Tag Archives: too much talk

Teeny little fix

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Over a year ago, I spent a slightly obscene, K-Line-worthy amount of money on this bra. It’s gorgeous, and when I tried it on, the fit was perfect—on the tightest hook, because it was a 32″ band and really, according to the bra-shop ladies, I should be wearing a 30″ band. Fortunately, they also offered free alteration with the purchase, and it would be quite easy to have it altered (and I hate altering things myself)—so, when I picked it up the next week, the bra was as gorgeous as ever, but the band was, invisibly, mysteriously, just a little shorter. Yay!

Except, when I got it home and put it on, something that I hadn’t noticed at all when trying it on happened—the wires dug in like CRAZY between the breasts. To the point where I couldn’t wear it after a few minutes, never mind all day. What the heck? How had I missed this at trying on? I was dismayed. Not to mention upset at the wasted money—no returns on altered bras, my friends.

But what could have gone wrong? It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t notice a little fit issue until you’ve worn something awhile, but this didn’t feel like that. This was too big a problem to have missed. So, perhaps it was a problem that hadn’t existed when I tried the bra on the first time. What had changed? Only the band length. How would that affect the wires digging in?

I examined the bra more closely. Sure enough, the bridge between the cups was distinctly stretchy. With the added tension on the band, I surmised that the bridge was stretching, too, throwing off the angle of the cups.

Did I mention I hate alterations? So it then sat in my underwear drawer for a year or so. Finally, in a fit of wardrobe purging this staycation, it had to either get fixed or go. I grabbed the first thing to come to hand, a scrap of silk charmeuse with some selvedge, and stitched a stay across the inside of the bridge. I think the silk will be perfect, strong and soft but not bulky.

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And tried it on and—no pokies!!!!

Not a glamorous or time-consuming bit of sewing, I know, but I wanted to document it just because it seemed like such a strange thing to throw off the fit of a bra. And such an easy fix. Why do we avoid these little chores so long? (Or am I the only one?)

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Somebody Else’s Handmade Dress (II)

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I bought an old dress.

Apparently, my Value Village now has a “Vintage” section. Apparently I am a sucker, and bought a dress, which I may well not wear. Because it was nifty, and handmade. And it makes me think about the kind of blog post whoever it was sewed it, might have written, had there been sewing blogs back in the 60s. Finds like this always make me want to trot over to the Vintage Pattern Wiki and hunt down the pattern. Unfortunately for you guys, all the photos were taken by Syo on the iPhone, so are pretty much terrible (more to do with lighting and iPhone than Syo). I miss the days when I had time and space to take actual good photos (and then edit them properly), but at this point it’s largely iPhone photos or no photos.

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Woo crazy hair

I assume it’s 60s. The construction is straight out of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It’s a green lace underlined with what is currently a rather beige lining (either rayon or a much nicer species of polyester than I’m used to.) I love the hem detail with the buttons (is that a flounce at the bottom or an extra-extra dropped waist?), not so much the high neck with the placket-yoke-thing.

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Problems with the facing rolling out.

Despite her careful understitching, the facings have a tendency to roll out. Obviously they’ve been doing this a long time—she hand-stitched around below the understitching to try and keep everything in place. She even went as far as to handstitch much of the facing down to the underlining.

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Side-ish view

It’s a classic 60s sheath, high cut neckline, straight profile, with steep, curving French darts that reach the side seam somewhere around my hips. The dart placement is pretty good on me, but the tips are a little high. Presumably whoever made it was a shorty. Or very perky.

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French darts

It’s a touch roomy in the bust, and a touch tight through the hips. Although possibly that’s just from all the chocolate I ate over Christmas.

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Back view

The yoke wraps around to the back of the neck. I bet there was a version on the pattern image with big buttons on the front.

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Front placket

It’s trimmed in lace, which just barely stands out from the rest of the lace texture. I guess she was going for subtle. I do wonder how the colours have faded over time. Did it originally match better? Was the lining always a pale, nude under-layer, or did it used to be a brighter, seafoamy colour?

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Lapped zipper

Our unknown seamstress did a killer lapped zipper. Teeny and neat!

