Friday, April 29, 2011

The green skirt of knocked-off happiness

A few weeks ago, schmeebot made a request:  she wanted another skirt like this one, which we both bought at Old Navy a while back:

It's a great, basic little skirt, made out of a super-soft lightweight twill-y sort of fabric.   And if you squint a little, it kinda resembles another skirt seen recently around these parts:

 Not twins, but possibly siblings, right?   Same sort of pockets, and basic shape, just different yokes and hem treatments.   So I used the Sewaholic Crescent pattern as my starting point, and re-drafted the yoke shape (and the corresponding parts of the skirt pieces, to end up with this:

The fabric is a soft baby-wale corduroy, as I couldn't find any twill like the Old Navy skirt.  I decided that this was actually better off unlined, as it was already thick enough and hung nicely as-is.  I used some leftover quilting cotton for the yoke facing, and to make up for the fact that I'd cut the hem a little short!

I actually dusted off my serger for the pockets, and you can see the shameful fact that rather than match my serger threads to a project, I just use four cones of different colors I like and serge the rainbow.  

It took me another week and a half to get the skirt in the mail, but now it's winging its way to its new home in California.  This is my first garment "made to order", so hopefully it will hit the mark!

Friday, April 22, 2011

I am all that (whatever that may be!)

Kat of Krafty Kat recently bestowed the "I am all that!" award on me a few days ago!  Like some of the other awards floating around, this one has a little survey attached to it.  I found these questions a little more challenging than most, but I'll give it my best shot.

1.  What size shoe do you wear?  If you wear size 7, can I borrow your shoes?

I have biiiig feet.  (And loooong toes.)  Size 10 to 11 in US sizes, 41 to 42 in European sizes.  So probably 8 to 9 in UK sizing, I reckon?   Technically my feet measure to size 10.5, but most shoe manufacturers stop making half sizes at 9.5, so I am very loyal to brands whose 10s run a little big!

As for borrowing shoes ... while it's not as bad as, say, borrowing someone's toothbrush, I have only shared shoes with people I knew well.  For the brief period of time in junior high when I wore the same size as my mom, I test-drove all her running shoes.  And I inherited a beloved pair of shoes from one of my best friends in high school and wore them to death.   Of course this hypothetical size-7-shoe-wearer isn't gonna want my shoes anyhow!

2.  30s or 60s?

In terms of sewing patterns and women's fashion, I'll take the late 30s or the early 60s.  But I'm guessing I'm not allowed to assemble my own tailor-made decade from just the parts I like (especially as I am not willing to loan out any shoes).  Early 60s styles are probably the best look for my figure type, so I'll settle for that!

3.  Have you ever kissed someone you shouldn't have?

Well, yes, but I was framed.  Actually, it's kind of a funny story.

I was in high school at the time.  One morning before classes started, I was heading toward my locker when my German teacher rounded the corner from the other direction.   Now this teacher was in the habit of calling out a verb to decline whenever he encountered one of his students in the hall, so I was getting into a German frame of mind as quickly as possible.   Before 8am, this required serious focus!  

At the same moment the dreaded verb burst forth,  someone slammed into me, and before I knew it, that person's tongue was in my mouth.   I was completely unprepared for this, not least because my attacker was my best friend's boyfriend.  Oh, and this was also my first kiss ever.   I can't say I enjoyed it, as I was too worried about where my best friend and my own boyfriend were, and how I was going to handle the whole German verb situation.   (I don't think I did handle it, actually.)   Naturally the whole thing was my best friend's idea: she had a twisted sense of humor.  My boyfriend was in on it too, so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when that relationship didn't last even three weeks.

4.  Have you ever been poisoned?  Was it by the girlfriend of the person you kissed?  That is awesomely "Knot's Landing".

I've only been poisoned by a negligent Chinese restaurant.  No funny story there.

5.  Who is on your "Celebrity Free Pass" list (top five)?

I'm just not up on my celebrities.   My husband is always proud of me if I even recognize someone I've seen before in a movie or TV show.     I'm not sure why I have so much trouble ... maybe it's because I didn't have too much exposure to celebrities as a kid.    So I guess the short answer to number five is "nobody" ...  boring, but true.  But here are some of my favorite celebrities (and maybe this goes some way towards explaining the problem):

Hint:  it's the one on the left!

Ook, the owl who played Hedwig in the Harry Potter.   What could be more awesome than an owl named Ook?  Oh yeah, an owl named Ook with an acting career!

Alex the African Grey, who invented terms like "banerry" and "cork nut".

Alas, Alex is no longer with us -- he died a few years ago at age 31.  But he devoted his life to science!  You can read about him at

Now who shall I bestow this award upon?   (Hey now, don't all run away at once!)   I'm not at all offended if prefer to let this one pass you by, but should you wish to jump on board ...

Handmade Jane
Jenny at Chronically Uncool
Jenny Stitches
Sassy Lassie

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crescent skirt!

The Crescent skirt is the second pattern offering from Sewaholic patterns, and I'm happy to report it was just as awesome to sew as the Pendrell blouse!   I thought about waiting for the sew-along, but I had time to sew and the Crescent was what I wanted to make.  I made View A, and consider my first attempt to be a "wearable muslin":   I wanted the waist to sit a little lower than the pattern intends, so I made a bigger size.  Because the narrowest part of my body is actually around the vicinity of my bottom rib, skirts worn at my true waist tend to ride up.  For some reason this doesn't happen with skirts that sit closer to the hip.

