March 4, 2013

Belated Birthday Shirt

 Though it may be a few months late, I have finally finished making a mens button-up shirt as a birthday gift for my husband. It has been a long project because I worked at first on making a muslin to try the fit, I adjusted the pattern and I worked slowly just to make sure I didn't make any mistakes.
This pattern is McCall's 6044 and it is a very straight forward pattern. There are several great versions already made out in blogger world: four square walls; true bias; Dixie DIY. I chose to do view A with the addition of the back yolk from view E becuase it matched an already owned 'favourite' shirt in his closet.
I chose to top stitch in a blue-grey thread, and scrounged up a set of matching buttons from my stash that even went with the shirt! The yolk and front button plackets were done on the bias; I liked the look of the diagonal plaid.
Unfortunatley, even with my attempts to fit the shirt using a muslin, and to customize it ahead of time, it came out too small and does not fit comfortably. The actual buttons for this version won't be serving any other purpose other than decorative.  :(  Lesson for next time, maybe the pattern sizing isn't so rediculously huge.
 (Pull lines when arm is raised and too tight to use the buttons properly)
Anyways, I was thrilled to see the shirt actually being worn this morning, even though it needs to be worn over a t-shirt. I'm really happywith the finished product (minus the fitting issues); I took my time and it paid off: no use of the seam ripper was part of this project ... ok, ok, except for making the button holes.  :)

February 11, 2013

Monday's shirt

Started Sunday afternoon, and here I am wearing my new t-shirt on Monday.
I've used a wonderful light knit for this shirt and used the Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern from Maria Denmark. This time I decided to add thick waist and sleeve bands and a small neck band. Both the arm and waist bands are about four inches wide (eight total before folding them in half), and the neck band is 3/4 inches (one and 1/2 before folding). The last version of this shirt that I completed, I just hemmed all of the edges and top stitched with a double needle, and though it looks fine, I am still not entirely happy with the finish on that one.
(My new iron and a lot of cold snow and icicles!)

The sleeves bands are a tad too big; if I do this again I think they need to be shaped, rather than one large rectangle sewn on.

 I marked the back of the shirt with a small piece of ribbon. The front and back of this shirt can look exactly the same early in the morning.  :)

What got me through this: DIY Dixie's Never fear Knits, Tasia's Sewaholic Renfrew pattern and Maria Denmark's pattern!
 At the very least, this project has helped get me out of a sewing funk.

January 25, 2013

Blogger blues...

It's not that I haven't been sewing and creating for the past two's just that so many of those things were gifts, and one cannot blog about a gift before it is given. Well, silly me, because then I forgot to photograph all the lovely gifts I did finally finish.

What was I secretly working on? Knitting and weaving projects of course.
I knit up 3 pairs of 'socks' (or slipper like socks because they are so thick), to keep toes warm. I found a straight forward pattern in which I could easily alter the ankle height, and I made a point of trying to use up all of the small leftover balls of yarn by creating un-matched striped socks. Each pair is made of the same colours but different stripes and thicknesses of stripes; a great way to clear out the last little bit of leftover yarn.

The weaving project was one I had been working on for over a year, and even then, my husband and I only got three dish towels completed to give away on Christmas Eve. Again, I forgot to take photos.  Here's the warp still on the loom.
I have been working on re-fitting and re-fashioning some old work clothes to fit me better. Specifically pants. I found the legs of some of my ready-to-wear pants much too wide (almost elephant pant leg) and definitely not professional feeling. So with the new fancy seam ripper (I can't rave about this tool enough!) I was given for Christmas I attacked the side seams of two pair of pants. I really happy with the fit of the legs now, and the waist of the pants fit much better now two.
I've realized that I have yet to understand the science of pant construction and I think that sewing pants might be a ways off yet in my sewing carrier.
As for the blogger blues, I love the blog, but sometimes it feels like an overwhelming responsibility. There are a lot of works-in-progress that need to be visited. So, there is no end to what I can blog about, it's just a matter of getting them up here.  :)

November 15, 2012

A fall-plaid skirt

A stash-busting, fall coloured, plaid skirt! This beautiful wool plaid has been hiding out in my stash for years. After the moth infestation I went sorting through my boxes just to ensure that everything was moth free and came across it. Amazing what you forget you own. As soon as I saw this plaid I knew exactly what I was going to make.
Inspiration came from Lladybird's beautiful and bright circle skirt and from Andrea's gorgeous half circle skirt over at four square walls (I love those skirts!).

There was only just enough material to make a half circle skirt, and amazingly enough I was able to match the large plaid pattern. That took a lot of plaid tracing and measuring, and I had to repeat the process three time because I couldn't believe my luck when I realized that it would work.
The zany-zipper dilemma was sorted. I had to remove the invisible zipper and refit the waistband of the skirt. Instead of re-inserting another invisible zipper (had I mentioned that the first one broke?), I decided to go with a bright red 'regular' zipper from my stash because the wool was too thick folded over to allow the invisible zipper to do its thing (that would be ZIP).
If anyone out there knows of a really great online 'regular' zipper tutorial, please give me shout. I've figured out the invisible ones, but perfecting the normal zippers still seems to be beyond me. I am content in the fact that the red zipper does not standing out, but please try not to notice the lumpy-zig-zagging stitches that hold the zipper in place.  :)
So, with a lot of hand stitching to ensure the bright red zipper was hidden as much as possible, I now have a finished fall skirt.