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“Design feature”

Maybe the coolest feature is this little wedge pieced in at the side of the skirt. My first thought was that she needed a little extra room in the booty, but the piece is only on one side and doesn’t extend into the flounce, so my next thought is that she either was trying to squeeze the pattern out of too little fabric or, had it folded to cut and didn’t notice that a little wedge was missing on the under-side. C’mon, I know you’ve done that too. Can you imagine how much she swore when she figured that out? Or maybe she was an old hand, and just sighed and pieced it in and trusted the texture of the lace to keep anyone from noticing. Although I notice the lace is running in the other direction—which makes me think she was probably short of fabric.

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Bottom “flounce”

Look at that bright green hem-tape! Did the dress really fade that much? Or was it always meant to be a fun flash of colour?

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Hemming with seam binding (and handstitching)

The edges are tucked under and hand-stitched to the underlining, so the finishing is invisible on the right side. Also those buttons are great.

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Running out of hem tape.

But look at the other side of the hem—d’oh! More swearing, echoing down the decades. Running out of that perfect colour of hem-tape just a few inches from the end! Obviously, she made do. One does.

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Happy. Grainy, but happy.

I love examining vintage construction (when I run across it, which admittedly isn’t often). There’s one more weird feature, that I didn’t get a good picture of—the inside of the front, under the yoke, has a big slash cut in it. At first I thought the lining had just given out from age, but the cut goes right through the lace, which is quite sturdy, and is very straight in the lace (more frayed in the lining). So maybe the yoke is a cover-up for some earlier mistake? Or maybe there was the option of an opening in the placket, and our seamstress decided against it mid-construction? (There’s a centre seam down the middle of the yoke that makes me think an opening option would be likely. Unless she really was just that short of fabric.) Or maybe it was cut into at some later date… the neatness with which she hand-finished all the other mods makes me surprised she didn’t at least overcast or otherwise neaten those raw edges.

I love these little mysteries. Problem solving, or design feature? We’ll never know…

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Madly off in all directions

Despite actually having a wee bit of time that could’ve been spent sewing this weekend, I instead dithered to the point of getting almost nothing done.

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I have started a Hallowe’en outfit—not really a costume, but a fun outfit. Above will become a neon green crinoline.

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And then the blouse will be this spiderweb lace.

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This is the pile of various knits that I want to become leggings and underwear and other handy basics for the fast-impending winter.

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My Victorian obsession continues apace. My post-birthday splurge on some Truly Victorian patterns arrived. But I really can’t even start fantasizing about the outer layers before my underpinnings are under way. The pantaloons are finished (photos pending) so the next logical step should be the chemise, but of course the corset is far more fun to fantasize about even though I haven’t pulled the trigger on ordering the necessary hardware.

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I’m actually contemplating two corsets, one sedate and underwearly, and one more glamorous, using this gorgeous scrap of red and gold brocade that’s too narrow for much of anything else.

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I’m leaning towards this pattern for the chemise, as it appears most similar to the chemise instructions in my Victorian sewing texts—although the same texts refer to patterns that are available that have more shaping.

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This cotton batiste is ready to go whenever I stop dithering. Also a selection of lace.

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But of course what I really should be working on is this pair of jeans for my niece, whose birthday is tomorrow.

/sigh.

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To infinity and beyond!

Today, my Dad dropped off a slightly bittersweet present: the sewing machine that belonged to his mother. My grandma* (who gave me these quilts and also this fabric) is moving from her small senior’s apartment to an even smaller room in a care home, where there will be people around a little more continuously. I’m sad for her, (especially giving up her machine) but hopeful that she’ll be well taken care of.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet

I hadn’t really thought much about her machine. The last time I snooped it, I think I was nine or ten, and I remember being unimpressed. Obviously my tastes are a little more refined these days, because now I find it quite charming in that mid-century way.

Buzz Lightyear, eat your heart out.

Buzz Lightyear, eat your heart out.

