Monthly Archives: October 2011

How they keep me hooked


Tyo wriggles into the shirt. “Aww, yeah. I love the long sleeves! Ooh, can we put a thumbhole in? I love how long it is—it covers my butt! I love how tight the sleeves are, you never get sleeves this tight. I love how you flare them out at the end, too! I’ll totally wear this! I love the neckline!” (I heave a small sigh of relief. I was worried it would be too low-cut for her taste.)

“Ok, now give it back to me so I can hem it.”

“No, don’t hem it, I like it just how it is!”

“I want one, too, mom!” (that’s Syo)

I made this shirt for Tyo to wear under her Babydoll costume. She’s going to be freakin’ freezing. Monday’s forecast includes snow.

The fabric is from a cotton jersey sheet I picked up at Value Village for $4; not great recovery—more T-shirt than leotard—but no way I was going to score plain white (or plain flesh-tone) jersey from Fabricland for that little, and there’s plenty left over. Like, I used less than two feet off the whole double-sized sheet length. (And it would’ve been less except the sheet seems to be cut prodigiously off-grain to the rib of the knit. Weird.)

The pattern… erm. Technically, it’s a hybrid of Kwik Sew 2448 (sleeve and armscye, size 7) and 1670 (body and shoulder, size 12, lengthened into a shirt), although really once I was done I think either pattern would’ve been embarrassed to acknowledge its bastard offspring. But, I’m pretty happy with the result—a close-fitting, shaped, but not skin-tight tee. I lengthened the sleeve, made it curve in a bit just below the top of the arm for a closer fit, and added my usual flare-out at the wrist. Something about this shape that I just really like. I had graded out the bottom of the shirt to allow for pear-shaped-ness, but next time I’ll tweak the side-seam curves a bit. They are inning and outing a bit too sharply. Tyo’s curves at the moment are all front to back, not side to side.

V-Neck Closeup

I wanted a V-neck to go underneath the costume. It’s my first attempt at finishing a V-neck; I didn’t try to miter the ends of the band, just overlapped them at a right angle. And by some miracle I got the length right, too. So although it’s a little wonky in places, overall it’s pretty decent. I used this technique from Jorth (I’ve seen it other places, too, but this description is nice and recent and sticks out in my memory) although I only did a 5mm seam allowance instead of a 10mm, and my topstitching is consequently closer to the seam.

One Happy Tyo

Of course, for the costume purposes, skin-tight would’ve been better.  But y’know what? She loves it. So I’m going to shut up and enjoy. 🙂

(Also, Tyo wants you to know that she wanted to wear the knee-high boots but we could only find the one, so after an hour or so of hunting around she settled for mis-matched boots. I told her she should keep that to herself, this way it’s a “fashion statement”.)



Filed under Sewing


Buffy the Vampire-Slayer Costume (in progress)

As I mentioned before, it took quite a bit of convincing to get Syo to agree to “Movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as opposed to “TV-show Buffy” for her Hallowe’en costume. Not that I have anything against Sarah Michelle Gellar’s take on the character—I haven’t watched enough to judge one way or another, but plenty of my friends and family, kids included, are firm fans—but in my mind the movie version is more iconic. That’s where Buffy started, y’know, the wonderful juxtaposition of teen-cheerleader-ditz with stark, undead horror. Or something. (OK, it’s been a while since I saw the movie, either, and unforgivably it’s not on Netflix. Dude.)

So, now the costume is progressing, and she’s still not overly thrilled. /sigh. I’m torn. On the one hand I have an intense recollection of that sinking dread/obligation feeling that goes with a costume being made for you that you don’t like. (Hmm, I think I was less tactful and thoughtful of my mother’s feelings than Syo, actually.) On the other hand, as an adult, I am serenely confident that my idea is better, and she should just suck it up. Gotta love how parenthood can bring out one’s inner dictator. Sigh.

