Monthly Archives: September 2010

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. 😛 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, 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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Lady Grey Muslin… on your mark, get set…

So, I have dryer-steamed my “muslin” fabric. I attempted a tissue-fit of the pattern, with limited success, but I did decide to shorten the waist slightly and do a small swayback adjustment before I begin. Probably I should’ve done an SBA to start, too, but we’ll see. May I just say that swayback adjustments do scary thing to pattern pieces?

Anyway, yesterday I managed to cut out the pieces for the muslin and get the bodice, at least, sewn together.

I won’t post them up to the group until I get the sleeves and collar sewn on, but I couldn’t resist a quick preview for you guys (and myself).

The biggest issue I see is need for further swayback work. There’s also a slight gaping/sagging of the lapels at the front, but the princess-seam curve works surprisingly well (the whole time I was cutting it out, I was thinking “this is a really intense princess curve. It’s totally not going to fit me.” Once I get done butchering the swayback, I think I will need to lengthen the back hem by a couple of inches.

Now, my bust and hip measurements correspond to a Colette size 0. My waist, by contrast, is a size 6. So I was really worried about this coat wrapping around enough to sit properly. Also, since my shoulders are fairly broad (or at least, since I definitely do not have a C cup), I decided to cut the size 2. I thought this *might* give me a better fit than the 0 which is presumably designed for someone with a larger bust hung on a smaller frame. Additionally, when I shortened the waist, I did my best to remove/widen the smallest part of the waist, although it didn’t amount to more than a few milimetres at any given seam, so I’m not sure if it’s noticeably affecting the fit. It seems like there might be a little too much width across the back now, but I don’t really want to mess with that until after I’ve got the sleeves attached.

Anyway, please share any thoughts you have. Hopefully I’ll have the sleeves attached, hems pressed up, etc. by the end of the day to post to the flickr group 🙂


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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 😛

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, 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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Mellow yellow

Syo's Yellow Sundress

Back around my birthday, when I was feeling splurgy, I let Syo pick out a metre of fabric from the bargain section at Fabricland. She chose a soft, super-stretchy, lycra-y border-print in yellow stripes trimmed in flowers. We got home, and she picked out a pattern, New Look 6195, a kids’ sundress Ip icked up at Value Village. I settled down and traced out a size 7 (length 8)… and there the project sat, although the fabric got plenty of use as a blanket, veil, fairy wings, shawl, cloak, cocoon, and pretty much anything else a creative seven-year-old could do with it.


This afternoon, however, Tyo had a friend over, while Syo did not. This (like most of their interactions) was threatening to bring on World War III, so I suggested we make up the dress. This was possibly even better than pissing off her sister, so Syo agreed.

Now, as usual, I am incapable of actually following the instructions (or good sense). The pattern was for a woven. Syo’s fabric is stretchy. VERY stretchy. On top of that, it is one of those pesky border-prints with the border on, y’know, the side. So the only thing to do was have the pieces go crosswise on the fabric. Creating, y’know, maximum vertical stretch. Exactly what you want in a dress.

Nonetheless, we bravely laid it out (man did it shrink a lot in the dryer, too, this took some ingenuity), cut our pieces, ironed interfacing on to the front facing, made the straps (Syo turned them inside out herself. It’s much easier to do in a knit, isn’t it?), and got to work.

It’s a cute sundress pattern. Simple. Not quite sure what purpose


the back seam serves… it has a little shape but really, given the overall A-line of the dress, why bother? They have a very nice technique for sewing the side seams and facing all in one move, which gives you a nice finish and means that there’s absolute no chance to adjust the fit of the elastic before it’s sewn in completely. Which, of course, was too loose being designed for a woven (and probably with too much ease in the original pattern, too) and probably a little big for my rather petite seven-year-old at the best of times.

And then, there is the facing.

Now, I’ve heard facings are a bad idea in knits. As a result, I’ve never done them. This time, I decided to follow the pattern. Well, as you can see, the facing is a problem: it’s showing through like crazy. It was also turning out a bit, though you can’t see this in my rather blurry photos. I have since top-stitched it down at 5/8″ in (to match the elastic casing in the back). This should take care of the roll-over, and I will probably trim the bottom of the facing to match

Front with topstitching

It’s a fairly slapdash effort. Aside from the fudged facing, the elastic back was (inevitably) too long so I took a two inch tuck in it at the centre back, which is kinda bulky but can theoretically be released in a year or two when she grows into it. I left the selvedge at the hem, which has a bit of a lettuce-leaf look that I like. If it doesn’t work out, I may actually lettuce-leaf it at some point, but for now it’s fine. I eyeballed the ties, and it shows, but only if you look close ;). The seams are also a bit puckered, but hopefully that’ll soften up with a wash. The back hem tends to sag quite a bit, I think partly due to the halter cut itself, but certainly not helped along by the heavy, drapy fabric.

Nonetheless, her Sevenness is mighty thrilled. She might even get a chance to wear it, as the forecast is

Sundress back, showing tuck in elastic and the Facing of Doom

looking above-seasonal for the first time since August. We may even make it above 20 for much of the week!

In Self-Stitched September news, the weather has me HAPPY. Syo took the pictures, so they’re not full body, but I promise you those are my blue Jalie capris. Yay! I am getting so darned sick of the two other pairs… 😉


Top: Mannequim cowl top
Bottoms: Jalie 2908 capris

Sun, sweet sun


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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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