I once claimed my other grandma’s machine looked like a rocket ship. Well, this one is DEFINITELY going to the moon. Actually, the comparison between the two machines is kinda fascinating, since as far as I can tell they were both purchased within a year or two of each other in the early sixties. My maternal grandma—okay, I give up, I’m going to call her Grandma South—‘s machine is a Japanese-made Singer 15 clone, a sturdy old-fashioned straight-stitcher dressed up with a nice coat of paint and some cute decals. Kinda like a horse and buggy sporting racing fins. My paternal grandma (henceforth, Grandma North)’s machine, on the other hand, is full of newfangled gadgetness.

We Are New Technology

We Are New Technology

It starts with this proud patent label. This is not your Grandma’s sewing machine, Grandma. Er.

Mysterious Dial.

Mysterious Dial. The wrong settings probably bring on planetary destruction.

But seriously. Aside from the zig-zag, it has what looks like a plate for cams on the top (I have no cams, but my Dad thinks there’s another box of odds ‘n ends that are sewing-machine related still back at his house, so I shall live in hope for another day or two). And a very mysterious dial. I hope there’s a manual in there, too. Although I can ask Grandma, if push comes to shove.

Drop in bobbin.

Drop in bobbin.

And it has a drop in bobbin. I had no idea these went back to the early sixties—I feel kinda like an archaeologist who unsealed the Pharaoh’s tomb only to find Pharaoh buried with his iPhone.

Remove, Darn, and Stitch

Remove, Darn, and Stitch

I have not actually tried any sewing with it yet, although I presume it’s in working order—it’s been a while since Grandma made a quilt, but I imagine she’s mended the odd thing. Speaking of which, I had assumed this lever dropped the feed dogs, since it says “darn” in the middle position (machine darning being like free-motion quilting, usually done with the feed-dogs dropped). Well, it doesn’t. What it does is lift the needle-plate. If you move the lever all the way to the left, it pops the needle plate right out. Crazy, no? I’m presuming this is one of those aforementioned “patents” that didn’t catch on like wildfire… but maybe I’m naive. Anyone else ever seen a machine that “dropped” the feed dogs by raising the needle plate?

Grandma's Pantry

Grandma’s Pantry

In addition to the machine, I was handed two large boxes from Grandma’s kitchen. Mostly food, dried pantry stuff, which is nice enough, although I have no idea what I’m going to do with three bags of shredded coconut. Unless I find Grandma’s recipe for Coconut Mountains**, which were one of the highlights of the Christmas season of my childhood, but that seems a lot like work, and baking would take away from my sewing time. Anyway, much of the stuff we can use, and eventually use up—but it included the contents of the spice cabinet, a random array of little bottles, some of which are older than I am, although I’m going to assume that the contents have been consumed and replaced many times over the years. Anyway, I find them adorable in their slightly gungy glory. I have no idea what I’ll do with most of them, however.

*I grew up calling both my grandmothers “Grandma.”  This makes it a little awkward in the context of the blog, since it’s not immediately obvious that I’m not talking about my maternal grandmother, whose machines I’ve already scoped out here. My kids are much luckier, having a Momo and a Gigi and a Nanny (sometimes referred to as Kokum).

**A search for “Coconut Mountains” only turned up this recipe. These look nothing like the things my Grandma made (I’m not convinced hers were even baked) but I suppose the idea is similar. Grandma’s always had the tips dipped in chocolate “snow”

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Baby Steps

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Of the organizational variety, that is.

In the wake of the Wedding Sewing Marathon, I’ve been attempting to regroup with a bit of tidying. I’ll warn you, this does not come naturally to me, and what with the inundation of my sewing space (the waters have receded but the entire area remains damp and untrustworthy) and the other upheavals of the last year, well, I can’t find ANYTHING. Or rather, I find it one day, nod sagely to myself and go “okay, there it is!” and then promptly loose it again. I even lost a sewing machine last week—you know things are pretty bad when. (Don’t worry, I found it.)

So, I took the plunge. Okay, maybe dabbled my little toes in. I bought a couple of sturdy, transparent Rubbermaid tubs. I wish I had the funds to buy a jillion more, but I’m hoping if I can buy one each time I’m at the grocery store, I’ll have enough to keep everything in by, oh, Christmas. /sigh.

