Tag Archives: Self-stitched September

Self-Stitched September, and a poll

Self-Stitched September?

Folks, I’m in a quandary. It’s the eve of Self-Stitched September, and I don’t know whether to participate or not.

Sewing’s been a bit slow this summer, for various reasons, and with the fall looming I can’t really see that changing. If I even think of the mountain of things I have to accomplish in the next eight to ten months, I’ll collapse into a wriggling ball of jelly. I know SSS doesn’t MANDATE daily posts (really, what’s the point if I don’t take daily photos, though?), I’m just not sure I”m up to the commitment. Which sucks because I’ve really enjoyed documenting the me-made months in the past, and I’ve been proud that I’ve been able to include at least a LITTLE bit of sewing/discussion in each post. I don’t think I can do that this time, though.

I’m so totally torn.

On a lighter note, it’s my birthday next week! (Hmm, somehow I’m less excited about that than I used to be…)

I’ve really enjoyed some of the things other bloggers have done for their birthdays—week-long giveaways, Oona’s rocking party (which I could only observe, being on vacay, but man it looked like some awesome fun). But I’m rubbish at mailing ANYTHING, and let’s face it, I just can’t party like a New Yorker.

What I WOULD like to do is share a pattern. I’ve been playing with several over the last few months, but haven’t quite gotten any to a point where I was ready to share them. Partly because I’m not sure how they’d be appreciated.  So I figured I’d ask you all to choose, and then finish up the instructions and grading and put up a PDF. The ones I’m thinking of are:

The Cropped Jean-Jacket:

Cropped Jean-jacket

The Flutter-Sleeved Tunic:

Flutter-Sleeve Tunic

The Grecian Sundress:

Grecian Sundress

The tunic and sundress both had some minor issues that will easily be resolved by a tweak of the pattern before it gets to you—lengthening the tunic, eliminating the waist-seam in the sundress. I’m pretty happy with the jean-jacket pattern as is, but the construction is a lot more involved, which might deter people. I would do my absolute bestest to grade the patterns and make up some proper (hopefully even illustrated!) instructions. And probably do up another version of the final pattern while I’m at it.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to get the poll feature working and you can all vote below (click through to the site if you’re reading this in a feed reader)—otherwise just leave me a comment letting me know. *crosses fingers that there actually ARE votes*

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Self-Stitched September: Lessons?

Self-Stitched September 24

Looking back

It seems obligatory to do a post on the things learnt from Self-Stitched September, the impact it has had on me, especially since I hadn’t done the Me-Made-May challenge. So here goes.

The Good:

  • I had enough pieces to get me through. I’ve been trying hard to focus on practical sewing this time around, and aside from the odd venture into pouffy-skirt territory, I’ve been pretty successful. A big thank-you to everyone who pushed me towards a “full” commitment. It’s good to stretch ourselves a little.
  • It pushed me to get more creative with my outfits—layering Lydias and JJs or the Danielle Dress over jeans, even finding ways to style my Kasia skirt—which I still have issues with.
  • it pushed me to “step it up” with my photos to reduce the boredom of photographing repeat outfits. Though my photo-quality is still pretty spotty, I think.
  • it pushed me to make use of borderline pieces that I probably wouldn’t get much use out of otherwise—like my first black Lydia with the wonky shoulders, or my ex-capri Jalie Jeans, which fit fine but have some construction, ah, idiosyncrasies.
  • it clarifies a lot of things about what I like to wear.

