Monthly Archives: February 2017

The fire is so delightful

So WAAAY back in January, I wanted to do a long cozy sweater for a work project for Valentine’s Day. McCall’s M7476, in specific. 

“Sounds great!” said my boss. “Are you going to make it red or pink?”

Um. 

“Put a heart on it?” 

Er, no…

Grum. So I floundered for a couple of days. You could wear the sweater over your sexy lingerie. I didn’t really feel like doing full-on lingerie. Over a crop top and leggings out of something red? Doable but a little boring. 

How about over a slinky velvet dress for an at-home date night involving champagne, a roaring fire, and possibly a bearskin rug? Ooo yes! (Hey, if I’m imagining the champagne and fireplace, why not the bearskin too?)

This was SUPPOSED to be a super quick and simple project I could throw together in a day or two around all the other commitments I have going on right now. Cry. It wound up being less simple. 

First, I spread out my chosen fabric and realized that the subtle marled cotton sweaterknit I’d fallen for was in fact a subtle stripe. (Also, that gorgeously matched pocket up above? That’s the one I sewed on upside down. )

The I spent a lot of time stabilizing things I probably didn’t need to (like the dropped shoulders) and the upper collar, and not stabilizing things I should’ve, like the undercollar. Not quite sure what I was thinking. 

The Nettie dress underneath was supposed to be simple and quick as well, just blinged up with the shiny chain, but then I had the idea to make a deep scoop in back. 

And then that was sort of loose and flaccid, so I wound up adding little jump rings to hold the lacing. Which works and looks cool but kinda distracts from what I was going for. 

Anyway, there’s not a lot more to say. Both of these were simple projects (relatively) with minimal fitting. All I did to the sweater was add sleeve length; for the Nettie I find I have to take about 1/4″ off the height of the shoulders. If I did the sweater again I would blend out a size larger in the hips, but it actually looks better in the photos than I had thought. 

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The (elusive) Perfect Tee Shirt

My husband has always liked a bit of that James Dean look, and key to it is that perfect white tee shirt. Which isn’t always easy to find. But his last few purchases have been largely disappointing (Hanes used to be a staple brand, but the last several… ugh. I didn’t know 100% cotton could feel that yugly.)

Anyway, while I won’t presume to have done better, I did want to throw my hat in the ring. I had attempted a tee for him before from the Thread Theory Strathcona, but it didn’t fare well—the fabric was wrong, the fit not right, and my attempts to hack a V neck version were either too high or too low. I even ordered some expensive cotton interlock from them to try again with a more “typical” fabric, but was too chicken to cut into $18/m fabric without a more successful trial. 

Last Christmas, a friend had great success making tees for her various male family members with Jalie 2918, so I thought I’d give that one a shot. And then, like mana from heaven, my Fabricland got in a shipment that, for the first time since I’ve worked there, included actual white interlock. For $14/m, but half-price sales are a dime a dozen at Fabricland. And then I was able to snaffle up a grubby remnant—just barely enough to squeeze out a trial version. Perfect. 

Anyway, I mainly just want to note down the fitting changes I made, for next time. If there is a next time. 

(for the sake of both Jalie and Thread Theory’s good names, I feel compelled to mention that these changes have more to do with my husband’s personal fit preferences, as well as an unusual body type, than with the patterns themselves.)

I cut the size Y, for a 40″ chest. The shoulders are good but the rest was a bit loose. 

Before anything else, I took a 1/2″ tuck through the shoulders (what I call a petite alteration when I do it for myself.) My husband, like me, has a lot of leg and a short torso for a man of his height. 

I have also noticed, in altering some storebought tees for him this past year, that he likes a much higher armscye and tighter sleeve than is typical (actually, pretty much like the black shirt on the right of the pattern photo looks). So I raised the underarm a good inch as well, and took a vertical tuck to remove 1″ from the sleeve width. 

The V-neck went in very nicely with the provided band piece, and that, at least, got husbandly approval without alteration (and given how fussy he is about necklines I’ll take it.)

I took in the sleeves a full 3 cm off the underarm seam (so 6 cm per sleeve, in addition to my first tuck) before the fit in the sleeve was “right”; I only took 1.5 cm off the side seam, so 3 cm per seam, 6 cm around the body of the tee. So I could perhaps go down to a 38″ chest pattern. 

And that’s the story for the moment. The tee is finished and in the drawer, and at least he seems to like the fabric this time. I’m going to see how he likes wearing it (and if he wears it 😉 ) before I try another one, though. 

(Did I mention that, other than the tracing, which I did back before Christmas, this took less than an hour? And that included fitting. I could knock these out SO fast if we could nail the fit…)

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The Cave Art Quilt

There isn’t much of a reveal here, since it was pretty much all together last post, but the quilt for my dad is finished. 

I quilted in the ditch along all the major lines and then went to town with some VERY rough and ready free motion spirals and things. 

I may not be very good at it, but I really do enjoy free motion quilting. 
I outlined the figures in the central panel, again rather roughly. Wait, we were calling it “rustic”. 😉

Some of the quilting is light and some dark. Wise decision? Not necessarily. Anyway, I basically spent Saturday quilting.