In any case, the essential, iconic bits are done—crop-top and twirly skirt. Hopefully Syo will like the skirt better than the top (as I write this I just finished the skirt and she’s already in bed, so she will have to check it out tomorrow). Although technically she already had a skirt picked out (the black one in the photo. It’s not one I made). I’m hoping she’ll be amenable to layering them, with the yellow one on top. This may go over like a lead balloon—we’ll see.

T-Shirt pattern

Anyway, the top is drawn straight from the T-shirt portion of this Kwik Sew pattern, but cropped off at the handy “lengthen or shorten here” line. It’s snug in the sleeves and loose in the body, which works in my opinion but is less than thrilling to Syo who’d prefer it to be skin-tight. She likes everything skin-tight these days. >_<

Hem and navy strip closeup (I used Steam-a-Seam inside the hems, too, which makes them pretty much effortless)

The photo I’m going from has navy trim on the yellow costume, so I pulled out some navy stretch-velvet I bought on a whim last winter and have been too terrified to actually do anything with. It wasn’t actually cheap, and I have some very traumatic history involving sewing polyester velvet, although that horrible stuff wasn’t stretch. I cut some rectangles and topstitched the strips down the sleeves using a a handy-dandy stretch stitch on my machine that looks vaguely like the athletic-style coverstitching you get on some RTW. Most importantly, it makes a nice, stretchy topstitch—I actually used it on the hems in the shirt, too. It’s stretchier and less fiddly (and less tunnelly!) than twin-needling.  Anyway, I’m quite happy with how it worked for appliqueing the strips on the sleeves. I actually (first time ever!) used the pattern-piece for the neckband strip, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. All my reading plus previous experience suggests to me that a neckband strip needs to be a wee bit shorter than the neckband when working in a knit. This one was dead on, if not in fact a teensy bit longer. Boo. It was easy enough to shorten, but if I’d been trying to put it on in the round and hadn’t checked, it would’ve been a bad situation. Perhaps the instructions have some clever notes about this—if I ever make an outfit from this pattern that isn’t a complete throwaway I may actually read them.

Skirt pattern (View D)

The skirt comes from this McCall’s pattern. View D is the handkerchief skirt in the middle. Now, remember my whining about excessively dumbed-down patterns? Well, my next-biggest pet-peeve is pattern-pieces that are shaped like squares and rectangles.

Square and rectangular pattern pieces

Now, just for the record, I understand why people selling patterns include pattern pieces like these. And I would actually be a bit dissatisfied if I opened a pattern and got a bunch of directions for cutting squares of a particular size. But square pattern pieces are still silly. The handkerchief-skirt piece almost has a right to exist because of that circle in the middle… almost.

Although I did a pretty decent job on the shirt, construction-wise (if I do say so myself), everything went to hell a bit on the skirt. First, I was comparing the yoke-size to the RTW skirt, which is also a pull-on elastic skirt that I knew fit Syo (perils of sewing for a child when the child is in bed—no fitting opportunities), and it was way too long (the smallest size in my envelope is 7, which is a bit big). So I shortened it. Of course, I did this from one edge, which threw all my notches off. Oops. Next, the skirt appears to be cut to a somewhat larger size than the yoke. WTF?

My basic approach at this point became: It’s a knit. It’ll stretch.

I’m not sure the original skirt calls for an elastic at the waist (again, I could have read the instructions), but I figured one was in order. And then it just seemed easier to keep it place by turning the yoke into just a regular elastic-casing waistband. And then when I started to sew the skirt pieces to the yoke, I tried to match my notches, forgetting that that would throw off one side of the skirt. Also there are a lot of gathers, staring from the skirt’s centre hole being cut to a larger size, and ending with me taking a wider hem to narrow the yoke.  And because of the notches being off, the gathers are not particularly even.

It’s not quite the sleek, cute thing on the envelope cover. Oh, well—hopefully it’ll work anyway. I mean, what little girl can resist a handkerchief skirt?

Don’t ask that.

