Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dwarf hoodie

Half a hoodie

Although finished as part of my Christmas procrastination, this little sweater for Syo has the best origins: I cut it out immediately after I finished Tyo’s robe, to use up the irregular quarter-metre of fabric I had left.

Simplicity 3714

The pattern is Simplicity 3714, a Hannah Montana pattern. Unlike the last few kids’ patterns I’ve been annoyed with, this one seems fairly full-featured. The instructions are decent as well. What was fun for me, though, was adding some nifty details.

A couple of months ago, my MIL bought Tyo a bunnyhug*. It’s cream, gorgeous, and has some nifty features including (but not limited to) twill-taped seams, a lined hood, and eyelets for the ties. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of it (it’s really nice), but anyway, it definitely inspired me to try some of the details.

Syo’s Sweater

Unfortunately I didn’t have any cream twill-tape kicking around. So I took the white stuff I had on hand and dropped it in a pot of tea. It came out with this lovely tan colour… a bit different than I was going for but I thought it still looked nice (and it will probably fade a bit after a few washings.)

Hood closeup (with eyelet for drawstring)

Basically I stitched the main seams wrong-side together (so the seam-allowances showed on the outside, trimmed and pressed, and then topstitched the twill tape down overtop, so everything is neat both inside and out. The hood is lined with a plain jersey knit.

Fun view

I remembered (!) to interface the area where the hood eyelets were going to go with a knit fusible interfacing, hoping to avoid the tragedy of the eyelets popping out. This is a fairly sturdy sweatshirt knit, and I made the eyelet-holes as teeny as possible. They feel sturdy and stable at the moment, but we’ll see how they hold up.

Front details

The pattern suggested adding hot-fuse rhinestones to the front. I opted for studs. I may add more if I get ambitious.

Back view

I did the same kind of finish around the zipper, so the edges of the zipper tape and the fabric are completely enclosed behind the twill-tape. I’m not a super fan of this zipper, but the selection for 8″ separating zippers was pretty frigging limited.

Zipper finishing

I forgot to add the elastic at the waistband when I finished it, but fortunately was able to unpick the twill tape, cut a slit in the casing beneath it, insert the elastic, and then stitch the elastic in place and re-stitch the twill-tape, covering my booboo entirely. Yay.

Walk like a Syo

Syo is not super-duper thrilled with it, but I’m actuslly hoping it will be practical, as she is usually overheating and taking off her full-sized sweaters. She wore it pretty happily at the local history museum this afternoon. Maybe it will grow on her. I certainly think it’s pretty cool. But of course it’s not my opinion that matters. 😉




Filed under Sewing

My mother is many things…

Not least of which is an enabler.

"New" Pfaff 360

Thank you, Mom. Merry Christmas.

This is a Pfaff 360. Some time in the 60s, it was a top of the line embroidery machine—that little colourful wheel thingy gives you the settings for the various stitches. My mom bought hers in the early 70s, second-hand, for about $250; this is still what a lot of them go for, from some quick googling. It’s the machine I learned on,  and measure every other machine against.

When I saw the case with the ribbon tied to the handle, I nearly had a heart attack, and had to open it up right away and check the attachments to make sure it wasn’t her machine. Fortunately, no. This is the machine a friend of my mom’s has been sitting on, but not actually using, for a while now.

This one has had a bit of a rougher life than my mom’s, I think. It’s a bit dinged up and the automatic threader is missing (not that I even knew it had one before Mom mentioned it.) The tension is giving me a bit of grief, although I think it’s just a little sticky and probably needs cleaning. I already messed around with some free motion satin-stitch embroidery and it sucked considerably less than I thought it would.

Every sewing machine feels a little different to “drive”, y’know? Some are zippy and light, some are sluggish, some are powerful. The Pfaff 360 isn’t as fast as my new Janome (or, for that matter, the old Army Machine, which when it’s going, goes like crazy), but it’s solid, powerful, and can chew through anything you can fit under the presser foot. And most importantly, it feels right.

The accessory box isn’t as extensive as my mom’s, (and in fact is missing some key pieces, like a zipper foot) but it does have a few that were missing from my collection—there’s a funny little keel that fits over the regular zigzag foot to work as a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and a buttonhole-measuring foot that had me thoroughly puzzled until Mom told me what it was. And it’s another low-shank machine, so the bits should be interchangeable with everyone else except the Army Machine.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m thoroughly overflowing with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, so I’m off to bed. Have a great night!


Filed under Sewing

The Turn

A White Day

I live in Canada. Winter is cold, and there’s a lot of dark. Sometimes the days are brilliant—shining, blue skies, the cold white eye of the sun, and everything glitters like the inside of a diamond. Often these are the days when the cold steals your breath, making you cough, where it knifes through your thighs as you walk, bores a hole between your eyes were even the warmest scarf can’t cover.

Then there are the white days, the prairies’ special trick, where the sky is white, the land is white, and the horizon becomes only a guess. Everything is a middling, dull-white shade. It does not glitter, just fades slowly into night.