The Bad:

  • Boring! Although I had enough pieces to get through (without doing laundry every other day), it gets old rotating the same two pairs of pants and the same few shirts, especially when weather necessitated layering or omitting the more summery items. I didn’t get a lot of use out of my cowl-neck tops due to the weather, and I got mighty bored of my variations on JJ and Lydia (especially layered together).
  • I wish I had a few more “relief” pieces (like the Danielle dress pictured) for spicing it up when the staples get old. I’m really lusting after a mid-length mermaid skirt like Big in Japan’s or LouTracey’s. The Kasia fits this ‘hole’ but a) I don’t really like it with any of my self-stitched tops, and b) I find the whole pencil-skirt thing a big constricting for everyday wear. I like to walk fast and take stairs two at a time, which is not good for pencil skirts.
  • DAILY photos! Tiring, boring. Probably the repetitive garments wouldn’t’ve bothered me quite as much if I hadn’t been photographing them. (I know, this is also part of “the good” because it pushed me to get more creative with my photos)
  • I never did find my blue tank top. It’s been MIA all month!

The Odd:

I don’t think my husband or children even noticed that I eschewed all RTW (except jackets, sweaters, and sleepwear… and undies) for the month. I guess this is partly because I was wearing a fair amount before (one piece a day through August and much of July), but still. Way to go, family! Also, it felt really weird to grab a non-self-stitched pair of jeans this morning.

The wardrobe:

Here’s a link to my Self-Stitched Flickr set. I didn’t manage pics every day, but more than not. You can tell which days I was inspired and having fun and which days were just “bleh let’s get this over with”, can’t you?

So on the whole, I’m glad I did it. I really like the feeling of wearing my own items, even if I don’t like being restricted to just them. It would be fun at some point in the future to have a fully me-made wardrobe, although I don’t think I’m going to exclude the possibility of buying stuff as needed. I hope I didn’t bore you all to tears with the outfit posts—I tried to have a bit of something else in there, even on days when little or no sewing was done.

The Way Forward:

I still need to finish my winter coat, and of course proceed with the Lady Grey. I’m still toying with the idea of turning the muslin (assuming I can get the front working) into a real, light-weight coat. I won’t be able to do the “final” version until I can get fabric, which hopefully will be sometime in October (I have a 50%-off coupon for up to 5m of fabric at Fabricland that expires at the end of October, but funds remain tight in the Tanit-Isis household). I have the lining! Tyo will also need a winter coat at some point this fall, so I need to decide whether to buy or try to make her one. I’m thinking I should hold off on making her one until I’ve tested whether mine will end up being warm enough, which of course means after the winter, which means buying one in the meantime. I’d also like more cardi-wrap-type garments, but again that requires buying substantial amounts of not-cheap fabric.

And, in the purely fun and frilly side of sewing (that oh-so-seductive side I’m trying to avoid), I now have all the materials I should need for a tiered petticoat, and also I’m considering sacrificing some of this red fabric to a retro circle skirt to go over said petticoat. How fun? Plus I still need some madeleine bloomers to go under the pouffy skirt (see above), and maybe some more nighties. I may resort to some of these just because I can use fabric I already have, instead of having to buy more.

So that’s where I am as of this morning, happy to have risen to the challenge but also glad it’s over. My wardrobe is going to feel so massive and well-rounded now… ;)

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Lady Grey Muslin

So last night I managed to get the sleeves on and make some preliminary adjustments to the fit. Namely, I took in the centre back about 2″  and each back princess seam about another 1″. I might let the CB out a tiny bit—it looks awesome as is, but it’s probably a little more snug than an overgarment should be. Though I’m not aiming for this to be my awesome-warm-all-winter garment. Just a nice spring/fall coat. I also lowered the armscye by just taking another seam 1/4″ below the existing one, which eased that area  a lot. I may experiment with taking it down a bit more. There’s still a bit of extra width in the upper back, but if I take that in I lose range of motion.

I think I really do have to fix that lapel. :P What do you think of the back? There is still some wrinkling around the sleeves, but everyone seems to have that.

What about the length?  I haven’t turned anything under yet (hopefully get to that tonight). It really looks pretty ok just how it is… does this mean I should be adding hem-allowances? ;) But that’s probably getting ahead of ourselves. Anyhoo, further thoughts/comments would be very, very, very welcome.

