Tag Archives: finished projects

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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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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Love and Loathing for red lace

Ok, I am so done with this coat. I can’t even. It was half done when the store closed  (it’s a shop project of course) and I totally lost steam and, well, blerg.  

There’s nothing really wrong. The pattern is McCalls’ M7025. The fabric is a polyester coating printed with this gorgeous lace pattern. I am such a sucker for lace print! And a black to match. Neither are particularly great quality, and I’m dubious about how the print will hold up to wear as there’s a lot of white behind the thin surface printing. 

I skipped the giant patch pockets.


The fit is good, if a little snug with all my interlining and stuff. I made the size 12 grading to a 10 only at the shoulders. (I raised it under the armpits a bit too much but that’s easy enough to adjust after the fact.) I thought the amount of length I added to the sleeves was completely ridiculous, but now that they’re on, they’re nearly perfect. My definition of perfect is probably an inch longer than normal people’s, but that’s the result of a lifetime of too-short sleeve trauma. 

The bound buttonholes were a bit of an afterthought, and they’re not perfect, and I feel like they nearly killed me but actually it wasn’t that bad, just nerve wracking. Trying to do  conventional buttonholes on a regular machine would’ve been even worse, though. And they look amazing so there’s that. 

Oh, yeah, added braid piping between lining and facings.


And maybe I just didn’t have the energy for a really elaborate project. But I’ve been ogling this pattern since it came out and the red lace-printed coating was just too unique and perfect and, well, shop projects always seem like a good idea when you first take them out…

Anyway, it’s done now. 

My favourite touch is the slotted seams I added along the princess lines, though it is hard to see in the photos. 

I did a neat alteration to the back neck facing that I completely failed to photograph, too. 

You can almost see it here… No, not really. Oh, the pattern has some separate lining pieces (yay!) but not all of them (aww) so the lining is supposed to have the extra seam partway down the skirt, too. I did not want that. It wasn’t too hard to overlap the edges of the two pieces to cut them as one. 

Anything else to say? This make was so stretched out I’ve forgotten half of it. The sleeves are quite narrow at the upper arm, wide at the cuff. I do like the elbow dart for shaping though. Lots of sleeve cap ease. I chopped off a bunch. 


Oh, yeah, I interlined  with Thinsulate, body, upper skirt, and sleeves. Trimmed off the seam allowances and did butted seams on the body. 

I must have miscalculated somewhere on what seam allowance I took off the front but otherwise that worked well for the bodice. I was a bit more stumped for the sleeves. (Incidentally, standard wisdoms for interlining seems to be “quilt it to the lining”. This probably works well, but I HATE QUILTED LININGS. They fill me with visions of really ugly early 80s parkas. Anyway, it’s really hard to sew a butted seam up a sleeve. Not impossible, but annoying enough that I spent several weeks avoiding it. In the end, I replaced the seam allowances I had cut off the edges of the Thinsulate with ugly flat bias tape zig-zagged on top so the bias tape stuck out past the edge of the Thinsulate, and underlined the coating fabric for the sleeves. This actually worked quite well, and I wish I’d gotten pictures but by this time I was in mad-last-minute-panic mode. Also you have to finish the edges of Thinsulate with a zig-zag at least, otherwise the outer layers shift and the inner fluff starts escaping. 

It’s hanging in the shop now, finally. I will probably like it better by the time I get it back. It’s certainly very striking. I had been kinda hoping this would be the mythical “warmer than the winter coat” that I’ve been dreaming of for the past six or seven years, but I don’t think it’ll be quite there, alas. But at least I’ll look fabulous… 😂

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Sewing an Angel

Or, A Completeley Impractical Diversion

The other week Scarlett of Corsettraining.net put her Angel Underbust corset pattern on for a ridiculously low price (even allowing the dollars tacked on for converting to CAD), and I jumped. And then, in the impulsive free-flow following my change of work priorities, I dug through some of the proto-corset stash and started making it up. 

