Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Tired Loser and Five Winners!!

Second day on the job, and I'm absolutely knackered. Part of this is due to the EPIC PILE OF MANUALS I need to read, but most of it is from trying to switch from a night owl schedule to an early bird schedule (and not succeeding very well). Sadly, no sewing has been done at all.

HOWEVER, I should probably announce the winners of the vintage pattern giveaway! I've been in contact with 3 of the 5 winners of the vintage pattern giveaway, and they've chosen their patterns. Unfortunately, the last two winners don't have an email address available online, or at least, no where that I saw. *shakes finger* So I'm announcing people who won and their pattern choices.

1. MysMichelle the Outlawlady from Adventures of a Stoned Kangaroo Choice 5
2. Tanit-Isis from Tanit-Isis Sews Choice 2
3. Amber Elayne from Amber - Gemini Extraordinaire Choice 1
4. Toferet from Toferet's Empty Bobbin
5. Ghijsmom

Toferet and Ghijsmom, can you two please contact me, either in the comments below with an email address, or email me at sewingonpins at gmail dot com. I'm going away for the weekend, but I'll be in touch next week!

Congratulations to those who won! I wish I had enough patterns (and shipping money) to send you all patterns. I really appreciated you reading and signing up for the giveaway!

And I'm sorry this post wasn't a bit more upbeat. Instead, it's just plain beat. I hope you all have a great weekend! I plan to spend time with my family. And sleep.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wardrobe Failure!

So, I'd planned to wear the above outfit to my first day of work (with a cardigan or jacket on top). Professional, but not too over-dressed (my Boss wore jeans to my interview).

Except when I just tried it on, the skirt is too short! NOOO!

Can I sew a skirt in an hour? We'll see.


I did the draw, and am starting to contact the winners in order of the draw. Results posted in a couple days.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall/Winter Wardrobe Planning (sort of)

Okay everyone, the vintage pattern giveaway will be drawn TOMORROW (sometime in the afternoon/early evening Central Standard time - because I will be freaking out during the day preparing for my first day of work on Wednesday), so sign up now if you'd like a chance to win some lovely patterns!


As you well know, I've been a little busy sewing clothes for myself. While it may seem a little disjointed at times, I'm actually Sewing With A Plan. I've had this fall/winter wardrobe tentatively worked out for months now, although I've been hesitant to share because I keep changing my mind about things.

Tonight, I decided to lump all of my wardrobe pieces and planned pieces together to see how it all looked. After doing so, I thought maybe I'd share. So far, it's a mix of me-made and RTW.

I know it's too small to see details, but details weren't the point - rather the overall impression. I'm generally going for a 'plain bottom, fun and interesting top, plain topper' kind of look. Boring maybe, but easy to toss together when it's too early in the morning to think.

The back row are toppers, mostly cardigans. Three dresses are hung on the right hand side, including my very wrinkly Mariana Trench dress (it's been in a suitcase since June). The rest are tops. Some you've seen, some you haven't, but should eventually.

The upper three pieces of fabric, as well as the polka dot in the middle, will be made into variations of the same pattern. That's a post for another day, though. The blue knit on the left will be made up into another New Look 6807, and the white knit on the bottom will probably be a tank top - more of an undershirt, because I can't really pull off white near my face. The grey knit will be made into a cardigan. All of these knits are basically waiting on me working up my nerve to deal with Knit Drama (aka hems) again, although now that I've got a double needle, it may be easier.

My colour scheme is basically shown below, but of course there are variations and some additions.

I'm well aware that this palette isn't really on trend, but I don't care. I love the colours, they look good on me (other than white), and they make me happy. For some reason, I'm really drawn to the navy blue/burgundy/grey colours this year.

I didn't include bottoms in the picture, mostly because they're not as much of a priority right now, despite not actually owning a lot of bottoms at the moment. My new job will predominantly involve field work for the next while, and having lovely trousers and pretty skirts aren't really a priority for me. Sadly, jeans and other hard-wearing pants will have to do for now. However, I have plans to get going on muslining a pair of trousers (using Simplicity 2562 - pictured below), since I have a feeling the fit is going to be fun. (Some of you may remember my last sad attempt at trousers, and my body has only gotten...ahem, curvier since then.) For now, I really need to concentrate on tops, because I really don't have much by way of them anymore.

Anywho, sorry for the rambling. I'm mostly thinking out loud (via blogger), and sadly you guys get the brunt of it. But you'll forgive me, right?



*crickets chirping*

Ooo crickets! Crickets always forgive and care! I love you, crickets!