Kwik Sew 1670

So that’s the major bits. If I get time/energy, I may turn the rest of the velvet into a leotard and/or leggings from this pattern. I do in fact have a leggings pattern I drafted for Syo back this summer, but it has a fair bit of negative ease—which was perfect for the fabric I was using at that point—and this stretch velvet doesn’t stretch that much. On the other hand the smallest size of the Kwik Sew pattern is a bit big for Syo… but she’s growing. And I’m pretty sure she’d live in stretch velvet leggings.

We’ll see.

Probably I should figure out some pom-poms, too.

Oh, and it turns out we are actually going to the Hallowe’en dance on Friday, so everything needs to be done by tomorrow, not for Monday. Oopsie.


Filed under Sewing

Bodge Job

Babydoll (Sucker Punch) costume

Botch job? That might make more sense. I think my spelling muscles have atrophied from years of spellcheck.

(Editor’s note: what follows is a really whiny, ranty post, heavy on the pet-peeves and largely self-created irritations. Despite the overall tone, it was really nice to spend a good chunk of time sewing—I haven’t had much time lately. But feel free to skip to something a little more cheery)

Hallowe’en sewing has been happening.

In theory, I should love Hallowe’en sewing. I love the holiday, the decorations, the costumes, everything. I love costumes in general, for pity’s sake. There’s just something about the thought of “worn only once” that I can’t shake out of my head, and it trickles down to crappy sewing. The overall look I’m happy with. The details suck balls.

An irksome skirt pattern

Let’s start with the skirt, since that’s where I started, too. The pattern is Simplicity 5084, a Lizzie McGuire pattern for a skirt in about a bajillion different options; View A was pretty much what I was going for, though. The package is for kids’ sizes 8-16, but whatever lovely soul owned it before me (and I shouldn’t complain too much since I paid less than a dollar for it, but it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to) cut it to the size 10. And then helpfully stuffed the cutoff little strips back in the envelope. I know I should be grateful for that, but I have to admit I find it even more irritating than just having a cut pattern set to that size in the first place. This is not terribly rational of me, I know. And ten is, technically, Tyo’s bottom-half size, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

This is not, however, the end of my irritations with the pattern. The next one comes from the drafting—there’s an identical yoke piece for front and back. Now, in my experience even children without Tyo’s particularly J-Lo-esque figures have a different shaped bottom than front. This kind of dumbed-down pattern drafting always annoys me. I traced out another version, keeping the waist the same but spreading the bottom to give it a little more room. I even managed to remember to add extra width to the pleated skirt piece when I cut it out. The fabric is a lightweight cotton denim, sturdy and nice to work with.

Poorly-executed lapped zipper

The next set of complaints are purely user error and failure-to-think-things through. I did a reasonably-successful blindstitch hem on the machine, but in hindsight I could totally have used the navy ribbon we got for trim to hide the hem—and then the ribbon would’ve been on BEFORE I topstitched the edges of the pleats down, rather than only trying to put it on after (which was really, really dumb. I think I was in Trim Denial.). Then I figured I’d try a lapped zipper. I followed the instructions from one of my vintage zippers, and basically it’s the

Lining creating weird pocket with the lapped zipper. I are speshul.

same idea as a jeans fly, except on a much narrower scale. I think it was the narrowness that befuddled me—anyway, results were not so good. Laughable, really. Although it works fine, it just isn’t pretty or well-finished. And then I couldn’t quite wrap my head around putting in the lining for the yoke, and managed to create some weird things like a part that folds over the top of the zipper. Ah, well. Costume-grade, sigh. I should’ve just put the lining in first. I should’ve done a lot of things differently, really. Live and learn, etc. The pleats didn’t come out even, either, even though I marked them off the pattern with remarkable (for me) precision.

Overall, though, it worked out. I’m very glad I added the extra width in the back. I also wound up scooping down the top of the front yoke a bit and letting out the yoke side-seams, which may have contribued to throwing off the pleats.

