Tag Archives: whining

Home stretch.


My husband’s shirt is done and my uncle’s vest nearly. I am bribing myself to finish the shirt for my father’s Christmas present. It’s a short-sleeved Negroni, about as easy as a shirt can get, and I am following the instructions to the letter (to the best of my abilities, anyway… I suck at following instructions.) so I don’t have to expend mental energy thinking about other ways to do things. And I want SO BADLY to throw it all in the corner an make a Tiramisu.



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So much to do, so little time. Mostly Christmas sewing.

Plugging away on my Uncle’s vest.

Cake Patterns Tiramisu came in the mail—yay! No time to make it up though. Booo.

Also, more annoying travel. 14 hrs in car in three days.

And there was the kids’ holiday concert. Tyo had lines, Syo was adorable as “Une rose dans une jardin magique”, but I was trying to video on the iPhone (fail) and my SIL’s camera died a few minutes in. So no photos. 😛


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A denim debate.

So, I’m pretty much due for a new pair of jeans. It’s been over a year, believe it or not, since I last made myself a pair, and not because I’ve stopped wearing my me-made jeans or anything. But apparently when you have more than two or three pairs in rotation, jeans last a lot longer. Who knew. But there’s some red denim in stash that’s getting louder and louder…

Anyway, as my me-made jeans age and acquire that broken-in appearance that’s so much a part of the jeans look (to the point where we pay hundreds of dollars for a good worn finish), I’ve noticed one subtle, yet nagging difference between my me-mades and storebought jeans.

It’s the ripple.

The Ripple

You know what I mean. The way the fabric between the two lines of topstitching makes this little repeating wave, which wears into bands of light and dark. It also happens along the non-topstitched edge of the outseam, wherever the seam allowance habitually falls.

Left: storebought; right: me-made

And it doesn’t happen, (or barely, barely happens) even after years of wear, on my me-made jeans. Now my first thought, of course, was “what sophisticated little wear-roller are they running along all the seams in their big jeans factories?!?” Then, of course, my brain kicked in—this feature is far too universal (especially on my husband’s sturdy work-wear, no-fancy-finish jeans) to not be inherent in something about the jeans-making process.

And then it hit me. (Hush, I can be slow if I want to.)

Shrinking. Because, like a good little sewist, I pre-shrink my fabric and then construct my pants, whereas commercial jeans, from what I understand, are shrunk after construction. (Can you imagine trying to launder huge industrial rolls of denim?) So that characteristic ripple is probably the result of post-stitching shrinkage. Which is why my jeans have comparatively little ripple (and if I was really good and pre-washed my denim multiple times, as is often recommended, they probably wouldn’t have any ripple at all), and even brand-new dark-washes from the store, like the ones above on the right in the left picture above (how’s that for confusing), have a well-developed ripple.

Now, I’m not so concerned about this for the red jeans, but in general it’s bugging me. And it’s bugging me more the more I think about it. It’s one of those legitimacy issues. Jeans are supposed to have it. If my jeans don’t, they’re not “real jeans”. Which, yes, is all in my head. But it’s still one of those things, y’know.

So yeah, I’m seriously considering, when I run through my current set of denims (most of which have been pre-washed already), trying to enlarge my pattern so I can shrink my jeans after construction.

Bad idea? Probably. Even with doing test-swatches. I mean, from what I understand it took jeans companies ages to figure out how to wash their jeans and still get consistent sizing, which is why, at least in North America, they didn’t usually sell pre-washed jeans until the 80s (or sometime thereabouts.) My mom talks about how you always bought so many inches larger in the waist and longer in the leg than you needed, and just hoped that it would work out when it came out of the wash.

But I want the ripple, dammit. And I don’t want to have to sit there and sandpaper each individual fold by hand. 😉

So what do you think? Is the ripple worth it?


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Holy Frock!

A tale of terror, tailoring, and tragedy.

The Coat.

Okay, I’m no good with suspense. I need to get this over quickly. I finished Osiris’s frock coat.  This is what it looked like Friday evening, as we headed out for a night on the town.


Here’s a slightly-clearer closeup.

And this is what it looked like Sunday afternoon…

Continue reading


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Brung Low

I have had the blerg. That is, the the-kids-have-been-back-at-school-just-long-enough-to-incubate-new-strains-of-plague annual fall cold. Blerg.

On the up-side, I have an excuse to do nothing but hunker down, drink tea, and catch up on some of the blog-reading I’ve missed over the last three weeks. And think about my fantasy sewing in a bit more focused way. On the minus side, I haven’t been coherent enough to do anything useful, never mind anything fun.