One tub is already full of the fabric that had migrated up to the sewing room* during the wedding sewing. I want enough of those to sort my fabrics by type again—I haven’t had that since before we left Calgary.

The second tub, pictured above, is holding patterns. It’s not quite deep enough—a half inch more would be perfect—but I think it will do, at least for the regular-sized envelopes. The contents are sorted, roughly, by company. I’m pretty sure I can fill at least two or three more of these tubs just with patterns. My name is Tanit-Isis and I am a pattern-aholic.

While sorting patterns, I’ve also been working on transferring my pattern info, which I’ve been tracking in a phone app called Sewing Kit (as reviewed here), into a different app, MyStuff2 (as recommended by several commenters in my review of Sewing Kit). Although Sewing Kit worked fairly well for me for a long time, once I got to about 500 patterns I found it crashed more and more and more. It still has one or two features that MyStuff2 can’t replicate, and MyStuff2 takes some setting up to get the categories and attributes all the way you’d like, but if I can’t use Sewing Kit because it always crashes, it doesn’t do me much good. I don’t have MyStuff2 up to 500 patterns yet, but by all reports it’s a much more reliable program all around (people use it to categorize all kinds of things—it’s actually really awesome for books and movies because you can scan the barcode), so I’m hopeful that all will be well.

I’m going to need another shelving unit for sure, but I’m optimistic if I can get the fabric and patterns tubbed up, I can re-organize notions and thread and things into the other plastic-drawer-storage unit I already have and then maybe, just maybe, be able to actually find things. Of course, what I really should be doing is tracking the fabric stash, so I can paw through that digitally… but somehow it’s not as satisfying as tracking the patterns.

Of course, assuming I get everything organized, then there’s the task of KEEPING it organized. Which always seems to be the one that defeats me. Aiee.

*Formerly the computer room. My husband is not happy about this.

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Not dead.

Life.

Life.

Although that might be easier. Er, not. Quite.

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

To start with the good news, the serger survived her little bath. I left it a week, silica gel-packs stuffed inside (although it occurred to me later that the key part is probably the motor, which is actually mounted on the back, not inside where the gel packs were. I tried to get the cover off the motor but the bolts holding it on were not cooperative and I didn’t want to strip them. So I waited.) Anyway, when I finally dared to start it up a day or two ago, after cleaning and oiling (although I really don’t think the water touched anything that actually moved…), she was fine. Aside from her recurring tension problems, anyway. (I continue playing with the bit of extra thread wrapped around the  needle-thread tension disc.) The White (which is my main sewing machine right now despite being a little temperamental) has some rust on the foot pedal I don’t think was there before, but everything is working.

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Which is good because I have a month to finish Epona’s wedding dress and five bridesmaid dresses. Holy fucking cow. And work is likely to be at least somewhat insane during that time, too. On the up side, the wedding dress itself is pretty simple (the practice version took two days to sew up, obviously I’d like a bit more time with the real thing) and I could’ve had the first of the bridesmaids dresses finished last night if I hadn’t kept stopping to watch bits of “Oz the Great and Powerful” with the kids and hubs.

Bridesmaid dress bodice... in progress

Bridesmaid dress bodice… in progress.

Which kids are done school now. so no peaceful days of working at home, unless I can manage to bribe my MIL to take them to the lake for a week or something.

Wedding dress back. I'm kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Practice wedding dress back. I’m kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Speaking of the children, it has now been over a decade since I was last pregnant. Happy birthday, Syo!

Syo is now ten.

Syo is now ten.

And I have a late birthday dress cut out for the Waif, but unlikely to be sewn up until the wedding is done. DAMN.

Waif's birthday dress.

Waif’s birthday dress.

Waif just turned five. It is a size 3 pattern. I added an inch of length to the bodice, but it will probably still be too wide. Going for the middle view, of course.

And as a result, I’m spending all my “free time” ogling corset forums and adding and removing things from my fantasy cart at Farthingales.

How’s your summer going, stitchers?

