Sunday, December 30, 2012

BWOF 11-2012-136A - the last project for 2012?

I'm hoping not, though this indeed might be it for 2012 sewing - I work a half-day tomorrow, there's new year eve festivities planned in the evening, and I've a maximum of 2 free hours in between.

Yes indeed, I do have a giant pink flower on my breast.

Before I left for Germany, one evening, I pulled out the November 2012 issue of Burda Style, traced out the 136A top, and sewed it up. The fabric was part of a G-Street haul two years ago. Like everyone else who has made this top up, I raised the side seam to close the arm hole a bit.

Unlike other quick and easy projects that haven't worked well, I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out. I desperately need tops - they are a big wardrobe hole. Burda Style has been drafting a bunch of easy, yet interesting top patterns that I've been meaning to make, and I'm glad I got to this one.

I'm showing off my Christmas decor. Notice my top matches my awesome pink feather tree in the background.

I've another version cut up - watch for that in 2013!

Top 3 Misses!

In the next installment of Gillian's Top 5 list making, the Top 5 Misses of 2012.

Honestly, I've got to say, I didn't really sew enough this year to have much to say in this category. I mean, there's always things that I sew that don't work out, but that's just par for the course. That being said, here are some big misses for the year.

1. Ridiculous and fluctuating weight issues. I'm short. Which means - a 5lb gain shows. It also means, a 5lb weight gain makes my clothes not fit right. A ton of sewing issues this year can be blamed on this category. Case in point, this pair of pants, which is actually pretty well sewn, and still hasn't been worn.

2. Another theme that I have to guard against in 2013 - sewing something that I think will be quick and easy, because I don't want to start a major project. Some quick and easy projects do lead to good results, of course, but more often than not, there are disasters. Projects that I know will most likely not work, but I still sew, because I'm looking for quick and easy. Like said monstrosity below.

3. Sewing things with no consideration of my lifestyle. I live in Toronto, I grew up in South India. This really means I'm cold all the time, which means that a short sleeve jacket is close to useless in my actual life. My cream Simplicity 2443 Jacket - well stitched though it is - has never been worn. (I still hold out hope for it though, next summer maybe.)

There's probably others that don't get worn a lot, but these are the biggies!

Friday, December 28, 2012

And done!

Dear readers, I've been really busy the last couple of days, making the final adjustments to my first quilt pattern (woo hoo!), coming up with a company name, figuring out yardage requirements, and adding a second sizing option. Whoa! Lots of good stuff, I'm pretty stoked!

All of this means, I think I'm ready to publish it. For the moment, I'm thinking Craftsy and Etsy. There's a bit of logistics stuff to figure out - Paypal accounts, blah blah, but I'm hoping to put the pattern up in 2012. (Three days, Reethi - get to it!)

I was incredibly embarrassed by how lame my original pattern name was - so much so, I'm not even going to tell you what it was. Trust me, it was the lamest thing ever. And therefore, many, many thaks to Kay, Jean and Sophie for your suggestions for pattern names. All your entries inspired the final name. Kay's comment about "No Start, No End" prompted me to think of the concept of Infinity. I loved both Connections and Pathways - in the end, I went with Pathways, but I'm holding on to Connections! I think it'll come in handy for the next kolam-based quilt.

Enough talking Reethi - let's get to the picture, shall we? Here's the cover page of the pattern, featuring my mom's completed quilt top. (Well, she still needs to attach a border, but I got impatient.)

Kay, Jean, Sophie, I'll send you the pattern if I have your email address. If I don't, will you send it to me, please? And of course, if you do make it, I'd love to see pictures. Though there are a lot of steps, the quilt is easy enough to sew - it's all squares and rectangles, no curves, no triangles.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Creations of 2012

Rather late to the game (I just got back from vacation yesterday!), I'm joining Gillian's Top 5 list making.

Here are my top 5 favorite makes of 2012. (In no particular order!)

1. My first version of Butterick 5006. I love this dress - I love the fabric, I love the fit, I pretty much love everything about it. The sleeves make it easy for me to wear in winter when I want to get dressed up - I just layer a top underneath, a cardi over, and warm tights, and I'm good to go. (A bit cold, but hey, one must suffer for beauty.)

I've made two other versions of this dress, and I'm plotting another version soon.

2. My green and purple Vogue 1179. Again, a dress that got a ton of wear during summer. Plus, it worked great for fat days - the pleating hides a multitude of sins.

3. My hoodie. I've worn this nearly non-stop in spring and fall since I've made it. It's practical and useful and I love it.

4. Vogue 8667 - birthday dress. This dress was great - I made it for my birthday, but I also wore it a ton of times to work over the summer. It made me feel instantly dressed up and pulled together.

5. My grey pants. Like the hoodie, I've worn these pants a ton of times since I've made them. They are my favorite self-made pants, I absolutely adore them. Plus, the grey is a nice versatile colour to pair things with - practically anything matches these pants.

While I was significantly less productive in 2012 than 2011, I think I got more wear out of most of my garments in 2012. I did sew simple pieces, mostly, but I also felt like I understood my style better, and am now mostly making things I know I'll get good wear out of.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A very neon version of McCalls 5752

I've decided I hate ruching.

Catching up on old sewing projects, this dress was one I worked on over the summer. I hated sewing it - the ruching took forever, and it didn't really work - the gathers hung loose and looked messy. Since then, I've sort of made my peace with this dress, I still don't love it, but it isn't all bad.