Happy sewing, crickets!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Some Babbling, and a Surprisingly Great Birthday Gift!

Boy I've been posting a lot lately, eh? That's mostly because it's an activity that keeps me busy and happy when I'm unemployed and have no responsibilities. Kept the blues away. Of course, now that I'll be starting my new job on Wednesday, I won't be able to get away with sewing all afternoon and night, so I'm trying to get it out of my system now.

Plus I have way too much fabric laying around, and not many clothes. Seems like a good way to spend my time! That said, once I start working, the posts will probably drop off from the daily posting I've been doing, although I'll still be posting a couple times a week. (I hope!)


That said, I have another finished project to share with you. To celebrate her birthday, Tanit-Isis decided to share the pattern she created for her Grecian Goddess dress. Sadly, she hadn't had a chance to grade the pattern, and I don't think there was any way I was getting my leg into a dress her size, never mind the rest of me. But then on Thursday, she posted the multi-sized pattern! By some coincidence (I prefer to call it Fate), I'd just gotten the old printer working, so of course I scurried off to print it.

Now, I have to admit, I didn't expect to like this pattern on me, since Tanit-Isis and I are physically very different people. But I wanted to try it out anyways, and I needed a break from the corduroy jacket. Granted, I opted to make a top instead of a dress, and a self-fabric sash instead of the shirring (I find shirring a little uncomfortable). But I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised! This makes a gorgeous and very comfortable top, and I think the dress would be even better.

I made a size L, but graded to an XL below the waist, out of a shirting fabric found at the thrift store. I don't think I needed to grade to a larger size below the waist, since there's a lot of ease at the hips. Next time, I won't bother. The neckline is gorgeous, and the shoulder gathers even more so. The sleeves hit me at a nice length, and there's no gaping under the arm. And it's remarkably comfortable to wear!

The only complaint I have about this pattern is the back. Perhaps it's my fabric, which is a bit heavier than what Tanit-Isis used, or perhaps it's just the way my back is, but I find the back of the garment winds up with some strange wrinkles. Maybe if this was actually shirred, it would lay better. In fact, doing the actual shirring would probably also reduce the amount of fiddling I do with this top, as I tend to futz with the gathers around the belt. I may yet do a few lines of shirring to see if this helps. But otherwise, I'm quite pleased with this top. Especially since I didn't really think it'd work well for me.

Oh also, don't forget that the pattern is drafted with 3/8" seams, not the usual 5/8". I had to tear out a couple seams when I forgot about this little fact. lol

I have to bragpoint out how well I managed to matched the front and back centre seams. But then I also have to confess that it was completely unintentional. I didn't want to fight with it and figured I wouldn't put any effort into matching the stripes, but then it worked out anyways. I told you, Fate.

Happy (belated) birthday Tanit-Isis! Thank you for sharing your pattern with us. The size L turned out quite well for me, and no, I didn't make any effort to adjust for a larger bust. There was some strangeness in the pattern under the arm, but it worked itself out once stitched up. This pattern went together really easily and quickly, and I'm looking forward to making this up as a dress. Maybe in black, or a textured charcoal grey.

It even works well layered under my new jacket. \o/


And speaking of free patterns, don't forget to go and sign up for my vintage pattern giveaway! The draw will be held on Tuesday, so you only have a couple more days to sign up!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Finished Object: Corduroy Jacket

It's done!! And I love approximately 90% of it. More on that later. I managed to get the lining sewn in, the hem stitched together, and the back of the buttonholes finished last night, mostly because of my goal to finish up this jacket for Friday Night Sew-In. All I had to do this morning was sew on the buttons and take a bunch of pictures. I met a friend for coffee this afternoon, and she complimented my jacket without me saying a word about it! \o/ More importantly, I love wearing it, so I call this a success.

Mabe and I went out to the front lawn and took a load of pictures. One cyclist nearly ran into a parked car because he was staring at us and not paying attention. I'll bet he was jealous of my pretty new fall jacket!

The lining mostly behaved, and the only real problem is that I forgot to tack it to the shell before stitching the opening where I flipped the jacket right-side-out. Ooops. It's holding together pretty good so far, so I may leave it. If it gives me trouble, I'll tack it along some seam lines from the outside.