October 30, 2012


Well, I hoped to have a project finished by the end of October, but alas, time has run away again. I've been happily sewing little bits each day and I am soon to be done this project but then the zipper strikes. First try, I sewed in the invisible zipper just right, only to then try on my garment and realize it needed to be adjusted just slightly for a better fit.
The needles mark where I need to take in material. A funny angle. I can't wait to finish this stash buster project.  I am amazed at how quickly some other bloggers sew and post their finished projects: Lauren of Lladybird and Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn for example. Well, for me this project will just have to join the ranks of the November posts. 'till then...

*UPDATE* Well gosh darnit. One little tine on the zipper busted and now I need to go buy and re-insert a whole new one. One more barrier...

October 11, 2012

Fall sweaters and unwanted guests

Firstly, I apologise (again) for the lack of posts on the blog. My personal goal was to post two, hopefully three entries each month, and I failed in September. The machine is fixed and I've been sewing, just no projects I considered blog-worthy. Thus the silence. I am slowly sewing up a shirt for my husband. I really want to do it right so I am taking my time, making a muslin, measuring twice, and cutting carefully. It has been a slower than usual project.

To the topic of this post... Fall sweaters and unwanted guests.
A few years back I made us a few thick wool sweaters for the fall. Actually, I initially made my husband a sweater as a gift, but it became mine because surprises don't allow you to easily measure someone.  :)  It's a beautiful thick zip-up sweater with pockets, and big enough for me that it makes a great 'jacket'. Still needing to make my husband his own sweater, I took all of his wants and dislikes and knit a newer, and more appropriately sized, sweater, complete with hood, wooden buttons and a tree.
 The tree design was created from scratch because I couldn't find the right tree pattern anywhere. It was easy actually. I drew a tree, and then using teeny-tiny graph paper, I 'traced' the tree drawing by colouring in squares on the graph paper. From there, I used the chart to count colours in my rows as the back of the sweater was a straight forward stocking stitch. Ta-da! I do have plans to add a lining to my husband's sweater so he can wear it more year-round. But that is yet to come.
So, that's the story of the two beautiful sweaters.
Until I went to wear mine for the first time this fall...
Holes. Where there shouldn't be holes. Oh no. I searched more, and there was a whole chunk of the waistband missing on my husband's sweater! And more holes!  We had (have?) moths.  The hours of work that went into these! So we searched out and plucked those little moth larvae from the sweaters and hats and mitts that had not been stored away (as good wool garment owners should). And we froze and washed and dried and plucked more. There has been no more hole development, so I think they may be gone for now, but from what I read, you can never be certain you are completely rid of them. We just need to be extra careful.
Casemaking clothes moth larva
So I am now in the process of patching, re-knitting and fixing the sweaters. They are looking a little worse for wear; I am not as good a patcher as I am a knitter (and even that is very basic), but they are still warm, and now clean.
Lesson learned: wash and store away your woollies in the summer. With cedar if possible. And kill remove the moths that trick their ways indoors. Hopefully we'll still get more wear out of these sweaters before the moths attack again.

August 30, 2012

Whatever happened to those comfy pair of jeans?

I promised you here that one day I'd show you my jean 'collection'. Well, since my sewing machine is given me headaches (not picking up stitches), I thought I'd share the collection instead.

So, whatever did happened to those comfy pair of jeans? Those that I've worn out, I've stashed away in boxes like this:
 Then they are disassembled and stored here and here:
And then finally they get made into something usually like this:
A shopping/utility/multi-purpose bag! Personally, I enjoy using them way more than the cheep ones sold at the grocery store. Each bag has it's own personality; I add in drapery fabric from a sample book I was given. They are great to use too because they have the same weight and (usually) texture as the jeans.
This funny hobby originated from my favourite jeans about ten years ago. You know, those pair that are incredibly comfy, you wear them all the time, and then they slowly start to deteriorate and so you add a patch here, and there. Then they rip more, and you hand stitch them there and here, and add another patch to reinforce the old ones too. And then those pants deteriorate so much that one day while doing maintenance work, you hear a RRRIIIIPPPPP, and you know that the only you will wear these pants anymore is with a pair of leggings underneath. (And you do too, because you work at camp, and this is totally acceptable).
But one day, those jeans must retire. And myself, having artfully stitched and patched those pants, couldn't bear to toss them. So instead I cut them up and made my very first jean bag. (The yellow plaid was even the patching material I had used over and over).
And I still use it years later! I have made many more, so many I couldn't take pictures of them all. But every part of the jeans are used. The back pockets are used on the insides, belt loops for decorations, and the waist bands (the most valuable part) are used as the handles. (You always need two pairs of jeans to make one bag...)
The material gets used for the obvious, and even the thick seams of the jeans I will cut out and weave together and make funky bags.
Family and friends started donating their old jeans to me, and now I've made many projects with denim, including a quilt (a gift: Thanks for the picture D.), hot 'plates', coasters and even a computer case (unsuccessfully).
It's a heavy fabric, and can be a pain to sew the thick seams, but I enjoy the results more. And the fact that my old favourite jeans can still be used. That's some great upcycling for ya!