That’s right, no mockup. Just straight to fashion fabric. Keeping in mind I’m pretty sure the brocade was a gift and the strength layer behind is from an old bedsheet I once bought to use as muslin fabric, which is some kind of rocklike poly blend that I think would make sleeping positively perilous, but it’s so sturdy and unforgiving it seemed destined for backing a more-or-less fashion corset. So, um, not a high investment in materials. 

This is supposed to be a low-fronted underbust corset with hip flare panels that give it quite a distinct look. Unfortunately, the low front requires only about a 9″ busk, which is rather shorter than anything I have in stock—so, since this was a MAKE IT NOW kind of impulse, I added height to the top on the front to fit my available busk. I think the straight look would have been fun, though. 

My busy brocade also pretty effectively hides the cool seaming, too. 

I followed the directions for sizing and cut a 12, and it’s basically perfect. Aside from the added height in front, I did a small swayback adjustment. (If I don’t do those I find the corset makes me slouch—I bend my upper body forward rather than tucking my butt under)—and that’s it. There’s a tiny bit of buckling around the back hip where my hips want to flare out sooner than the pattern does, and a bit of looseness in front where I added at the top, but those are the only quibbles I can come up with for fit, and the one is very specific to my body while the other one is my own doing. 

I have some minor complaints about the way the pattern/instructions are put together, but as Scarlett is apparently in the process of revising all her pattern formats I won’t go into it, as it’s not likely to be relevant. And I’m sufficiently thrilled with the fit that I’m not too bothered. 

The guts are not pretty; this is my first attempt at applying tape for bone covers and… Well, I think it will be functional. And I forgot the waist stay, despite it being clearly included from basically step one of the instructions. D’oh. (Oh, and I did not follow the construction instructions, either, so that’s all me, too.) 

Anyway, I had a lot of fun rooting through my tickle trunk for items to wear with this. The skirt I bought at a goth shop in London when I was there in 2009, and the top is a vest I made as part of a dance costume, based on the vest in the Folklore Turkish Dancer pattern—part of my first push, around 2008, to improve my sewing, but well before it occurred to me I could make everyday clothes. Neither has been worn more than once or twice, sigh. It was nice to pull them out and put them together!

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A zombie fighting coat

Last winter sometime, the movie Pride & Prejudice & Zombies snuck through the theatres. I honestly don’t even remember hearing about it. But when we finally got around to watching it this summer, boy did we have a lot of fun! Fun frocks, ass kicking, undead, explosions… Syo, in particular, fell hard for the outfit Lizzie wears at the movie climax, which is quite excellent for dismembering zombies if I do say so myself.

Enter McCall’s 7493. Hello coat! While it’s not perfect, it’s a pretty good stab at the screen version. Up to and including that weird decorative dart on the upper front chest (See Instagram discussion here.)

I don’t think the collar is quite as long and drapy as it could be, nor is it attached in quite the same way. Whatevs.

14374376_716658838488861_2039534425313640448_nAlso, ah, if it’s my daughter who’s crazy for this outfit, why is it me I’m making the coat for?

Um, selfish. We’ll leave it at that. I can always make her one later. Also, she’s the same size as me right now other than height—all I’d have to do for hers would be make the skirt and sleeves shorter.

So there are some good things and some bad things to this pattern. I like the two piece sleeve, the shoulder seam that’s thrown to the back (an “authentic” touch that wouldn’t really matter since this is not a real historical costume, but makes me happy) and most of all that the amount of ease is minimal! So, um, make your actual size. I was actually fully prepared to cut a size 12 as per my bust measurement (or maybe just a 10 at the shoulders) until I remembered the outer fabric I was using is REALLY stretchy. So I did a 10 in everything, and it’s fine but only because of the stretch. After my usual fit alterations (petite, square shoulder, lengthen sleeve) I’m REALLY happy with the fit. Not something I have often said about costume patterns. If you’re looking to put together a historically accurate spencer or pelisse, this is probably not the right pattern, but if you just want something quick and fun, it’s fine.