The kids have decided, and we (most especially Osiris) have agreed, to being a Steampunk family for Hallowe’en. I’m all kinds of conflicted over this.

I really sort of loathe Hallowe’en costumes. I mean, I love a really cool costume. love love love. But. There are few things I hate more than making something that will only be worn once. If we could have Steampunk Club every week, I’d be all over the costuming. But for once a year? Erk. On the other hand, the idea of shelling out money (of which we have very little right now) for the godawful atrocities that pass for storebought costumes fills me with shame and horror.

So, sewing costumes it is. /sigh.

Osiris will be easy. In fact, all he really needs is some goggles (please nominate your favourite goggle tutorial 😉 ) and maybe some other accessories—everything else he pretty much already has, although if I were motivated to finish his frock coat I’m sure he’d happily wear that.

ZOMG I bought a brand-new pattern.

I’m less clear for myself, although I did pick up this Simplicity pattern at the $2 sale last weekend. I love the coat, although my deep suspicion of costume patterns makes me assume that it will be poorly-drafted and lacking sufficient internal structure to look right. I should probably at least read some reviews before I come to that conclusion, though. There was another pattern with a bustled overskirt thing that I also like, but it was featured in the Fabricland flyer and so long sold out by the time I got there. /sigh. Of course it’s the sort of thing I can figure out on my own, but for two dollars, not having to make it up might’ve been worth it. And I have (or rather my mother has) a perfect hat already.) Although my make-life-harder reflex is yammering something about “Steampunk Seamstress” that involves an antique-sewing-machine-looking-backpack…

Sketchies—Tyo’s costume.

Which brings us to the kids. We spent some time sketching on the weekend, although this was a bit frustrating since every time one girl came up with a good idea the other decided she wanted it, too—but they don’t at all want the same costume. >_<

Anyway, Tyo seems to have settled on some high-waisted shorts (over stripey stockings and the boots that started this whole thing) with braces, a corset/bodice thing, and a jacket with short coat-tails. After some wibbling and sorting through my patterns, I decided to try drafting the shorts based on Pepin’s instructions from Modern Pattern Design (1942). I drafted it on Inkscape, which isn’t perfect but is decent for computer drafting. This wasn’t too hard, at least when tackled in twenty-minute stretches as I zoned in and out of blergishness (this was one of those colds where it’s too uncomfortable to sleep, or really do much of anything, for very long), but I have yet to print the pattern and try drafting it, so I won’t declare any kind of victory yet. I have a feeling the hip curve is going to be off and the rear-dart-shaping is going to require work (and probably a swayback adjustment). On the other hand, they have the longer-back/shorter front crotch length like the Burda pants-draft, which seems to be a generally good feature.

Syo is all about the lacing. She wants lacing on her shorts (not high-waisted, though, preferably leather) and lace-up arm covers. This doesn’t strike me as overly Steampunk, but I imagine we can manage. She wants a corset but she’s not going to get one. Maybe a corset-seamed bodice. I’m hoping I can talk her into a cute little vest. They both want tiny top-hats… we’ll see.

Of course, with Steampunk a lot comes down to the accessories. Vaguely Victorian clothing, I can come up with fairly easily (although the number of individual pieces is slightly terrifying at the moment, considering I’ve scarcely stitched in a month). Accessories will require more work. Obviously, some googling is in order. Or, y’know, if any of you care to share your favourite steampunk costume or accessory or tutorial, I’d love to check them out! 😉

Also, it appears there will be corsets. (or things having a generally corset-like appearance) For Tyo certainly, and quite possibly for me. I have plenty of patterns, although not in Tyo’s size. Which brings on the debate—grade or draft? I’ve never made a corset before, but having read obsessively about them for several years I’m reasonably comfortable with the basic ideas, at least for costume purposes. But I’m pretty sure that the patterns I have, which are all Misses-size, are not going to be anything like the right proportions, even if I graded down to her size (which is about a Misses’ size 4). Decisions, decisions.

Obviously I need to sign myself up for Peter’s Hallowe’en Sewalong, stat.


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Last year at this time I managed to pull together a pattern to share. This year, what with moving, I fear that’s been the last thing on my mind. And, frankly, with a lot of the big changes in my life recently I could pretty easily be pretty whiny and down on this birthday. Which wouldn’t be very fun for anyone, least of all me. So let’s focus on the good things.