Simplicity 7401

The top needed to be a basic, short-sleeved, cropped top with a sailor collar. I figured pullover-the-head with elastic at the bottom. I have no idea how the tight-fitted movie version of the costume opens, but pull-over is good enough for Hallowe’en. Digging through the stash produced Simplicity 7401, which has a very basic top. My package goes up to size 8, which is technically Tyo’s upper-body size. So, whee! I traced it off, roughly measured to the length Tyo wanted, just above her belly-button—she informed me that the shorter original was too short. I’m not sure where she picked this modesty up from (especially as she’s going to be wearing a leotard, AT LEAST, underneath) but, well, I’m not going to complain. Syo doesn’t suffer from it in the least, I’ll add.

Poorly-finished V-neck with sailor-collar

Anyway, modifying to a V-neck (making sure it would be large enough to pull over the head) wasn’t too tough, nor was drafting a collar to match. Figuring out how to finish the collar—now that kinda broke my brain. A facing would probably have been a good idea, but I was lazy and just wanted to hide the seam on the outside under the collar. It worked great except for the bit at the V right in the front. I’ve never done a sailor collar before—I imagine there’s a trick to finishing the front. I could probably even have learned it if I’d bothered to do ten seconds of research. I didn’t. So it’s a bit, erm, rough. There may be some fray-check involved.

The sleeve cap-ease seemed weirdly distributed, although in hindsight that’s probably because the shoulders are supposed to have button-overlaps and I forgot to remove the extra length on the back piece.  Which is probably throwing something really off somewhere, although I think it looks fine. Teehee-whoops. Either way, there’s a fair bit of ease and denim doesn’t do ease, so I didn’t even try. There’s some weird gathering and pleating going on in the shoulders. Costume.

I did think to use my navy trim to cover the hems for the sleeves—nice, clean finish. This mock-grosgrain ribbon doesn’t go around curves as nicely as real grosgrain, but with the running stitch decoration you can tighten up the inner side and make it curve fairly nicely, which I do like.

It was determined that Tyo could, in fact, slip the thing on and off over her head, although it takes a bit of wriggling. Maybe I need to check her measurements again, although I measured her only a few weeks back. In particular, the arms seem tight. Ah, well.

Then, I decided to stitch the elastic at the bottom to the fabric, the same method Peter covers in his boxers sewalong. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while, and figured it was as good a place to try as any.

Silly, silly girl.

Erm, so this technique probably works really well with light, thin fabrics, the kind you might used for boxers. With denim, not so much. I mean it looks fine. It’s just that the elastic, which was snugly comfortable around Tyo’s ribcage when I measured it, now doesn’t pull in nearly enough, because of the thicker denim. And unlike a plain elastic casing, it’s a PITA to fix. I tried ironing with lots of steam to tighten it up (as sometimes help with shirring) and that produced a small improvement. Next step may be soaking and throwing in the dryer.

The last bit of the costume (aside from accessories like a gun with charms hanging from it and two katanas) is a neck-tie which goes under the collar and ties at the front and, mercifully, covers my nasty collar finish where it shows at the front. Yay! Even better, this  light-weight navy cotton with a little white flower-print was in stash, from the stuff my grandma gave me last summer. Even even better, there was a long, narrow, folded bit hanging off one end of the remnant that, when snipped off, was perfect for being finished into this long, narrow tie. Yay!

Buffy Sleeves

Next up: Syo’s costume. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as cheerleader. So far, I have the sleeves! (The “black” stripe is actually blue stretch velvet I have lying around. If I get crazy ambitious, she may even get a leotard out of it.)


Filed under Sewing


My me-made petticoat (under circle skirt)

How fluffy is too fluffy?

Last winter, I made a fluffy petticoat. I love it very much, and I’ve worn it relatively frequently, considering that it pretty clearly falls into the “stunt dressing” category.

But I’ve been thinking for a while that it’s just not quite fluffy enough. It’s made with soft tulle and chiffon, not the crispest fabrics out there, and it just doesn’t quite have the poof it used to. I even bought some more tulle to make another (or another layer to the existing one), although it’s still sitting in the stash at the moment.


Then, at Value Village the other day, this crinoline presented itself.