Saturday afternoon, I attached the first pass of the binding, in time to go out for pre-Valentine’s day dinner and a movie with the husband and children. Yay me!

That left me with three whole days to leisurely hand-stitch the binding second pass. 

It didn’t take the whole three days, but I did take my time. And snipping threads. So many threads!

The last corner, where the join was, isn’t as tidy as the other three. In hindsight I could’ve put the join along a side where it might be less visible and had all the corners match. That’s probably a tip in a quilting book somewhere. 

I am so insanely pleased with how it turned out, warts and dodgy quilting and all. It’s finished size is about 1.5 x 2m, not a full bed size but a respectable throw. 

See?

Now it just has to hang at work for three whole months (darn craft projects)—but I will have it back in time for a Father’s Day gift, if I want to go that route. I am debating what to do with my scraps. I could probably squeeze out a pillow-case or two if he does end up using it for his bed, but I was really hoping more for it to be a couch throw. (Y’know, downstairs where I can see it. 😉 ) I could make matching cushion covers for the couch. Or a tote bag for my mom. I really should make something for her… 😂 I’m a bad, bad daughter. 

Who made a frickin quilt! 

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Tanitisis Quilts

Well, damn. I did it. 

This group of quilt cottons came into the store last fall and I fell in love. In particular, it would be perfect for a present for my Dad (an archaeologist by trade.)

I was VERY intimidated by this project. Quilting is an arcane discipline full of its own peculiar rules and terminology, and while I’m familiar with the broad strokes after four years of working at a fabric store, the devil’s in the details. 

To dip my toes in slowly (and to make the thing simple enough to do as a shop project with a tight deadline) I picked a fairly simple block for the corners, and built the rest of the quilt as a frame around the central panel, mainly with large blocks of the striped fabric. The block is called the Garden Path and is free on the McCalls website. 

So, definitely a cheater quilt. This suits me very well. I actually am ridiculously happy with how that quilt top looks, I won’t lie. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of mistakes on the quilting to make up for it. It’s a decent throw size, about 2m x 1.5m. 

And yes, that’s metric, because my lone quilting ruler is also metric. And may not actually be a quilting ruler. Fortunately, I am also good at converting inches to cm and vice versa. Also I totally get why the quilters love their rotary cutters. Someday, my precious, someday…

Piecing the back was fun. 

It’s now sandwiched and the basic quilting is done. 

Which means next I need to tackle the scary part—how much (if any) free motion quilting I can manage (or pull off) for the infill. I’ve only done FMQ once before, on my quilted skirt, and it remains a minor miracle that I pulled that off. This is much bigger and harder to wrangle, even if it isn’t a full size blanket. And I’m only just starting to appreciate the difference between working with a blank canvas like the skirt, and making the quilting work with the print and the blocks and everything. 

Wish me luck!!!!

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Brand-new pink corset

Of course as soon as I got the antique pink corset I wanted to copy it. If only to get a better sense of how it is shaped. 

This is not such a replica. If anything, it’s a crude approximation, with little of the delicacy and grace of the original. Everything is too heavy—the fabric, the boning, even (especially) the lace. It is excused only by the fact that I REALLY wanted to do a work project with this pale-pink Chinese brocade, because, um, gorgeous. 

The pattern is my altered version of Butterick 4254. The fabric is a Chinese brocade, the strength layer made from ticking. I’m out of busks, so since this is a work project I subbed in something we do carry at work—hook and eye tape. It’s not as pretty as a busk, but a bit more delicate, which is in keeping with the style of the original. It’s also really annoying to hook up, by the way. 

I made a number of poor choices in the construction, but I will say that the top and bottom lace hides any number of sins, and enhances the Victorian-hourglass impression as well. 

It also got some little pink bows (à la original) just in time for me to hang it up at work, but not in time for these quickie-bathroom-mirror pics. It is growing on me.

I made a princess-line chemise to go with it, mainly because a corset alone on a display mannequin looks a bit, ah, naked—fine for a contemporary corset, not quite the right look for a Victorian one. I was inspired by originals like this:

Although I didn’t want to do buttons, because time. Most of the princess-seamed chemises I could find online seem to come from 1900+, but The Home Needle (1882) mentions them so they were around. I couldn’t find any patterns I was super into, plus this is not exactly a proud piece of historical recreation, so I pulled out a princess-seam dress pattern, McCall’s M7189, in fact, though I think it doesn’t matter that much which exact one. I added a bit at the waist so I could slip it in without a closure, and deleted a bit at the top to add the lace neckline and straps—this took some interesting stretching and squishing of the lace to create the curve. There are two rounds of lace and I was completely astonished when it turned out to sit just right on my shoulders. 

Then I tried to save time while putting the ruffle on the bottom by using my ruffler foot to attach it, and had to tear it out three times because I made it too small. Dur!


All in all, though, I am satisfied with the overall look, given the limitations of my materials. 

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