Monthly Archives: September 2011

DETOUR! (Or, way too much sewing for my man)

White version from Summer 2010

While I wait for Mr. Isis to deign to try on the muslin for his coat again, I’m stalled on that front. Yes, again.

So, what should I do? Start Hallowe’en costumes? Well, yes, except that I haven’t got the fabric for them yet, and there’s nothing in stash suitable.

I know, I’ll start a shirt for him!

All y’all recall how well the last one went.

Why yes, I am off my rocker, why do you ask? Obviously Her Selfishness needs to start posting more, because I’m clearly suffering badly from unselfish-sewing-itis.

The shirt he actually wears...

In my defense, this is a different shirt pattern than the one I made for the Men’s Shirt Sewalong last winter, which is the one that has never been worn. In fact, it’s the poet-shirt pattern that I made Mr. Isis twice last summer. Those shirts, he wears to death (just don’t let him see the pattern envelope or he’ll never wear any of those shirts again). The knit one is a strictly bumming-around-the-house shirt (and I wince a little every time I see it…), but the crinkle-voile version gets called on frequently for looking spiffy while out (and he does look spiffy in it, I will admit). And probably not long after I finished those two, he may have dropped the hint that he would love a black version.

And sometime last spring, I may even have gotten around to picking up a couple of metres of black cotton voile (which cost quite a lot. Plain black or white cotton voile is one of those fabrics that somehow just doesn’t quite make it to the discount racks I usually haunt…)

And for some reason, today I was itching to get it out of the stash.*

Tracing pattern

Anyway, I pulled it out, spent way too much time ironing (I even ironed my pattern!) and started cutting. Er, I also tried something new. I used my (kinda) new tailor’s chalk thingy to trace the patterns with weights, rather than pin them down. It works fairly well with this pattern, which I traced onto heavy paper last summer, but I think would be more annoying with tissue. The trick, I gather, is to cut to the inside of the chalk lines once you are cutting out. I’m not sure if it’s a lot faster than pinning, but, well, it was fun at least for a change. I think I will definitely consider giving it a try next time I make a pair of jeans, too, although I think it might be a bad idea with a more shifty, less cooperative fabric.

Jeans, incidentally, are another thing I want to make for my husband. It’s been itching at me for a long time (buying him RTW jeans is kind of like banging your head into the wall repeatedly), but when ElleC sent me this cool men’s jeans pattern back earlier in the summer the itch became almost unbearable. The only reason I haven’t tried to scratch it before now is he kept saying he wanted the coat more. Silly man. And I have plenty of denim in stash.

Stitched-on placket

Anyhoo, there’s not much progress to report yet—everything’s cut out and I did stitch on the front plackets and apply the continuous-lap placket (bias-strip placket), which I now realize is the cheesy, chintzy way of doing a shirt placket, in keeping with the “Learn to Sew” designation of this pattern. Ah, well. I think it works with this style, which has that kind of archaic/romantic/poet/cowboy sort of look.

Incidentally, I *think* I may prefer a cut-on button placket. The main reason this shirt doesn’t have one is that the original pattern isn’t actually buttoned all the way down. Which you can’t tell by looking at the pattern envelope—but that’s a whole ‘nother beef.

Continuous-lap plackets (rather fuzzy pic)

I’ll leave you with that. We just had the most fabulous Last-Day-of-September weather I think I’ve ever experienced in my life (daytime high of 26C) and tomorrow it’s not supposed to make it into double digits! Yay, spastic weather! So maybe there’ll be more stitching tomorrow…

*It has occurred to me that if we’re going to be moving next summer, it would behoove me to do some serious stash-whittling over the winter. This is rather saddening because I’ve really enjoyed building my stash, and it’s just now reaching a “mature” level where I can often have a loose concept in mind and shop the stash rather than having to run out to the fabric store. I really like this, honestly. It may be indulgent, but I like that freedom. As ElleC says, stash fabric, like excess patterns, is an important part of our fantasy lives.

In any case, it’s going to be very un-fantastic to box up.



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Halowe’en Costumes

Oh, dear.

Yes, folks, that time of year is upon us. If my kids weren’t vibrating at supersonic levels with anticipation, Joy’s efficiency in this area would have gotten me thinking about it. (Ok to my relief part of her “efficiency” is Ren Faire coming up…)

The thing is, I HATE sewing Hallowe’en costumes.