If I were to sew it again, I'd also shorten the bodice a bit - there's some bodice gaping that I think would be fixed quite simply. (Of course, I could just unpick a few seams, but let's just be realistic and say that that won't happen.) And the ruching - I'd either just leave it out, or build some negative ease into it - a lot of the problems I had with the gathers not quite sitting right would have been solved by negative ease.

Monday, December 10, 2012

In-Process: My mom's kolam quilt

My mom brought her in-process quilt top to show me over the weekend, and I can't resist sharing this photo. I'm loving how this one's shaping up!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A mini-make

I'm going on vacation in a few days, and I've been reluctant to start a major project before leaving. I needed a little make - one that would hopefully turn out better than the striped-t-shirt-from-hell.

In true packrat tradition - I hate throwing out my scraps. I've whole bagfuls of scrap.

The third element in this story - a Kwik-Sew panty pattern (2467) that was in a pattern bundle given to me by a friend.

And thus, the next make became clear - panties made from knit scraps. Quick and easy.

Or so it would have been, had my machine cooperated at all. But it was snarly and spit out thread in all directions, and we had a bit of a contest of wills - would I give up and throw the panties in the dustbin, or would I persist, even though my thread was snapping every inch?

I won, sort of, in the end. I have a completed pair of panties. They aren't pretty, snarls of thread and fabric are everywhere, and for months into the future, I'll be picking out thread from my... - well, you get the picture - but hey, they are done, the panties fit quite well - right size, good coverage, comfortable, and I'm quite pleased.

I made a size M. I took out 1.5 inches from the length at the outset, and further trimmed another 2 inches from the waist once the leg elastic was in, and I could try them on. As designed, these are very high waisted, but with the trimming, they now come upto my belly button. On the next go-around, I'll trim another inch or two out again, to get it to be still lower on my waist. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A story about a quilt

This entry doesn't have anything to do with garment sewing. 

Chennai, where I grew up, is hot and dusty. Our floors were mosaic, and they were swept and mopped twice a day to keep the endless dust at bay.

Once the sweeping and mopping of the inside of the house was done, attention would be transferred to the veranda. It would also be swept and washed down, and then, while the concrete was still wet, a small kolam would be quickly drawn at the entryway to the house.

With a small handful of rice flour, the dots that acted as the grid would be laid out. Then, depending on the mood of the kolam maker, either a simple monochrome kolam would emerge, or a complex multi-coloured work of art. It was the most transient of art forms - people would walk on the kolam, disrupting the pattern, and even if we all avoided smearing the kolam, the veranda would be washed and the kolam redrawn the next morning or afternoon.

When I started quilting, I fantasized about a 'kolam' quilt, and wanted to replicate the patterns I'd seen as a child. This thought has remained in the back of my mind for many years, and I'm pleased to say, I've finally brought this to life.

For the last few months, I've been drawing kolam patterns on a grid, trying to map it out into a quilt pattern. About a week ago, I sent a completed set of instructions to my mother, my cousin and my aunt - and asked them to test the instructions for me.

Et voila! My aunt, who is a speedy and experienced quilter sent me these pictures this morning.

I'm beyond thrilled.

My mom's working on her quilt right now - her quilt is in the more traditional black & white. If all goes well with the two versions, I'll upload the quilt pattern for sale in Etsy as a downloadable pattern.

Now, if you've read the entire bit, I've a request. I need a name for this quilt pattern. Any suggestions? Please leave me a comment! (I'll sweeten the pot a wee bit - if I pick your name, I'll send you the downloadable pattern. I'll also select 2 other random comments to send a free pattern to.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

One striped mess

Way back in the time tunnel (August, I think?) - I'd just moved into my house - the sewing room was in an uproar, and I desperately needed to sew. And so, I pulled out McCalls 6400 - previously made here, decided that a fabric with stripes would be *interesting*, and got to work.

End result - this hot mess, that I've only worn underneath cardigans, for fear of being laughed off the face of the planet.

This fabric actually shows all the fit issues that I had with my first version. Most frustratingly, a pleat of fabric seems to have formed under my right breast, and I have to keep tugging it down. It's a bit snug at the hip, so I'm not sure if that's why - it could also be somehow grain-related - the top keeps twisting on itself as well. Let's just say hot mess and leave it at that, shall we?

It's a huge pity though - this fabric would have been the most awesome striped t-shirt, or a cardigan or something. Wadders suck.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Butterick 5206 - the first version

Fabric stashes are funny. Sometimes, I remember the provenance of every piece of fabric - other times, not so much. I found the fabric for this dress in my stash - and I had absolutely no idea where or when I bought it. (If that's not a hint that I need to stop buying fabric - I don't know what is.*)

Anyway - this was the first version of Butterick 5206. I love this dress - I've already worn it ~5 times - and would wear it more, but I'm a wimp about wearing dresses and skirts in winter. 

There are two things of note in the construction. The first is the neck and back binding - I ignored the directions that would have you cut a knit fabric on bias. Instead, I cut a strip of fabric on lengthwise grain, folded it in half along the long edge, stitched that to the *wrong* side of the neck, and then flipped it over, and top stitched from the right side. (I forgot to take pictures - hope that made sense.) This gave me a very lovely professional-looking finish. The bias would have been a disaster. (Seriously, Butterick?)

The second was the sash. The directions have you attach it to the waist, and then wrap it around. I thought the dress would be more versatile if the sash wasn't attached. However, the wrong side of the sash kept showing, and since this knit fabric has a very prominent wrong side, I cut two pieces out for the sash, and sewed them together to eliminate the problem of the wrong side showing.

I've a bit of a hankering to sew one more version of this dress - however, I have plenty of *necessary* sewing, and I think I might get to that instead.