Cold Coming In

The nights are long. You rise in darkness, running from blankets to robe to sweaters as quickly as possible. Often it’s dark again by the time you leave work. Entire work weeks can pass in darkness. Months pass without feeling the sun’s warmth on your cheeks.

Vogue tobacco?

There are blizzards, confections of wind and snow to make you stare in awe. Cars creep hesitantly along the roads, snowflakes whirling like unsteady stars, hiding everything: the road’s edge, the lane markings, the oncoming traffic. You stock your car: blankets, candles, chocolate bars. The danger is not so much going off the road. It’s going off the road, too far from help, where you’ll sit in your idling car until the fuel runs out and then the cold seeps in, and you either wait for it or walk for it. That’s when people die. Blizzards are the moments when you bow your head and admit defeat; allow nature her supremacy, and stay home, preferably with a fire and hot chocolate, and tell the story of the farmer who lost his way in a blizzard going from house to barn, and how long it was before they found his frozen body.


I don’t love the cold. I don’t love winter. I don’t love the prison our houses become, the prison our clothes become, layers piled on layers, constricting and restrictive. I don’t do many of the fun things that make winter worthwhile up here—I don’t skate, play hockey, ski or snowboard.

But I do love the holidays. I love taking a few moments, here at the blackest end of the year, to enjoy the people around me. I love the convergence of roads that lets me see my relatives in wild, energetic bouts, all at once, rather than one or two at a time. I love the food, the lights, the decorations.

I love turkey with cranberry sauce.

Shot with tree.

And I love knowing that, after today, no matter how cold the weather or how majestic the storms, the days will be getting longer, and sooner or later the ground will soften, the snow will melt, and spring will be here.

Happy Solstice, everyone! I hope your holidays are full of family, friends, and togetherness—and if not, then I hope they’re at least filled with other things that make you happy.

(photographs of an abandoned shack at my grandmother’s farm)


Filed under Sewing

Syo Sews

Syo sewed so well. Also she's wearing a shirt I made her.

While I’ve been dithering over the hubs’ coat, Syo seized the opportunity to sneak onto an unattended machine and whip up a little purse. Her being extremely proud of her creation, she asked me to blog about it. Me being putty in her cute little fingers, immediately snapped some photos and set to.

Look! It opens!

Look! Not only does it have a strap (thankfully using up the last of that trim!), but there’s even something approaching a seam-finish on the end of the fold-over flap!

Ok, so I may be a little bit exuberant. Here’s the thing. She sewed this on her own. The only thing she asked me was whether she could use the machine (yes, dear, just don’t sew through your fingers, k?). No hovering, no planning, no supervising every seam-allowance and pivot and backtack.

People, this is how I learnt to sew (when I was probably right around Syo’s age, maybe a smidge older). Grab fabric, think (or don’t), and go. Doesn’t work? Try again. Something you never thought of goes wrong? Oops, that was a learning experience!

I’m not knocking anyone who learnt to sew properly—it’s probably a much faster, more efficient way to learn. But it’s not how I learnt, and trying to teach my kids feels… forced. Weird. Stressful.

This wasn’t stressful. This was great.

Shot with tree.

In other news, I traced out the size F(2, but in length G/3) and size H(4) of the Jalie 2908 jeans, to make up for my nieces, possibly even for Christmas. I’m still in limbo over a shirt for my Dad… I have the fabric picked out, but the Negroni pattern I ordered at the beginning of the month (yes, I caved, finally) still hasn’t arrived. I have printed out a custom size (as far as I can figure going on my mom’s recollection of his measurements and some gentle prodding over the phone) of this pattern, but I’m a little worried that it’s going to fit like a tent, which is not really what I want to create. I’m planning a backup gift on that front, either way. On the subject of Mr. Isis (every time I type that I think I should just put “Osiris”)’s jacket, I did a second muslin, with a much fuller back and wider sleeves, after he very instructively flexed while wearing the first muslin and ripped the back seam open clear to the waist. We are having some issues over fit vs. freedom of motion; like many hard-to-fit people, he’s used to wearing knits or vastly oversized wovens. Anyway, the second muslin had a very curved back seam, a lot of ease rotated into the shoulders (basically I rotated some of the curve from the neck into a shoulder-dart, but I don’t plan on sewing the dart, just easing the fabric in), and has some big folds under the arm, all of which disappear completely when he crosses his arms. I tried to suggest (as I seem to recall reading somewhere) that a suit-jacket should lie smooth when the hands are clasped in front. He doesn’t consider this adequate. I think he’s on glue. The debate continues. Anyway, I think I can shave off a bit of the excess and get something that doesn’t look completely grotesque when he’s standing naturally.  Fitting muscles is weird. It’s almost like an FBA for the back, in an area that doesn’t happen to have any darts. (Boy has a drop of almost 12″ from chest to waist right now. That’s not only more than mine, that’s more than twice mine. The jerk.). At least widening the sleeves went well. I’d be tempted to try a larger size, but the shoulders fit beautifully.