Fluffy! Thrift store crinoline.

It’s a perfect length for most of my circle-type skirts (okay, maybe a bit long, but nothing rolling over the waist won’t fix). And it’s got poof.

Plenty of it.

Possibly a bit too much poof for everyday… I already feel a bit like I’m taking up more space than I ought when I wear my me-made petticoat. I have a feeling this crinoline is crossing lines into square-dance territory, I fear.

But man, oh man, is it fun!

On the other hand, the kids have been wearing it around in a display of princessosity that hasn’t been seen since Syo finished Kindergarten. So I’m pretty sure either way it’ll get some use. And for $7, I’m not going to complain.

In other news, I have been bad (or good?) on the pattern front. I was lucky enough to win Heather of Sewing on Pins‘ giveaway a few weeks back, which netted me two nifty ffities patterns, my first from that era:

Patterns from Sewing on Pins!

Although I must admit, the skirt pattern barely qualifies. It’s basically a rectangle with some darts at the top. I do like how the ladies are holding up the pattern piece for show, though. The blouse is pretty cute and has an adorable V-back, with relatively little waist shaping. I’m curious to give it a try, but it may not happen before spring. Autumn has very definitely set in here…

Thrift Store Patterns

I also picked up a couple of patterns at the thrift store this week. What can I say? Fantasy life. Speaking of which, the baby pattern was strictly for “gee, I might want to make this up for someone who had a baby sometime” purposes. We are not expecting and do not expect to be (and even if it were I wouldn’t be getting it christened).  Unfortunately, the instructions appear to be missing, unless they’re printed on the tissue sheets themselves, which are uncut.

I liked the range of variations on the Simplicity pattern, and it’s a junior size, which theoretically might be better suited to my figure. Or not. We’ll see. Tyo likes them, too, although it’ll be another year or two before she fits even the smallest of them.

Is that enough rambling? Can you tell I’m avoiding making Hallowe’en costumes?


Filed under Sewing


A Dread Pirate Shirt

He said: why do you need to take photos?

I said: for the blog, of course.

He said: why do you need to blog this stuff?

I said: because I like to and it keeps me inspired.

He said: I don’t think you understand how much I hate having my picture taken.

I said: No photo, no more Tanit-made items.

He said: okay. I’d rather buy them than have to pose for photographs.

I said: you can’t buy this kind of stuff. That’s why I make it.

He said: I don’t care—I’ll order it off the internet, I’ll pay whatever it takes, if it means you don’t take photographs.

I took photographs. Possibly at gunpoint.

The glare I was receiving has been cropped for the protection of readers.

If I were sane, this would, of course, be the last things I ever make him. But it’s as much about scratching that itch to make him happy (and see him in some hawt clothes), so I will probably keep making him stuff.

At least he’s wearing this one. About the only time it wasn’t in use this weekend was when he was fishing, so if it looks a little rumpled, that’s why.

Why yes, we were out at the creek again.


Filed under Sewing

Beautiful Boxers

Tyo's Boxers: Pattern and Fabric

This past summer, Tyo fell in love with boxers. Less as underwear than as PJ/lougewear bottoms, but anyway. When Peter of Male Pattern Boldness announced his Boxer Sewalong, I thought it was the perfect thing for her to try out. After all, boxers are one of those classic beginner projects! And a sewalong could get her motivated, interested, and above all, reading!

So when Peter started earlier this week, I gleefully shoved my Steve Jobs Memorial Handheld Device* in her face to read his posts, dreaming of after-school idylls of mother-daughter time spent peacefully together in the sewing room.

Tyo's Boxers

Tyo being Tyo, glanced over the posts, complained that she had a headache (she always has a headache when she gets home from school. Unfortunately, the combination of not eating well during the day** with the long bus ride home means she usually arrives home with nausea and cratering blood sugar), and went off to watch “Good Luck Charlie.”

But finally on Saturday (Thanksgiving long weekend! Yay! We’re not having a turkey! Cry!), she had the time/energy/interest/desire to get Mom to stop hassling her about cleaning up, so we headed downstairs.