In Self-Stitched September news, I’ve been kinda slack documenting the last couple of days. I’ve been wearing the ex-capri Jalie jeans, tuesday with the red JJ blouse, yesterday with one of the Lydia tops. You can see portions of those outfits in today and yesterday’s muslin pics, but I didn’t get proper outfit photos. Today, for the finale, I’m attempting to jazz it up a bit with my Kasia skirt.

Self-Stitched September Day 30

Trying to fix my hair while posing (windy!)

Top: black JJ, red Simplicity 2603 cardi-wrap
Bottom: Kasia skirt from burdastyle.com, lacey tights from Joe (AKA Superstore) and my cute-librarian heels. I’m nots ure the busy tights work with the outfit, but oh well.

Also, while running up the steps of the deck I ripped the back slit of the Kasia up about three inches. Have to decide what to do about that (shoulda done a vent! ;) )

Self-Stitched September Day 30

This would've been a cut pose except that it looks like I'm doing the dandruff check :P. Again trying to fix my hair in the wind at the wrong moment.

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Premature blogging

Grey suiting (left); purpe plaid knit (right)

If I waited until bedtime, I might actually have something to show for myself. As is… not really. But since I’m home, kids not in school, and guys fixing the driveway making it a bit hard to concentrate, I’m going to pretend I’m justified in wasting some time blogging now :).

Syo and I popped into Fabricland this morning (in her lovely new dress). I wanted to pick up more twill tape and clear elastic. I walked out with four metres of this suiting to make my Lady Grey muslin, a metre of that purple knit with diagonal tartan print, and another metre of a garish poly-lycra knit for Syo to replace the play-value of the fabric that got made into a dress yesterday. For $2/m, I was willing to indulge her. For that matter, the purple was $2.50, and the suiting was only $6/m (clearance from $18). It kinda chokes me spending money on fabric for a muslin, but I wanted something heavier than old bedsheets from Value Village (and old curtains from Value Village would have cost about as much as the suiting :P). Anyway, it’s actually kind of nice, even with that odd super-imposed criss-cross pattern… maybe I’ll feel driven to try and make a wearable muslin after all. We’ll see.

Here’s a question—the purple knit is obviously destined for some kind of top. What kind do you think? Another straight-up Lydia? A cowl neck? I’d love to do another Manequim cowl with sleeves but I can’t quite wrap my mind around adding sleeves to that weird armhole. I’m really not feeling making anything with short sleeves right now ;). The reverse of the fabric is all the lighter-purple colour, which would make a nice contrast binding, I think.

I also bought buttons for the coat.

Bought buttons.

I’m feeling guilty about this because I know just last week I took Tasia up on her super-sweet offer of mailing me some buttons, and they are on their way already. I’m sorry, Tasia! I promise I’ll find a good use for yours, too! But I really liked these ones, and the notions are all 50% off right now, anyway…

Actually, there were a LOT of really nice buttons I’d never noticed before—mostly metal ones, however, and I was looking for something black. I like these because they’re sturdy, black, classic, but have an interesting pattern to them if you look close. All of which may or may not show up in the photographs :P

In Self-Stitched September news, the weather is divine but the morning was still chilly. Also, the leaves started falling yesterday.

Self-Stitched September 27

Leaf fan. Not as impressive as the idea was in my head.

Top: Quick Cowl Top from Burdastyle.com, and the ubiquitous Cardi-wrap (I need one of these in black or ivory—something a little more neutral than red. Not that I don’t dig the red, but there’s certain wardrobe items it doesn’t go with.)

Bottom: the Jaie 2908 capris again. You bet I’m gonna get as much wear as I can out of these this week.

Self-Stitched September 27

Communing with autumn

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Lullabye, and good night…

Bambi nightie

Bambi nightie

So nice to work on something that isn’t massively long and involved and impossible to finish (like the coat).

