The cotton made the sewing and the pressing super-easy. The pattern is really well drafted, with clearly marked petite lines. I folded as instructed, and everything came together swimmingly. (For the neckline, I could have drafted facings, but instead, I used a bias-binding strip, attaching it to the neck, and hand-tacking it down.)

Normally, I view any sort of hand-sewing as a failure. However, with this print, any normal hem was going to be visible, and I don't know how to sew an invisible hem by machine. So, I painstakingly hand-stitched the hem, the sleeve hem and the binding to the neck. Aargh. Would have taken me less time to learn how to use the blind-hem foot. 

The dress is a bit snug on me, no? My birthday's 10 days away. I guess I could try forgetting to eat from now until then. Or, Spanx. (In all probability, knowing both my love for food, and my love for comfort, neither scenario will happen.)

Still, I'm really quite pleased about the dress. (My cousin really has a gorgeous back yard - it makes for really fantastic photo taking! Check out that tree in the background!)

Oh, and the SWAP countdown? 4 pieces to go. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I have too much fabric...

So, King Textiles in Toronto is moving (around the corner, so not a big move), and they had a sale recently - a bunch of fabric for 20% off. (Not really much of a sale, since you can get 10% off anytime, really.)

Still, I went. Wisely though, I had a strategy - I recruited a male, non-interested-in-sewing friend to follow me around the store and keep telling me I have too much fabric. It worked - sort of - I only bought 4 pieces of fabric.

In any case, I really have too much fabric. And the reason I'm reminding myself of this is that this weekend, I'm going to be in New York*, visiting family. I'll be in the burbs most of the weekend, but on Friday, I'll be in the city, and I've carved out an hour or so to go see some fabric. The last time I was in New York, I went a bit crazy, and bought ~15 pieces of fabric. As best I know, I've only sewn up 1 piece - which strongly suggests I really shouldn't buy anything. But of course, my will power has a way of eroding when I'm in a store...

Sadly, the Museum at FIT is closed for Easter.

In other news, my Vogue dress for the SWAP is done. I've also discovered that my planned trip to Florida for a friend's wedding is not the last weekend in April, but the first weekend in May. Super! Now, I have two more weeks to finish.

* I would have loved to meet up with my fellow sewing bloggers! Alas, I'm going to be busy with family stuff, and I'm assuming everyone will be doing the same, since it's Easter weekend.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

2012 First Quarter sewing

A quarter of the year is over, dear Readers, and it seemed time for a catch-up post on what I've sewed. I had the hardest time making last year's end-of-the-year list, and I figured it would be easier if I did it every quarter, no?

So, here's what I've sewn in the first quarter of 2012:

1. Greige version of BWOF 09-2010-122. (March)
2. Winter orange dress - modified BWOF 02-2009-108 (January)

1. Flowered top - Simplicity 2936 (March)
2. Light green & white shirt - McCalls 6035 (March)
3. Lace top - BWOF 02-2009-108 (January)
4. Cowl-neck t-shirt in browns and blues - McCalls 6078 (February)
5. Red t-shirt - Simplicity 2933 (February)
6. Black and tan shirt - modified BWOF 02-2011-114 (January)
7. Grey and pink version of BWOF 06-2011-106 (January)

1. Grey pants - drafted from RTW (February)
2. A pair of pants not on the blog yet.

I always find these kinds of lists interesting - to see what I default to. Evidently, this quarter, it was tops. I do need tops, though I'm not sure still if I'm making the kind of tops I really need (solids, not prints.)

Also, 11 things sewn, keeping rough pace with my 1 garment a week output of last year. I plan to slow this down next quarter - I have a lot of travel coming up, and I want to start sewing more involved projects, not quick-and-easy pieces.

How has your first quarter of 2012 been? Talk to me. :)