The thing I'm most disappointed about is the hem. It's the reason I don't 110% love the results. I completely forgot to stabilized the hem, and because the length-wise direction is the direction of stretch, it's a very flimsy hem that's apt to stretch. You can see how it kinks right where the body of the jacket joins the faced front. The stiffness and heft of the facing is just too much for the lighter hem. It bothers me, to the point where I'm considering re-doing the hem. It'll be a giant pain in the rear, but I'll be happier with it. I might live with it for a bit, but look at what's happening in the back anyways:

The hem is dropping. You can see the pressed edge, and where it's drooping a bit. :( I originally ran a line of topstitching along the hem, but really didn't like the look and tore them out. So I'll probably use some hem fuser to help hold this hem up. Maybe that would be enough to stiffen the hem, too. Any suggestions?

Speaking of the hem, here's a note for those baffled by the hem instructions:
I had some trouble figuring out what the instructions meant for attaching the lining to the jacket along the hem. They way they explained it and showed in the instructions, it looked like the lining would line up with the bottom of the jacket, but then the next figure showed the shell fabric folded inside. I finally figured out that you're supposed to shift the lining fabric down to meet the shell fabric and stitch. However, this only works if you remember to chop 1 inch off of the bottom of the lining pieces, and only stitch to the circle mark where the lining attaches to the facing. The instructions mention the former, but only in passing, and I nearly forgot to do it myself. Also, I had to do some fancy hand-stitching where the facing meets the hem after I flipped everything right-side-out, because I forgot to stop stitching at the circle, and had to cut the lining out. Also, make sure you listen to the instructions when it suggests hand-basting about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the shell. This will be your folding line for the hem, and it's so much easier to do the hem with the markings.

I really liked the bound buttonholes, and my pretty crystal-bowl buttons!

Here's the back of the buttonholes. I followed one of the methods in RD-CGtS, which included cutting a slit the same length of the buttonhole, then gently tucking in the raw edges and hand-stitching the edges down. It was really simple.

Still love the collar! Obviously I need to pin fresh flowers to the lapel all the time. It's going to be hard to steal pretty flowers from peoples gardens once winter comes, though. :(

It's a fun jacket, and I loved wearing it already. It's pretty warm too! I was worried about the liner fabric, but it seems to hold body heat in well and keeps the wind from blowing straight through it. I need to line more things.

Anywho, me an my self-timered camera had some fun outside after we abandoned poor Mabe on the front lawn. No, I didn't leave her naked, I gave her my cardigan so she wouldn't be sitting out there in only my spare red bra. Here's a bunch of fun shots.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Finished Object: Lucky Business Dress

Best part of this dress? POCKETS!!!

As promised, here's a bit more information about the dress I wore to my interview earlier this week. It's from New Look 6803, and as soon as I saw the version that Stacie made, I knew I needed to make it. This version was supposed to be a wearable muslin, and while it is, I adore how it turned out.

I cut a size 16 (my standard size) despite everyone ever on PR warning that it runs a little big. I'm a bit wimp about doing FBA's, so I chose to just make a larger size. However, I have larger hips than this patterns size 16, but worried that 18 would be too big, I chose to cut a size 17 (aka right between 16 and 18) below the waist. I'm glad I did so, because the hips are almost too small as it is.

And really, that's my own stupid fault, because I know that I'm an 18 on the bottom for skirts and such, but didn't really think about the fact that dresses cover the top and bottom! Oops.

Boy was it ever windy out when I took these pictures!

The neckline is ways too big. You can't really see in the pictures, but it gapes a bit, and just looks too big on me, especially when I'm not wearing a cardigan with it. I think next time I`ll cut a size 14 on the top, and suck it up attempt an FBA.

I love the neckline. The pleats are a lovely detail, and were so easy to do!

Please forgive the public bathroom shot. This was hours after the interview, at my Uncle's birthday lunch.

I have no idea what this fabric is. I found about 3+ m of it at a thrift store (I know, everyone is so surprised about that) for about $6. Initially thinking it was some poly blend, I thought it'd make great muslin material. But it's got a soft hand and a gorgeous drape, can take a hot iron and steam like no-ones business, and crinkles like my Grandma's eyes when she smiles, so I suspect it's more like a linen blend, or something much more natural.

What I loved best about this dress was how the fabric, with its navy and cream threads weaved together, brought the dress from summery day dress, to something a bit more professional looking. Of course, it looks like a sack without a belt on, but with a belt it looks fantastic, and I like it best with a cardigan over top. I feel so professional in the entire outfit, hense why I chose to wear it to my interview.

Just as with the Mariana trench dress that I made for and wore to my thesis defense, it gave me a boost of confidence. And it paid off, because I got a call this afternoon with a job offer, so come this Wednesday, I will no longer be unemployed! \o/

Oh! And don't forget to go sign up for the vintage pattern giveaway!