This is made out of that same black cotton with a woven-texture stripe as the black JJ and the halter-top. I still have a bit left, however. My hope is that the kind of relaxed texture will make the wrinkles not drive me totally crazy like the last cotton nightgown I owned. We’ll see. As this was basically a wearable muslin, I’m not going to complain. Did I mention I cut out the 34? (I am so not a Burda 34). However, due to the stretchy back, it works fine, although it’s pretty snug to wiggle into. But I think that has more to do with the narrowness of the back elasticized panel—a lot of the other people who’ve made it mentioned the same issue.

Bambi nightie

I pretty much followed the instructions for construction (other than my technique for elasticizing the back), and I wish I hadn’t. If I’d had a modicum more forethought, I would’ve been able to finish all the seams on the inside smoothly. As it is I ended up with a seam below the bust that I had to zig-zag and just press down. Not exactly awful (considering half the time I don’t finish my seams at all), but a little irksome when with a minor pattern alteration all that extra could be tucked up inside the bust pieces or something. Something to think about when/if I make this again.

Burda recommends you zig-zag over round elastic for the back panel; several other people have used shirring with good result. I was going to shirr, but realized I have no black elastic thread. So rather than waiting for me to get around to running to Fabricland, I decided to insert several lengths of regular 3/4″ elastic and stitch casings for them. Not a terribly scientific process, but it worked, and the result is not strikingly unattractive.

Bambi nightie

Back view

Downside of a tight black nightie: it gets those awful white shed-skin/deoderant lines on it pretty badly from rubbing against myskin as I pull it on.

Of course, I won’t be able to sleep in it until tonight, which will be the real

Bambi nightie: Elasticized back panel

test :).

In Self-Stitched September news, the weather has actually improved and it’s pretty nice out today, so I wore the capris for one final go. The air is fairly warm but the clouds are keeping it from heating up really fast—the opposite of our usual “the air is cool but the sun is hot” thing. It’s kinda creepy, but I’m not going to complain.

Self-stitched September 25

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Minor movement

Today was my official return to public life. Or, at least, life that doesn’t involve spending about eighteen hours a day in bed. Kids are off school (four day weekend…. ugh, what’s up with my state-sponsored daycare system, as my mother used to say). Had parent-teacher meetings which went well—for both kids, which is unusual. Bought a rather frightening amount of groceries (yes, the cash crisis has eased, at least for the moment. Tomorrow I will pay a frightening amount of bills, too)  And, I actually made some pretense of sewing. Not, of course, my winter coat (still no buttons, haven’t decided what to do about the buttonholes). Nor have I progressed in tracing out the Lady Grey pattern (not that I have muslin fabric or regular coat fabric for that, either, mind you) No, smarty-pants that I am, I spied the thread for a Pyjama Sew-Along on PR and just had to jump in. Now, I have been wishing most of this past week that I had self-stitched pyjamas, and I definitely need pyjamas (I have three nighties, only one of which is actually cute)… but really, I should be working on either the Lady Grey prep or my big coat. Or, y’know, the talk I’m supposed to be giving at this conference in a couple of weeks. Ulp.

But we won’t talk about that. No, we’re going to talk about Bambi.

Bambi nightie top

Bambi nightie bust pieces and straps

Not really much to say. Cute (I’m not going to make those arm flounces…)… free. I like free patterns. I decided to cut the 34, despite my measurements being squarely in the 36 range, because I often have to take stuff in through the bust. We’ll see if this was a wise decision. I’m a little nervous about the shirred back-panel providing the right amount of stretch, but I guess we’ll just have to see. I should probably have straightened the princess seams on the cups for a slight SBA… we’ll call this version the wearable muslin, before I break out the crazy silks. From, y’know, my huge stash of expensive luxury fabrics. Anyway, so far I have the bust pieces put together. Big whoop. But, considering that just walking around the grocery store for a couple hours this afternoon almost put me out, I’m going to call it a productive day.