Frankly, my motivation to sew anything that’s going to be used just once is pretty much nil. Costumes, which generally need to fabulous in their details to be impressive, are among the worst of these (dance costumes, which are usable over and over again, are a whole nother story). Wedding gowns, similarly uninspiring. Although I might consider making my own wedding gown, if I ever decide to have a wedding.

And yet…

The idea of paying thirty or forty or fifty bucks for an off-the-rack costume that looks like crap, is constructed like crap, out of crap materials, KILLS MY SOUL.

So, although we bought various costume props the other day, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy any actual costumes. It looks like I’m going to be sewing them, again.


It probably won’t save me any money, but at least I won’t feel quite so awful about flushing money down the drain.

In any case, the kids have made their choices. And they’d better stick with it, darnit.

Buffy (from the movie)

Syo wants to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is great, except that her image of Buffy comes primarily from the TV show, which means aside from a blonde wig and a stake she could wear nearly anything. Which on the one hand is great—street clothes, weather appropriate!—but on the other hand hardly counts as costume. So I think I convinced her (a la original Buffy movie) that a cheerleader costume is necessary to go with the stake. Now I need to make a cheerleader costume. Except she’s already picked out a cute (but not very cheerleader-esque) skirt. So I may be stymied. Grum. Anyway, it appears that some yellow, and possibly blue, spandex is in order. >_<


Tyo, on the other hand, kept morphing. We started with Ninja (great except for the whole black part). I was lobbying for “White Ninja”, and thought I had her convinced, but then she started talking about a schoolgirl/ninja look that seemed to be lifted directly from Sucker Punch’s Babydoll (have I mentioned how many times this film has been watched at our house?). Sure enough, when asked directly, she guiltily confessed, and now I’m wondering why she felt the need to dance around it. Adolescents are weird.

Hmm, kinda notice that aside from the colour-scheme and weapons, these are basically the same costume? And they’re both going to be really fun to make weather-appropriate (I’m not even going to go into age-appropriate. While I sort-of-generally agree that our preteens should not be going around looking like utter tramps, the whole “modesty” subject makes me twitchy and want to throw things.) On the other hand, they won’t be any worse than the Betty-Boop and Ballerina Witch of a few years back, and the Hallowe’ens here have not usually been that bad. (Cue curmudgeonly rant: Kids these days! No idea of what Hallowe’en USED to be like! When I was a kid it was ALWAYS snowy on Hallowe’en! I remember trick-or-treating in a blizzard, darnit! And we carried our own bags of candy, too, block after block! Daddy didn’t bring a wagon for us to empty our bags into when they got heavy! And…)

Grr. Anyway, I need to go buy fabric. I’ve been trying so hard to be good, too. But something white (I’m thinking twill) and some yellow spandex appear to be in order. And maybe a mile or two of glittery trim. /sigh.

Oh, and Tyo informs me Babydoll’s gun has charms hanging from it.


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Frock Coat Muslin

Coat muslin, finished

Once again, I’m not allowed to photograph Mr. Isis in the muslin—heck, I’m barely allowed to PUT him in the muslin, and then it’s off before I have a chance to really check the fit. Argh. Anyway, I shall attempt to write down some notes of the fit so I don’t forget.

So, the good:

  • shoulder breadth is spot on
  • waist length  is good (I shortened 3.5 cm after comparing his neck-waist back measurement to that of the pattern)
  • sleeve length (I lengthened 3 cm in the pattern). I need to remember to add the flap for sleeve vents!
  • overall length is good, although I have to nail him down on that issue (see below).
  • collar fits nicely
  • a nicely small amount of ease in the sleeve-cap.
The bad:
  • Too TIGHT! in select areas.  My well-muscled hubs needs, at minimum, a broad-back adjustment
  • Full biceps adjustment

    and a wide biceps adjustment. The shoulders are really binding—I’m hoping that the broad biceps adjustment, which shortens the sleeve-cap as well as widening the arm, will help with the shoulder binding as well. I may actually just widen the entire sleeve a bit, too—really narrow sleeves is a problem I’ve run into in Lekala patterns before, in Tyo’s coat.