I have (often) happy, (generally) healthy kids, who despite their loud protests are settling in to their new lives just fine.

I have a man whom I love and who loves me back, and we’ve managed to make our way together for more good years than any of our parents had. Even if he did go and beat Darksiders II last week while I was busy.

I have loving and supporting family on all sides. (Even better now that they’re no longer hundreds of kilometres away.)

I have a head full of ideas, interests, and dreams, even if I can’t quite manage to figure out how to make any of them particularly practical.

And, not to be too maudlin, but I have your support as readers. It’s really, really awesome.

Oh, and Osiris took me across town on the motorcycle to pick up my birthday present:




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Wads of wadders.

Wadders can be cute, too.

I’ve been trying to make myself into a better skeptic, the last few years. Critical thinking and all that. Evidence. So generally, I’m skeptical of the idea of curses.

But right now, dear readers, my (admittedly anecdotal) evidence is that drapey, clingy, stretchy red jersey is, indeed, cursed. This is the second piece I’ve thoroughly demolished (the first was briefly figured here, which top never really grew on me, and the one I made from the rest of that piece was so horrific it never even got blogged.)

So, this is not my favourite kind of knit. But it is one I’ve successfully worked with on occasion. My cowl-neck shirt, for one. My friggin tunic top I made the pattern for, for another. The slinky maxi fabric I used just recently was a little beefier, but not much.

So why did this fabric defeat me so?

Closeup. Aieee.

Partly, I guess, the answer is laziness. What I wanted was a quick knit top to whip up in the hour or so I had before bed. And to trial Jalie 2788, the twist top. Not so much for it’s own sake (although it’s cute), but because what I *really* want to make is a cute dress like this Burda one, but I don’t want to pay five bucks for a download pattern when I already have a twist-front pattern on hand. Albeit  a slightly different twist, but anyway. Yes, I’m a cheapskate. Anyway, because I wanted quick, (and I had cut out the shirt before and tossed the scraps) I didn’t want to sit around practicing neckline finishes.

(More blog shoes)

Sometimes, I manage to get away with this kind of half-assery. Just, not this time. The pattern suggests folding over and topstitching. I first attempted to do this straight; Not going to happen. Cut that off,  put on my usual binding, but it was fiddly and wound up stretched not enough in some spots, too much in others. And I think it’s really a bit heavy for this style of top.. Then decided to use Steam a Seam for the arms and hems. This worked much better, and is what I should’ve done for the neck, too.Why didn’t I? Well, partly because I’ve run out of (or misplaced) my Steam a Seam strip/roll, so all I have left is the wide stuff for applique, and I get really tired of just cutting little slices off of it. I need to get another twin-needle for topstitching, too.

Back view. Could use more swayback adjustment.

And then when I got it to try-on stage, it was too big—baggy and saggy in unflattering ways. The measurements for my size are, seriously, *perfect*—the only alteration I made was to add a little swayback adjustment, since there’s already a back seam. But, the fabric is pretty darn stretchy, so I’m going to blame that on the fabric. So I took it in a couple cm on each side and at the shoulder seam. Now the length to the bust is pretty good, and things are a lot less saggy-baggy except right around the neck binding,  Except apparently I should’ve kept the ease below the waist, because AIEE that is too tight to be flattering. Not my best area, there, upper hips and lower belly. /sigh. Must work on that, soon.

And then I tried to make panties, from a pattern traced off one of my fave pair of boy-cuts, from the remnant

Undies. Fail.

Also fail. Partly for shoddy construction, but mostly because this elastic, which I bought more for its cuteness than any practical plans, is not nearly stretchy enough.

Just for the record, this is probably the third pair of underwear I’ve attempted that didn’t end up wearable.

I’m going to bed now.


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Thank you, ElleC


In an effort to make me feel better as my brain esplodes with all the crazy* going in my life right now, famed philanthropist ElleC sent me a care-package.

Two books on nifty sewing techniques.

Because something else to read is exactly what I need right now.

Not to mention inspiration about time-consuming hand-decorating techniques I HAVE NO TIME FOR.

Yes, like all ElleC’s gifts, this one is edged with malice aforethought. However, I am quite sure I will thoroughly enjoy reading through both Sewing with Knits (practical!)  and Fine Embellishment Techniques (exciting!)

Thank you, ElleC.

Thank you.

No, I mean it, really. 😀

Also, Canada Post managed to deliver these in like, two days? Which is insanely impressive for them. I mean, ElleC and I aren’t located too far apart, as the crow flies, but there’s still like mountains in the way and stuff. Thank you, Canada Post.