Friday Night Sew-In aka Virtual Sewing Party!

Handmade by Heidi

So I've just heard of this Friday Night Sew-In (FNSI) hosted by Handmade by Heidi, when Debbie from Stitches and Seams mentioned it in her latest post. It's sort of a virtual get together, where you sign up and then lock yourself into your sewing room and sew like a fiend, then share your creations with the group through your blog and their Flickr group.

Which okay, is not much of a change from what I've been doing of late (yay unemployment), but I think will be fun anyways. So I'm signing up, and you should too! Click on the picture above for more information and the sign up form.

Maybe I'll get my jacket finished tonight!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corduroy Jacket - Construction and Details

I've been sewing up a storm lately, mostly focusing on my corduroy jacket. It's come a long way since you last saw it (and it's buttons), but I haven't had much chance to tell you about it.

It's starting to look like a real jacket!

Ages ago (or so it felt), I got the shell body constructed. I knew right away I was pleased with the fit. It tapers into the waistline, then flairs nicely at the hips. I'm still not pleased with the welt pocket lining showing through, but I'll probably stitch the edges of the pocket closed to help hold up the welt.

I adore the collar. They had you cut the under collar a bit smaller than the upper collar, so that when you sewed them together, the upper collar edges curled under a bit. This has lead to lovely shaping, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. The best part is it's held up to me scrunching it up while handstitching things, or being shoved into a bag for a trip to the fabric stores for buttons and liner and questions, so this bodes well for the future.

Had a heck of a time attaching the first sleeve. The first attempt was disastrous, with the sleeve rotated a bit to the back due to my shoddy notch lining skills. Tore that sucker out and tried again. This time it was a bit more successful, but then I realized that the shoulders were ways too wide for me. Tore that sucker out again and then hacked off about 1 inch from each armhole at the shoulder seam, grading down to the original armhole about half way down. Third time was mostly the charm, and despite some strangeness with the shoulder, I'm done futzing with it. As I mentioned here, I cut a size 18 for the sleeves, and graded to an 18 for the armhole. The sleeve is slightly too big, and it puffs a tiny bit at the back of the shoulder. Also, it looks slightly too big under the arm, so I suspect that I should've just left it at size 16. Oh well, next time.

The second sleeve set in decently in the first try, so I suppose it was worth the trouble with the first.

Looking at the top of the sleeve, the shoulder, and the upper chest, there were quite a lot of wrinkles, and the shoulders looked...limp. After much humming and hawing (and attempts to ignore the fashion atrocities I remember from my childhood), I decided to attempt shoulder pads. This is another technique I've never done, so along with welt pockets, I'm learning a lot with this jacket. I consulting my trusty Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (RD-CGtS), and learned another tailoring technique to accompany the shoulder pads: sleeve headings.

These things are a rectangle of lambs wool or fleece (I used slightly too thick polar fleece - but I think the fabric type depends on what you're main fabric is), sewn just under the seam below the shoulder pad, and helps support the sleeve cap where it attaches to the shoulder (the Sewing Divas discuss it here, although I used a straight heading). I found that the sleeve hung pretty limply from the shoulder when the pad was put in, and the wrinkles sort of ruined the look, but the sleeve heading makes it look much better. Below you can see the difference between one sleeve with shoulder pads and sleeve heading, and one without.

It looks so much better! I suppose that shoulder pads don't deserve the bad rep that the 80's and early 90's gave them. Well, within reason. Also, yes, that's a feather extension in my hair. Got it a month ago, and it's holding up great!

Here's a view of the shoulder pad and my first version of the sleeve head in place. RD-CGtS suggests folding over the fabric like this, but I found that the fleece was too thick, and eventually wound up reducing it to one layer, and clipping it to shape it a bit. I think it looks like my shoulders have a mustache and goatee, eh?

And then last night, despite arguing with myself and telling myself I wasn't going to do it, I decided that my new jacket really did need bound buttonholes. Talk about a skill building jacket.

Note my liquid courage.