New Inspiration---the Prophecy

The annoying:

  • Christopher Walken in The Prophecy

    the other night hubs comes up with another source of inspiration: the coat worn by Christopher Walken as Gabriel in the movie the Prophecy. Fortunately for my blood pressure, it turns out on research that aside from the buttons and length (Walken’s coat is above the knee, a bit shorter than this one) it’s for all intents and purposes the same coat. However, hubs does need to decide whether he wants a single buttonhole or a bunch down the front. I HATE it when people I’m sewing for try to change the design midway through the process.

Things I still have to check because I don’t have photographs to reference:
  • side-seam (is it straight?)
  • rear vent (does it gape—do I need to add more room in the bottom half?)
  • sleeve length (double-check)
  • how MUCH extra space across the back does he need?
What’s particularly amusing to me is that some of these changes, in particular the shortening of the body and lengthening of the sleeves, are ones that I typically do as well. Which means that our children are probably doomed in this department. Sorry, kids.
And now the ten-million-dollar question—second muslin or not? >_<


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Not an impressive day

Expectation, I suppose, is the problem.

I started today with great expectations. The hubs was working (poor him) so all I had to do was get the house recovered from its weekday-chaos state and then I could sew. The kids had friends over all day, which contributes somewhat to the chaos but a lot more to the “me being left alone”, so everything was great. I had cut and started sewing up the muslin for hubs’ frock/Matrix coat yesterday, so I finished that up pretty quickly.

And then, I was at a loss.

I tend to sew with a bit of a one-track mind—start project, finish project, next project. I don’t multitask well at the best of times. And usually this works fairly well. But my brain was oozing COAT, and I couldn’t do any more on the coat until hubs came home and deigned to try it on—which could take days.

Fingers twitching, I moved to another project occupying the sewing table, a shirred-bodice dress for Syo using up the last of the fabric from my niece’s Mini-Minnie dress. A little more mindless than I was looking for, but not as exhausting as pulling out, say, a blazer pattern and starting a muslin for me.

Enjoy this picture. This is as good as it gets.

Unfortunately, it was finished in fairly short order.

Flailing, I pulled out fabrics and put them down. Dug through the scrap bin. Hunted for elastics, considering making undies. Eventually pulled out my knit-tee sloper and started to mess around. I’d like to make a cowl-dress like Oona’s. I even have some gorgous red jersey. Oona used Ichigogirl’s cowl-dress pattern, which I’ve made before as a shirt and found a bit too deep-necked for me. I wanted something with a wider, shallower drape. So I traced out my sloper and played around with slashing and spreading.

Cowl neck

I am thinking that slashing and spreading is a REALLY BAD method of getting a cowl that drapes the way you want. I would be better off draping the cowl part on the dummy and somehow merging that with my sloper. Or something. Because I keep coming up with some pretty “meh” cowls… and when I do knock it out of the ballpark, it’s pretty darn accidental.

It’s not awful, but it’s not quite what I was going for, either.

Raglan sleeve (with bust gather)

Determined to salvage something from this particular fabric, I pulled out the raglan-sleeve top. Boring, but dependable, and despite the insanely good weather (high of 29C today!!!!) I will be wanting long sleeves very much, very soon. In this fabric, there was plenty of stretch to experiment with bust-gathering.

Back view

I think it will be OK after I take a couple of inches off each side. This is the same pattern a the Where’s Waldo shirt, of course, but that fabric had very little stretch, while this stuff grows while you look at it.

And then the hubs got home and it was time to make pizza (why did I decide to use the oven on an actual hot day?)

Shoes make everything better?

At least I found some cute shoes at the thrift store yesterday (a small consolation considering the entire pattern section has been purged. There wasn’t any good fabric, either.)

I guess three pretty-much-finished objects is pretty good for one day (even if they’re all ridiculously simple pieces). I guess I was expecting to have something I was excited about, though.

Those darned expectations…


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[cue Imperial March]

Hubby's Coat

Or other similarly foreboding music.

Last night I started, edging slowly, timidly, towards working on my hubby’s coat. This is the one I’ve been promising him, oh, at least since the spring. And he’s even whined about it, albeit intermittently.

In my defense, given the frustrations of my last project for him (WHICH HE DOESN”T WEAR!!!), I think a bit of heel-dragging on my part is understandable.

So, years and years ago, he bought a “trench coat*” from le chateau, the once-fabulous purveyor of all your goth gear needs.