One Happy Seamstress

Pretty much all of Peter’s clever, fine details went out the window almost right away. Flat felling? I think not. Fly? Meh. It’s not like she’s going to be using it. Stitching elastic directly to the fabric? Um… let’s not even go there… (I did make one grave error, when I flippantly mentioned that boxers are the perfect beginner project. Tyo informed me that she is absolutely NOT a beginner.)

After some rummaging, Tyo selected this fabric, which is a red and white striped, lightweight polyester from the stuff my Grandma gave me last summer. In real life it’s not nearly as shiny as it looks in these photos, although it’s still fairly obnoxious. For the pattern we went with Simplicity 9495, which she also used to make Syo’s birthday present earlier this summer. She also traced off the pattern (YAY one-piece patterns!). I made one alteration, which was to lengthen the crotch-height (or is it depth? I always get those mixed up. I added vertical height) in the back portion. This was a Good Idea, as the rise in the back is just about perfect. The rise in the front, on the other hand, is way too much and bubbles out—I will probably lower it almost two inches when/if she makes another pair. Which probably means that the whole thing is meant to have a waist-level rise and Tyo’s wearing them low-rise, it’s just that her wonderfully round bottom (I might just be a tad jealous) is eating up the extra rise in the back…

More Superfluous Hedgheog

Tyo cut them out and did all of the stitching herself, including serging the seams to finish them. I did most of the pressing. We discovered that hems are easier to stitch without pins (which is how I always do them, but we all know that I don’t always or even often do things the “right” way). I made some pretense of trying to get her to read the instructions, but a) they were making no sense to her, and b) they were stupid, so we winged it. I’m not a big fan of the pants-construction method where you sew the inseam first, THEN the crotch seams. It just seems awkward. Especially when the inseam is only 2″ long.

Tyo's Oil Painting

Then Then Tyo went upstairs and made an oil painting. First she made her canvas (by gluing some white paper to cardboard). Then she pulled out the oil-paint set a friend gave me eons ago (like, pre-child) that I only ever dared use once because the whole canvas+cleanup thing completely terrified and overwhelmed me.

Since we don’t have the products on hand for cleaning up the oils, she used some disposable makeup brushes and a paintbrush that was probably on the way out anyway.

And I gotta tell you, it’s probably one of my favourite things she’s ever made…

There’s a lot to be said for not knowing you can’t do something.

*iPad. Thanks, Little Hunting Creek! (Oh, Hunting Creek is still popping that Malware alert that’s been stalking the blogosphere very annoyingly this week. As far as I can tell the original problem’s been resolved, and a scan before and after visiting it didn’t reveal any malware or viruses on my computer, but now you’re warned.)

**Just to cover my ass in the parenting department, I pack both my kids a healthy and nutritious lunch including whole-grain bread, low-fat lunch meat, and several servings of fruits and vegetables every day. She just never eats it. SOP is that she finishes it when she gets home, but of course this doesn’t help with the after-school crash.


Filed under Sewing

You know you have a winner when…

Mr. Isis's Shirt. Photographing black sucks.

… he’s wearing it before you even have a chance to put buttons on.

I finished Mr. Isis’s shirt, and realized I have no matched black shirt-type buttons. So it is still lacking in buttons and buttonholes. Although Sewing World, on my way home, has a fabulous selection of thread and zippers (and every gizmo known to seamstress), they have zilch for buttons. Well, there might be a few novelty ones. Nothing shirt-worthy, anyway. But the plan is to trek out to Fabricland for kids’ Hallowe’en costume fabric this weekend, so I should be able to remedy that.

None of which stopped Mr. Isis from throwing it on, tucking it in, and rolling up the sleeves, and wearing it around the house the last several evenings.  And he does indeed look a little “Dread Pirate Roberts,” if I do say so myself. >:D

So yeah, I think this one, at least, is a winner…

You may now begin to place bets on how long it takes me to corral him into letting me photograph him in it.


Filed under Sewing