The bad things are really the usual—costume grade construction. It’s designed to be lined, but just by cutting the same pattern pieces in lining, and while that might be period, the construction certainly isn’t. And, no facing pieces or anything. And the instructions for the lining would leave you with raw edges at the armscye sleeve. Not necessarily the end of the world, but definitely a bit costume-grade, IMO. Not that I ever follow McCalls coat instructions.

14482022_673990542777636_9100219467459198976_nMy fabric of choice is a dark blue piled stretch cotton the strange powers that be at Fabricland saw fit to call “stretch velvet.” It’s a terrible excuse for velvet, but a perfectly lovely no-wale stretch corduroy. It is definitely heavier and less drapey than the movie fabric, which from the poster at the top looks like maybe a faux-suede or some kind of suit-weight fabric. For a Canadian Hallowe’en, though, heavier is good.

I couldn’t find a nice shiny dark blue brocade ANYTHING for the drapey collar, so after some brainstorming with my shop mates, I decided to try to make my own with soutache appliquéd onto a satin. Duchesse satin, actually, the heavy matte stuff. Not the best choices for a waterfall collar, I agree. But I do like the look. In hindsight a bemberg rayon might have done as well.

I do like how it looks, though, even if it’s not the best materials/idea for what I am using it for.

My soutache embroidery was inspired by this cute little spencer. If I’d had more soutache (and time) it would’ve been fun to go to town like this on the bodice as well. Maybe for another project.

14310726_1782455938691036_755437739_nAll that soutache applique was both fun and terrifying to do. I’m kind of glad it was firmly in costume-land as it kept me from obsessing too much over perfection.

2016-11-06-17-32-58I did a lot of piping, although I wish I would’ve piped those back princess seams. I didn’t pipe the edge of the collar, in an attempt to preserve whatever nonexistent drape it might have, but since it still has no drape I kinda wish I’d done that too. It is currently pinned into place to secure the folds, and I’ll probably tack them down.

2016-11-06-17-31-30I bound my seams with bias binding, as well. When I could remember. I made bias-binding with the heavy satin I used for the lining/collar, overlocking one edge. This was a) fast and neat, and b) nicely finished the edge, which tends to fray on satin bias binding, because satin has intense fraying super-powers. Only the skirt is fully lined. I say “only” but the skirt has easily three times as much fabric as the top bit. Maybe five times. The skirt is lined in the same duchesse satin as the collar (minus embroidery). Goodbye project budget! It certainly would’ve been easier to attach the skirt neatly with a lining. As it is i bound the back seam and it took some unpicking and handstitching to get everything where it should be. The skirt is LONG, by the way. I took a full 2″ hem and it still brushes the floor if I’m in flat feet—and I’m 5’7″. If you are shorter, check the length and save yourself some fabric. 😉

I added 3″ in length to the sleeves, petite’d out 1/2″ through the armscye, and did a square shoulder adjustment by slashing and spreading the front bodice pieces  where I guessed the shoulder line would be (not at the shoulder seam, mind you.) I’m pretty happy with all these changes—they are very much my usual adjustments.

The (lack of) ease works only because of the stretch fabric—if I’d used a non-stretch using my proper size would’ve been the way to go. Which is honestly pretty refreshing. I would stick with a 10 in the shoulders, though.

14714510_1813433092275358_5651808285838278656_n

Here’s the best shot I got of Syo wearing it on Hallowe’en—I am such a terrible Hallowe’en photographer. As you can see it is far too long, but otherwise fits her very well. Really the whole thing deserves much better photos, but if I wait for those I’ll never blog at all. 😦

In other news, I may have purchased Redthreaded’s rather expensive single-size Regency long stays pattern for the costume as well… I could possibly have finagled something similar by extending the Sensibility Patterns short-stays pattern I have, but, easy won. I will discuss that costume item when/if I can get some decent photos. 😉

2016-10-31-18-00-33

In any case, a fun Hallowe’en was had by all! (And very creepily, the weather this first week of November has been as lovely as the weather throughout October was terrible. This weekend it was verging on 20C—I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such warm temperatures in November.)

 

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