Goth no longer being cool, apparently, they don’t sell that stuff anymore, but back in the day, man, that was the place to go.

The photo I just took has to be the single most unappealing I could have come up with—let me just say, it looks better on. And it was a staple of his leisure wardrobe for years. Sadly, aside from the stains which could probably be laundered out, at this point the fabric is full of snags, not to mention some melted holes from cigarette ash, and the whole thing is just not quite as smart-looking as it used to be. Which just isn’t acceptable.

Anyway, back in the spring I scored some great black coating at the thrift store, and my hubby pounced. He does this sometimes, gets a fabric stuck in his head. It HAD to be a replica of his coat. Regardless of the fact that this was a thick woolly coating, while the original was made of a thin, drapey suiting.

I wasn’t sure I would have enough (there were only 2m from the thrift-store find) so when Fabricland had a good sale, I picked up two more metres of  black “Kashmir Jacketing” (which, as far as I can tell, has absolutely no cashmere in it, but anyway). I was pretty sure this was the same fabric as the thrift-store find.

Why do I even try to photograph black fabric? Suiting on the left, kashmir jacketing in the middle, "melton" on the right

I was wrong. I think the thrift-store find may actually be melton, the stuff Fabricland sells for $33/m and is unforgivably bad about marking down, at least until after all the good colours are gone.

Concerned that my blacks didn’t match, I went back and found a nice cheap poly twill suiting, similar in weight to the original jacket. Cheering myself, I bought three metres. It would be perfect, a much better match to the original. I proudly showed it to my husband.

He was not amused. His heart was set on melton.

Argh. Anyway, I suspect I can make it work, although it’s possible I’ll end up cutting the facings and maybe side-body pieces out of the other fabric.

M-Sewing/Lekala pattern 6066

So, next requirement was, of course, a pattern. I considered trying to draft one (I’m masochistic that way, or at least like to pretend I am) but some noodling around the interwebs turned up this pattern. Which is actually a Lekala pattern, if you should for some reason want the custom sizing. But the M-Sewing site had multiple sizes for download.

Anyway, although you probably can’t see it due to my crappy photography, this pattern has all the right details, aside from length. I had even printed it out and taped it together months ago, back in July.

Pattern work

Last night, I went and began the rest of the pattern alterations. Sleeve—lengthened. Waist—narrowed. Vent moved from side-back seam to centre back seam. Now all I need to do is lengthen the crap out of the pieces, and I’ll be ready for the muslin.

And then I need to start re-reading Sherry’s RTW Coat Sewalong. Cuz I am not going all-out couture for this thing.

Having looked at the construction of the original, though, I have to say I’m not impressed. “Lightly tailored” does not even begin to describe it. I’ve made dresses with more structure than this thing. Ok, I haven’t, but someone out there has. Light, thin shoulder pads and a bit of interfacing on the front facing and collar. That’s IT.

There is one issue with the original that worries me a tad—the facing tends to roll out. Hubs has expressed a STRONG DESIRE that the new version not do this. I will definitely read over Sherry’s tips on drafting the front facing, but if any of you have any thoughts on what causes this problem I’d love to hear them. (Is it just natural? it kind of “rolls” out where a lapel would, except of course this jacket doesn’t have a rolled lapel. Hmm.)

I’m thinking maybe I should bust out a blazer pattern for myself while I’m at it… it’s not as if I don’t have at least five pieces of fabric that want to become blazers (and at least as many patterns in the running). But we’ll maybe leave that for a future post…

*My husband often has a bit of his own language; I blame it on the ADHD that makes sure he never pays too much attention to anything, least of all words. For years he would de-thaw food for supper. And as far as he’s concerned any long black coat is a trench coat. I have been arguing that this particular garment, completely lacking in the authentic trench-coat details (gun-flap, epaulettes, belt), is more of a frock-coat, but not with any kind of measurable success. He also considers the little coats I made my nieces trench-coats as well.


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I met Oona!

My only picture of the two of us. I look a little spastic, I fear. Oona got better pictures, as her camera is much cooler than mine...

The infamous Oonaballoona from Kalkatroona, of course.

And she is, indeed, Oonalicious.


And many more fabulous oonjectives as well.