Now that it's finished, I can see that what I should have done is sew my proper size and take an inch or so off the top of the yoke.   On my version, the fullness starts a little low, and I can see (by pulling up the skirt to where it was meant to sit) that it is more flattering as designed.  That said, it is still a great skirt, and super comfortable.   I think I'm gonna make a lot of these!   One other thing I'll change for future versions is the length: I added an inch, but even so it was still barely long enough for my taste, hence the bias tape hem-job.   I wish I could have found some blue that matched my ribbon, as the orange I used is close-but-not-quite and it annoys me a little.

The fabric is just some I had lying around.   It's the same quilting cotton I used for the godets in this skirt.   I lined with a pale peach batiste, also leftover from another project.  The trim on the yoke is grosgrain ribbon, which I also used in lieu of twill tape for reinforcing the pocket edges as the pattern instructs.  And speaking of what the pattern instructs -- the instructions were great, and I learned several new tricks.  They were also very clear ... until I got to how the zipper and yoke facing were attached. There I got lost, and ended up doing it my usual way.  I'll be watching this step closely during the sew-along, to figure out how it is supposed to work.

Two things I love:  pockets and lens flare!
I love, love, love the pockets on this skirt, and I think they may sneak into other skirts and dresses I make in the future.  They're nice and roomy, and so easy to sew!  

I finished this last weekend, and my next project is well underway.  It's a knockoff of an Old Navy skirt my friend schmeebot and I both bought.  She wanted another one like it, Old Navy no longer has them, and I figured it would be easy to make one.   The basic shape of the skirt is not so different from the Crescent, so I used it as my starting point.  I'm hoping to finish it today.   I'll probably make one for myself too.

Finally ... I decided to take the plunge and buy zippers in bulk:

This is what 100 zippers looks like ...
sort of a bouquet of zippers.

I acquired these from Zipperstop (who also has an online store in addition to selling on eBay) in color assortments of the two sizes I use most: 7" to 8", and 14": 100 of each!  That should keep me in zips for a while.   The 7" and 8" group was only $9.95, so a HUGE savings over buying these in brick-and-mortar stores, as I have been doing.  (The 14-inchers were $32.)  And it's the same YKK zipper that my local fabric store carries.   I didn't get to pick the colors in the assortment, but I often don't care if my zipper (or my thread, for that matter) matches perfectly.

I've also picked up some vintage sewing notion lots on eBay recently, and at some point I'll share some of my favorite items.   Provided that someone else doesn't have their heart set on it, you can often pick up these lots for cheap, and they're like finding buried treasure.  It's a blast to sift though the box when it arrives!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finished bird dress

I finished and photographed my dress last weekend.   It's yet another variation on Butterick 6149.  For this one, I took the adjustments I made on the asymmetrically-buttoned one, but moved the buttons back to the center, and made a dirndl skirt rather than using the full skirt that came with the pattern.  As I mentioned previously, I also pulled out some of my most favorite fabric, from Joel Dewberry's Aviary series.  I really love fabric with birds on it!

For some reason, I managed to make a number of little mistakes on this one, but I don't think they show in the final product.   I had to use Fray Check not once but twice on this project, which is a first.  It's along part of the seam where the zipper is installed, since there wasn't enough width to finish it the way I usually do.  I also used on the top corner of the button placket, where I poked my point-turner (aka a knitting needle) through while trying to turn it.  Argh!

I also managed to make it too narrow at the waist somehow.  I ended up letting out the back darts a little to give myself some breathing room.  I think less dart-y darts at the lower back may actually be a good adjustment for me.  I have narrow shoulders and routinely increase the darts (or add some) for the shoulders/upper back, but never thought about adjusting the back waist.

I was worried that a lined, dirndl skirt made out of quilting cotton would be too bulky at the waist with all that gathering, but I trimmed the seam allowances as much as I dared and it seems to work.   I like this skirt shape, and it's a nice way to change up a pattern.  And in this case, it allowed me to avoid sideways birds on the skirt!

The bird placement is part planning, part luck.  I really should have cut the two bodice fronts separately for max birdage. (And to avoid birds with their heads eaten by darts in my armpit.  Oops.)  I suppose that I should just be happy that I cut everything right side up, given the  high error rate on this project.

Here's an inside-out shot.  The lining is a cotton batiste, as per usual:

I used to try and attach the entire facing edge wrong sides together and turn.  But with those two sharp angles, it's enough to make you crazy.  I've decided I'm just as happy sewing the top and bottom (the two vertical stretches) wrong sides together, and then just turning the the horizontal edge under and top-stitching.   Since I imagine that explanation made very little sense, perhaps a photo will help:

There were some pockets on here too but I decided I didn't like them.  For one thing, the placement wasn't quite right, but I think they made the front of the dress a little too busy with this print.  So now I have some orphan pockets:  I'm hoping they will be a fabulous addition to some skirt or dress someday.

I tried tried photographing myself without a camera, but those shots came out far more awkward.    I need something in my hands!  Here's a better short of the camera: it's a little grubby, but it still works great.  

It's a 1950s Herbert George Co. Imperial Mark XII.  They came in black, red, gray, tan and light green too, but this light blue color is my favorite.  There were also "official" Girl and Boy Scouts versions of this camera.