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Me-Made-May: Week One

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Oh what could that be…

This is the sum total of my sewing this week. Not enough to write about, frankly. Maybe I need to start writing about all my imaginary sewing. I do boatloads of that. It takes even longer to write about, though. /sigh.

So in lieu of real sewing, let’s have some Me-Made-May pics!

Starting it with a bang

Day 1: the red polkadot dress and my vintage shrug. Heads up: you are probably going to get SO SICK of my little shrugs this month. I have been wearing the snot out of them this winter.

Me Made Morning

Day 2—I’ve been having some leisurely mornings this winter—the kids have gotten much more self-reliant (they get up on their own! They make their own lunches!) and I don’t need to be on a train at 7:30 am. So instead of bouncing straight into my clothes, I’ve been experimenting with “comfies”… in particular my (still unblogged!) Jalie 3022 fleece pants. (It might be easier to get these blogged if I didn’t only wear them when I’m bleary-eyed and crazy-haired.) Seriously… I reach for these nearly every day. Just for fun, I decided to keep with the colour scheme and add in my cardi-wrap and red Jalie twist top. The twist top is a pretty-much-wadder (I did a bad job on the neck binding), so this is definitely MMM getting me to reach for something I would ordinarily pass by. The cardi hasn’t gotten much wear since I wore it while cutting out fabric one day and *snip* cut a little hole in the front drape. But it’s fine for bumming around in the morning.

Day 2, daytime

After I got myself together, it was not much more glamorous. Jalie jeans, Lekala knit top. Although I’m so enjoying the weather that’s perfect for my Springy Coat. (Can I just say, the timer app I downloaded to get delayed photos on my iPhone sucks?!? Anyone got a suggestion that takes photos at actual resolution, not this pixelated crap?)

Another morning shot

Day 3 morning: Those fleece pants again, Blank Canvas Tee, and Vogue muslin-cum-sweater. I swear I’m done with the morning shots, at least unless I get some different comfies into rotation.

Day 3—Water

Day 3 day—in honour of the Friday Theme of water, I got the last remaining snowbank in my front yard. I think it’s gone now. Four me-mades here: Jalie capris, Springy Coat, flutter-sleeve Blank Canvas Tee, and basic tank top.

A lazy day.

Day 4—The MMM must be getting to me, because I actually reached for my Jalie twist top again. And those same Jalie jeans again; they are one of my two staple pairs at the moment. This picture really shows how they’ve worn (not quite worn out, but getting there) since their first unveiling.

Out and About (NOT oot and aboot!)

Day 5—Sunday was full of family activities. Brunch with my dads, visiting Stylish in the afternoon, and then dinner at Crafty’s house in the evening for my father-in-law’s birthday. I wore Funnygrrl’s dress, which, yes, got very grubby with all the running around, and my cropped jean jacket. I also got my first sunburn of the year (blerg.) Apparently we did not stop at spring, go directly to summer. Not complaining, mind you.

Monday

Day 6—70s tunic and the other set of Jalie capris. Capris last a lot longer than jeans for me, since they only get worn a few months a year.

Another unforgivably pixelated picture.

Day 7. Not a glamorous day. Running errands and working from home. Yet another set of Jalie jeans, the cardi-wrap makes another appearance, and my quick refashioned Miocene Park tank. I didn’t get a picture, but I wore these pantaloons to my dance class as well:

Loons

Which brings us to the end of Week One. Here’s hoping for better photos, and more fun outfits in the future.

One of the big reasons for Me Made May is to help us identify gaps in our self-stitched wardrobe. Besides the obvious (I still have not conquered self stitched undies), some needs I’ve identified this week:

  • cropped, WARM jacket suitable for wearing with fluffy dresses. (warmer than a jean jacket, anyway.)
  • knit tees that aren’t ancient.
  • a new pair of jeans. The youngest of these is over two years old now, and only the capris are still darn-and-repair free.

It’s also highlighted to me how much silly sewing I’ve done in the past year. Very few of these me-mades are recent makes, with the exception of the fleece pants. I guess I can get away with it, though, right? I was so good and practical the first few years I was sewing.

Now, the next question is… what to wear today? :D

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