In Self-Stitched September news, the parent-teacher conference gave me an excuse to dress up nice. Mmm, I love this combination.

Self-Stitched September 24

Lydia and Danielle layered on top, Jalie jeans beneath

For the sake of the photos I figured I’d accessorize. This is a vintage mink-trimmed coat my sister-in-law gave her; she got it from her father, and I have absolutely no idea whence it came beyond that except it’s old. It’s got the oddest stand to the collar, too, that appears to have been hand-stitched down, although that’s the only obvious couture thing about it. It really is a lovely coat, other than the sleeves being about an inch too long, and I wish I went off to the symphony or the theatre (NOT the local cineplex, either) more often so I would have a reason to wear it. Ironically, today is pretty much the first day all month I didn’t need a jacket of any kind to go out in, but it was still fun to model.

Self-Stitched September 24

Accessories: nifty mink-trimmed coat, vintage; kick-ass boots, Walmart.

Self-Stitched September 24

Hmm. Do I need to mow my grass one last time?

Self-Stitched September 24

I was going for cute and demure. A girl can dream, right?

You can tell I had a lot of fun taking these, because there’s way too many of them. There’s a few more on Flickr itself.

Now, I’d better go do some family time before I get in (even more) trouble, but I wanted to bang this out before I fall over after my Big Day Back. Talk to you tomorrow!

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Something old, something blue…

tribal showing hip tucks

Bellydance belt and headband

Not at all wedding-related, in case you were wondering.

Since the sewing’s been slow (aka non-existent) with me this week, I thought I’d pad things out with a retrospective piece.

This is a headband-and-belt set I made five years or so ago, as a costuming element for American Tribal-Style Bellydance—not the only style I do, but probably my favourite (I should note here, since a lot of the elements of adornment I used in this derive from First Nations and Native American traditional arts, that ATS bellydance has nothing at all to do with any group of native americans. It was invented by a white lady in San Francisco and utilizes elements of traditional bellydance, flamenco, and east Indian dance). This particular set is a knock-off I mean inspired by the early costuming of a Tribal Fusion bellydance group called The Indigo, and if you’re not a bellydancer that’s probably so much gibberish so I won’t go into it. It’s probably my absolute fave piece of costuming, ever.

There was little, if any, machine sewing involved in these pieces; a fair bit of hand-sewing, and a LOT of beading.

I made the patterned bands of beads on a bead loom. This is one of my favourite forms of

Left: commercial bead loom. Right: home-made bead loom my mom made me when I was twelve for so.

beading—it’s comparatively quick, and you can make lovely patterns without too much thought. I don’t think there’s anyway I could have hand-beaded the entire thing this densely without shooting myself.

My mom made me the bead loom on the right when I was twelve for so, around the time I discovered a box of beads and some bands she had created herself at some point in the past (my mom is a worse hobby-slut than I am). And I banded merrily away for awhile until I reached the same unhappy realization that I cam to with cross-stitch: when I was done, I had all these little bands of bead work, and nothing I really cared to do with them. So I was pretty stoked, a decade or so later, to come up with the idea of using them in this outfit. The nice thing about tribal bellydance is you can pretty much throw anything into the mix and make it work.

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Headband with flowers, bead medallions, and cowrie falls.

Anyway, the band patterns are variations of greek key, which is a pattern I love because a) it’s gorgeous, and b) it’s found all over the world, despite the name. The centerpiece on the headband is a Hand of Fatima, which is a symbol of protection and good luck; it’s a stylized hand with an eye in the palm, though the eye didn’t show up very well, I’m afraid (and also really beautiful… and pretty much my only nod to the middle Eastern origins of bellydance in this particular ensemble).

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Headband beading

The belt is based on simple rectangles of layered denim, covered with black cotton velvet; the headband I glued a a stick-on felt backing, which works well for not sliding around and was quick, but was a bad idea for ending up with glue showing on the upper side of the beads as they rotate. It would’ve been better to quilt it down to a sturdy piece of felt (or more of the cotton velvet) by hand, especially since I ended up going over all the edges to apply more beads anyway.