Now if I could just find my roll of craft paper to make the rest of the pattern pieces… (I’m trying to save the wrapping paper for the presents…)


Filed under Sewing

The Procrastination Tee


I’m supposed to be sewing my husband’s christmas coat this weekend. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re procrastinating…

This is not, obviously, the Bird on a Wire fabric. Seeing as Spoonflower knits are like $27/m, I figured a wearable muslin was in order. This stripey stuff (formerly seen in the Where’s Waldo shirt) was like $3/m. That works.

Pattern: lengthened

I made only one change to Steph’s pattern (which I have to admit, after the Zoe coat fitting and the hack ‘n slash I’ve been doing on the Lekala pattern for my husband, was a BIG relief): I added a crapload of length to the bottom. Steph drafted for 3″ below the waist… 3″ below my waist is still an inch or two above my pants. Those of you who don’t wear your pants indecently low won’t have this issue. 😉 I also smoothed the curve of the back piece in the hip region—I have no idea if it’s better this way, I just liked the look.

So, fit? The shoulders fit. Perfectly. Like a dream. OMG. For the record, I did not once supply Steph with my shoulder measurement.

Back view

In fact, the fit of the whole thing is pretty fabulous. As promised, it’s snug through the bust with a teensy bit of ease in the midriff, just enough to not feel like a stuffed sausage, without feeling odd about the difference between the bust-ease and the waist-ease. Now, just for the record, I made the 35|| size, that’s 35″ bust, rectangular shape. Steph recommends it for those with 8″ or less difference between bust and waist.

Cool Cat

Also for the record, I myself have a 33″ bust and  a 5″ difference with my waist on a good day. /sigh. This is not a very stretchy fabric, but if you’re an actual 35″-bust you probably want to make sure you use a fabric with at least a modest amount of give. There’s a fairly significant amount of negative ease at the bust, which is actually the narrowest point on the pattern. Bonus for me, it meant I didn’t need to adjust the waist shaping for my short waist!

I think the only thing I’ll change next time is lowering the neck-scoop a little more. Like an inch or two. It’s a bit high for my taste, and maybe a bit higher than in the version Steph drafted for herself. My neck-binding is standing up a bit, but I think that has everything to do with the fabric not stretching enough to make a nice, flat binding.

All inall? Good job, Steph! And thank you :).

(Oh, and sorry for the hat, I had an afternoon shower and no way was I doing my hair again…)

Should you for some reason require more random photos of me goofing around in a stripey T-shirt, they can be found here. I tried to embed the slideshow, but WordPress does not seem to want to play nice with Picasa.

ETA: The pattern is, of course, the Bird on a Wire Tee by Steph of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. I’ve linked it before but obviously I should include it in the main post here!


Filed under Sewing

The Lotus Lady

So serene... so contemplative...

Perhaps “Lotus Lass” would be more apt, but it just doesn’t have the rhythm, y’know?

Kimono front. Pay no attention to the broom handle sticking out of the sleeve...

Tyo’s robe is finished and has been worn pretty much every day, so I’d say it’s a success. Although now she wants those loop-over-the-arms tie things that keep the kimono sleeves from dragging in everything, because, well, they drag in everything. Fortunately we’ve watched enough Miyazaki that she knows all about them.

Kimono back.

It’s really long, which is what she wanted, but quite narrow. Not so much it doesn’t close, but it certainly doesn’t stay closed while walking. This is the downside of rectangular construction, I guess. Godets at the sideseam might’ve been effective (if not particularly kimono-accurate).

Hem lotus

I quite enjoyed laying out all the applique, which I did after cutting the fabric but before assembling anything. There are two full lotuses, one on the upper back, one at the hem on the front right side. The sleeves and the front left are decorated with individual petals.

Back view---worn

The belt is a simple sash. I opted to stitch it down with an X on the centre back, so she can’t lose it. (I could’ve added belt loops, but in my experience that’s never enough to keep a kid’s belt with their housecoat.) Most of the time it’s trailing along behind her elegantly, but at least it’s there if she decides she needs it.

Front, worn.

The other morning she came down for breakfast wearing her cream bunnyhug* under the robe, which threw me for a loop as I couldn’t figure out how she’d gotten a hood onto the robe.

All in all?

1) new technique learnt (applique)

2) new construction methods

3) used up stash fabric

4) garment is getting lots of use and love.


Your robe fu is strong, but mine is stronger!*

*yes, I know Kung Fu is not Japanese. Hush.


Filed under Sewing

Steph made me a pattern!

Can't you see the shirt?

Steph, of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World, made me a pattern for a super cute kimono-sleeve tee!

Well, I guess you guys can use it too. As long as you put it back when you’re done. And don’t go losing my instructions, either!

And just in time for Christmas, too.

Unfortunately for me, I’m so busy with all my other insane Christmas sewing (not to mention all the other insanities of life) that it’s not going to get stitched up in time for Christmas. Poo.

She even sent me some of her nifty Bird on a Wire fabric to bribe me encourage me to test the pattern out.

Hark the herald birdies sing...

Hush. I can be as goofy with my spanky fabric as I like. And I was going to crop out my fugly socks, but, y’know. Sometimes ya just gotta go with the goofiness.


Filed under Sewing