Sadly, the crushing Forces of the Universe were conspiring to keep us apart—despite her recent Rocky Mountain stint only a stone’s throw from my personal stomping ground, two weeks of email tag just couldn’t seem to mesh our schedules together, so the best we could do was a last, desperate meetup in, yes, the airport. We had just under an hour to squee, squeak, bounce up and down, and probably thoroughly confuse everyone around us (Not to mention nearly giving Ruggy an aneurysm as we delayed their passage through customs. I’m sorry, Ruggy, I really am!). Dearly beloveds, it was not nearly enough. I’m pretty sure I could spend HOURS squeeing with Oona (especially if there was a fabric store in range). Days just chatting it up. /sigh. I can report that she is just as adorable in person as online, and Ruggy is just as much a southern gentleman as claimed, even under extreme duress. She was also excessively impressed by my jacket and dress. Especially when she creates stuff like this. And this. *envy*

Obviously I need to start saving my pennies so I can visit New York City…

A rather better picture of her Oontastic Loveliness

The ONLY photo of me in NYC.

Anyway, hopefully she’s home safe by now, enjoying her goodies and her own bed (the worst thing about travelling, IMO, is sleeping in other beds). I miss her already.


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Jeans are done.

They’re fine.

The Back

Buttonhole FAIL.

There was the requisite “OMFG how the HECK are these ever going to fit?” moment. There was the usual buttonhole drama (Featherweight and vintage buttonholer were not up to the task, although they might have done better had I remembered to put the presser foot down). There was the “crap, I think I cut these belt-loops too short” moment, followed by the “Wow, those belt-loops are way too big” moment.

Side view

There’s always a bit of drama involved in attaching the waistband on stretch denim jeans. OK, there’s always a bit of drama when I do it, anyway. This is because the jeans denim stretches, the heavily-interfaced waistband doesn’t, and how the HECK is this supposed to work? (Incidentally, if you look at low-rise RTW stretch jeans, often the main jeans denim is stretched to fit the waistband. This looks funny and square on the hanger, but just fine once they’re on the body). One of these days I’ll finish killing one of my precious pairs of Buffalo Jeans and autopsy the waistband to find out what, if anything, they put in there, because it sure works better than anything I’ve tried so far.

Waistband, opened up to show interfacing, before being attached.

Sometimes I sew waistband and jeans together flat. Sometimes I stretch the jeans denim just a little bit. I did that today, and it worked out. Sewing them together flat works better if you haven’t interfaced the waistband as much as I did  this time (but then you end up with a flabby waistband). Observations of my favourite RTW pairs suggest that when the regular denim stretches 50%, the waistband stretches only about 10%. Possibly dark and necromantic powers are involved.

Waistband with bound edge, before being attached

I used the bind-the-inside-waistband method this time. It’s simple and much less futzy than slip-stitching down the inside or, worst, trying to topstitch it in place from the outside.

Pocket and back belt-loop

Although I loved using the Featherweight for my topstitching, I’m thinking with thread like this (which my Janome didn’t object to… probably helps that she’s freshly serviced, though) I should use a stretch stitch from the Janome for the pocket embroidery. I keep hearing threads go “snap” back there, plus I think it would make a smoother silhouette if the stitches were stretchier.

The finished front: button, bar-tack, belt loops, and rivets.

I think I actually managed to put the button in the right place so the fly doesn’t try to gape open. I actually saw a gizmo a little while back being sold (I think in a gas-station) that would extend your jeans waistband—basically a loop that buttons to your buttonhole—and, having been pondering flies that lie smooth and zippers staying up, stared at it in amazement. It would never work. The fly would have to stay open.

Well, I know some people do this when they’re pregnant (hair elastics work well, I’m told… I was not that ingenious and just wore overalls). This requires a long top to cover it, though. The gizmo made no mention of the long top. Maybe it was assumed.

Now, the four-million-dollar question: should I try my hand at distressing them? I’m getting a little bored of plain dark-wash, but on the other hand am I brave enough to take bleach and sandpaper and pumice to my brand new jeans?

In other news…

I got a birthday present! Heather of Sewing on Pins made up my birthday pattern as a top! Yay, happy dance. (And she didn’t hate it, even though she thought she would! Yay!) (Incidentally, while I naturally want you all to go make up a version RIGHT NOW, when it’s not your style/season/you have something better to do you don’t actually have to.)

Anyway, have a hedgehog! And a great week. 🙂

Superfluous hedgehog.


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