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Hand of Fatima

The beaded medallions were made of slightly larger beads hand-sewn to plastic canvas circles like these ones here. This took the longest and probably drove me the most nuts of any part of this project. It was BORING! I believe these, like the bead-bands and the dress-jingles, are also nods to Native American crafts, though not ones I’m personally familiar with, unlike the bead-bands and the dress-jingles. Again I used a variety of spiraling motifs.

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Beaded medallion

The little mirrors embroidered on the belt and at the centres of the beaded medallions are generally called shisha and are common in (east) Indian adornment. I lurve them. If you find ones that were actually made in India or thereabouts, spend some time looking for lettering on the glass—often it’s

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Shisha mirror

some fragment of “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. I love that! Mine, on the other hand, come from mosaic supplies found easily (but not nearly so thriftily) at Michael’s. My embroidery holding them down is fairly crude compared to the real thing, but again, I’m an impatient North American. It was also another handy use for that long-hoarded cross-stitch embroidery floss ;).

Also, you can see an example of my love for decorating stuff with buttons.

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Belt ornament, from left to right: dress jingles, narrow beaded strip, buttons, wide beaded strip, shisha mirrors

I finished the bottom of the belt with some small dress-jingles. I purchased these at a tiny little shop in my hometown; the lady makes moccasins and mukluks and sells powow costume supplies. I felt so authentic! They’re smaller than a lot of the ones you see on costumes, but I love them that way. Figuring out how to attach them with yarn, as opposed to the traditional leather fringe, was a bit of a trick, and involved threading beads on the yarn, popping them inside the little cones, and then squishing the narrow end of the cone with pliers so the beads couldn’t get back out again.

The belt---on. An OLD picture

Then, of course, there’s the yarn. You could not (at least at the time I was making this) have a fringe belt like this without having this kind of chunky, variable yarn. In this case, I combined two yarns, both souvenirs—the purple/blue bought at a yarn shop in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the tan/cream bought at a yarn shop in Ottawa, Ontario. Possibly I could’ve found the same stuff in my home-town, but a) I never went looking, and b) it’s much more fun to say you found it while travelling.

Blue-beaded dance headband & belt

Bead and cowrie falls on headband

Hmm. I think that mostly covers it. Oh, there’s also the cowrie falls on the headband. My mom put these cowrie shells in my stocking one year. Cowrie falls are about as integral to this look as the slubby yarn is, and there were (probably still are) about a million tutorials out there on how to make them, so I won’t go into it. It’s not hard. I do think they finish off the headband nicely, though.

Here’s another action shot to leave you with:

In action, 2008

And you can find more closeups of the pieces here.

Whew! Although I’m feeling much better, even sitting up to write this post is enough to exhaust me.  So I’ll leave you with some blurry SSS pics, they’re from yesterday but I’m wearing the same thing again today. I know, not even spacing out the repeats, but considering I’ve only been dressed for about three hours/day most of this week, I’m not going to feel too bad about it. I think I am kinda hitting self-stitched exhaustion, however. I’ll be glad to get a bit more variety back into the old wardrobe next month.

Self-Stitched September, day 22

Self-Stitched September, day 22 & 23

I know, the focus is crap, but that’s probably a good thing ;).

Self-Stitched September, day 22

Self-Stitched September, day 22 & 23

Top is the short-sleeved Lydia, which I’d actually almost forgotten about; it has the same gapy problem around the bust from the too-long armscye, but the short sleeves don’t seem to bind as much as the full-length ones do, and wearing it with the Bullet-Proof Bra does seem to help “fill it out” a bit. Of course I mainly wear knit tops so I won’t need a bra, so combining the two is a bit counter-intuitive in my books, but if it makes a wadder workable, I’ll go with it. For now.

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