*I.e. trying to finish a PhD thesis, juggle various family medical issues (not mine), and preparing to move back to our hometown at the end of the summer with neither savings nor promising career prospects, all without having a total nervous breakdown.


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Fantasy sewing: Fantastic Menswear

A little while back, Peter posted one of his periodic dirges discussing the dearth of stylish modern menswear patterns. However, not one to be a negative Nellie, he went on to highlight one of the more exciting periods, historically, in menswear, the 1970s, and, in particular, the patterns Butterick—the Fashion One—put out for men during this time period. (And the ready availability of said patterns today, often in uncut condition—which probably says something about why they don’t still make ’em like that)

This touching paean niggled something in my memory. Something about 70s menswear.

Butterick 4711

Aha! there it is, folks, Butterick 4711, a men’s suit pattern I thrifted for, as you can see, the princely sum of a half dollar, uncut except for the vest. And designed by, or at least approved by?, Robert L. Green, whoever that is. (Ok, apparently he was the style director at Playboy during the 60s and 70s, among other things.)

While I certainly couldn’t resist this pattern, especially in the size 40 (exactly my husband’s size! Well, for the jacket, anyway), the odds of me actually making it up are, ah, infinitesimal. My husband, despite being only a couple of years older than me, came of age firmly in the 80s. He’d be much more likely to wear this pattern (image also courtesy of Peter) than a very 70s suit.

That being said, Peter’s post prompted me to pull out the pattern and peruse the instructions, as one does, y’know. Some nifty details emerged:

A very nifty fly indeed.

French Fly! (Or at least, that’s what Carolyn called it. See her tutorial. See it now. (durr, I wasn’t paying attention and scanned the picture of the fly, but not the part of the instructions concerning it. Oh well. Go read Carolyn’s tutorial instead.)

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets that hang from the waistband–COOL! Maybe you’ve seen this detail elsewhere? I don’t think I have, not that I’m overly versed in fine tailoring. Still cool.

Vest with odd neck bit.

Odd back-neck strap on the vest. Apparently whoever made the vest before thought it was odd, too, as it’s been clipped off the front pattern and pinned in place on the other piece.

I didn’t get into the jacket instructions, partly because they’re too involved for the amount of time/energy I have right now, partly because it’s for only a partial lining, which isn’t acceptable in menswear as far as I’m concerned, not that I’m any kind of expert.

Now, my husband won’t wear any element of this suit, as I said, except perhaps the vest. My husband does wear vests. And wear them very well, I may add. 😉 My very ticklish fancy is currently dying to make him a soft and summery vest in white slub linen. Of course, I don’t have any white slub linen… but a plain white linen would do (see photo at the top).

Of course if I propose this, he’s going to ask where his jacket is.


But it’s a good fantasy, isn’t it?

Oh, I also got, at the same time, the coordinating boy’s suit pattern:

Butterick 5205

If only I had a sartorially adventurous twelve-year-old boy to sew for. No? Maybe not.


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Second verse, same as the first!

A little bit louder and a little bit worse!

I’m about 95% sure I’ve used that as a post title before.

Yet it works, so very, very well.

Tyo’s fishing vest is finished. I was able to avoid some of my mistakes from the first time around, and instead make a whole new crop. I’d say overall, I did not improve significantly. Although I think all the practice with cargo pockets has helped some in that department. And some of the mistakes were the ones I have to make in order to learn why X shortcut was a bad idea. Yes, I tend to have to learn things the hard way. Especially with sewing.

Whaddaya lookin’ at?

The details are all the same as this post, the only difference being I had snaps and D-rings this time, so there are two snaps and a D-ring at the nape of the neck, which is apparently a handy place to hang your little fishing net from. To fit Syo I graded the basic vest pieces up, increasing width by about 4 cm around and length by about 1 cm. I interfaced all the vest body, instead of just the back yoke, this time, which will hopefully add to the vest’s sturdiness (it’s a very lightweight denim), but necessitated some extra pocket linings that I forgot to incorporate properly and had to engineer into place rather late in the construction process. Oops.

Back view

Here’s the only shot you can see the D-ring at the back of the neck.

My girl.

Here’s some random poses.

This one was supposed to show the pockets better.

I’m really far too bored by this whole project to go into the annoying details. If you have something specific you’re dying to know, feel free to ask in the comments and I promise I’ll answer.

And now, on to bigger, better things! (and a fly fishing rod case. Ulp.)


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