Obviously I consulted the RD-CGtS, which gave me about 6 or 7 different methods for making bound buttonholes. I chose the one-piece folded method, which basically just involved taking a measured piece of fabric, folding the edges into the middle, and attempting to accurately sew it to your marked edges on the right side of the fabric, then doing the usual cutting the middle and clipping triangles at the corners, flipping the whole thing inside, sewing down the edges and stitching the lips closed, etc. I was...not so accurate sticking to my markings, but they turned out pretty well. As with the welt pockets, it wasn't nearly as hard or painful as I expected, although that could be because this book is just that awesome. Seriously, keep an eye out for it at your local used bookstore or thrift store (where I found my for a couple dollars), because it is THE best reference book I've found to date, and my reference library is a little ridiculously large.
Sorry for the crummy picture. They look rather horrible here, especially with the markings still evident and the lips sewn shut still, but they look pretty good in person. I'm pleased to have learned another new skill. So far, the count is at:
  1. Welt pockets
  2. Shoulder pads
  3. Sleeve head
  4. Bound buttonholes
OH, and one more thing:

5. French tack (to anchor down the sleeve lining)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thrifting Again

So while on the hunt for field work pants at the local thrift store, how does one resist buying...

...a red and black fish jersey knit for $2.99...

...a polka dot and flower striped cotton for $1.99...

...a pair of gorgeous brown (soon to be black) winter boots for $14.99 (original reduced sale ticket $69.99)...

...and these two patterns for $1.50?

Answer: You don't.

My sewing stuff is getting out of control. The graduation gift from my Grandma and Uncle isn't helping, but really, not complaining at all!

Thanks Grandma and Uncle Gavin!

Don't forget to sign up for the vintage pattern giveaway!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vintage Pattern Giveaway!

Giveaway closed. Results announced soon.

I'm terribly sorry for the delay. My interview went well (despite my usual awkwardness), and I looked pretty awesome in my new me-made dress! (Will talk about it in another post, promise.) I have tentatively high hopes.

But enough about that, it's time for a giveaway!

As I mentioned before, I found several 1950's and 60's era patterns while garage sale hunting last weekend, and couldn't pass them by despite being ways too small for me. They are all sizes 10 or 12, bust size 32 inches, waist 26 inches, hips 36 inches. I wish.

Instead of giving them all away to one person, I'm going to randomly draw (using an online random number generator) 5 lucky readers, who will each get a pattern or pattern set. The first person drawn will get first choice, the second person will get second choice, and so on.

Please leave a comment below with your email address (if not indicated in your profile), and a comment on whether you've sewn a vintage pattern before, and which of these are your favourites!

Choice 1: Butterick 4309

Description: Semi-fitted, slightly A-line dress with contrast or self bias shaped collar has squared, contrast or self yoke with button trim and pockets in side front seams. Sleeveless or short sleeves.

I couldn't find a year on this, but based on the style and the pattern price, I'd guess somewhere in the 1960's. Groovymama over at Burda Style showed off her version of this dress.

Choice 2: Butterick 8615 and McCall's 4312

Sleeveless Sabrina Blouses - Demurely buttoned and banded in front, this sleeveless top take a deep plunge in back. (A) Sissy front adds pretty frills. (B) Tailored version is smartly tucked and bowed. (C) Classic version is unadorned. Copyright 1958.
One Pattern Piece Skirt - "Instant" skirt. Paper pattern is all one piece; pin to fabric and cut complete skirt instantly. One yard skirt. Copyright 1957.

I decided to group these two because I accidentally purchased 2 similar skirts, and this was the more basic of the two. I thought the two patterns would look quite lovely together!

Choice 3: Butterick 5317

Description: Loose-fitting step-in A-line dress with contrast collar, banding and flap trim has concealed front zipper closing and short sleeves.

Once again, I couldn't find the year on this pattern, but I think even I can safely identify it as 1960's. :)

Choice 4: Butterick 8265

Description: Slender wrap-around skirt that buttons in the back. One pattern piece; no side seams. (A) Plain front. Takes only one yard of 54" width fabric. (B) Welt pocket version (slight additional yardage).
Note: Wish I had a blouse to pair with this one, but I figured the details of it made it an interesting stand-alone. I don't have an exact year, but I know it's 1950's.

Choice 5: Simplicity 6344

Description: Coat dress in two lengths. Double-breasted, princess dress with lowered front neckline, collar and lapels has set-in sleeves, braid trim and optional flaps and back buttoned belt. V.1 has below-elbow-length sleeves. V.'s 2 and 3 have short sleeves. V.'s 1 and 2 are below knee-length. V.3 is above knee-length. Copyright 1965.

Both this and the first choice were the reasons I needed to buy these and give them to you, because I adored them. This one in particular reminded me of my Mariana Trench Dress!

So once again, please leave a comment below with your email address (if not indicated in your profile), and a comment on whether you've sewn a vintage pattern before, and which of these are your favourites. This giveaway is open to everyone!

ETA: Aha, I knew I was forgetting something. I'll be making the draw Tuesday, September 20 in the evening (Central Standard time - Winnipeg Manitoba, if that helps you International folk).
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