Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paint Day!

My sewing day today was a complete bust. Seriously, nothing has gone right, so I made the executive decision to change Sewing Day to Paint Day.

I've been itching to work on my home decor anyways.

So I've been accumulating low-priced wood frames from thrift stores for a while now with the intention to do some sort of artwork for my living room walls. But I've been stalled on what to put in the frames.

Then Tanit-Isis wrote a post about the sudden increase in her lace collection, and between the pretties she shared and ElleC's comments on the post, I had an Inspiration!

These are my frames, all painted the same colour to make the different shapes more cohesive. Add fabric backing and some pretty lace, and voila! Instant (and inexpensive) artwork for my walls!

Never mind a chance to use some of the lace that I love and have no idea what to do with. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wooly Coat: Fabric and Cutting Woes

Okay, so I've basically spent the entire weekend cutting out fabric and investigating (aka stressing out about) interlining for my coat. I can see why coats are so time consuming. There's basically 4 different layers of fabric to be cut:
  1. Shell fabric
  2. Sew-in interfacing for the front panels, collar, and sleeve tabs
  3. Interlining (required here in the Canadian prairies)
  4. Lining
I got all of the interfacing and lining cut out, and 3 pieces out of 11 of the wool shell fabric. I've tried every pair of scissors I own, including a brand new pair, and the wool is winning the war. Just getting those three pieces cut out did this to my finger:

That sucker will blister by the morning, I know it. :(

Anyways, I'm stressed out about the interlining. As I mentioned here, our winters can be pretty brutal, and a warm coat is a must. But on the other side of the ice scraper, I hate being too hot. So I'm not sure what to do about the interlining here. Tanit-Isis has reminded me that I can't NOT have an interlining, but what do I go with? The wool I'm using is melton, which means a super tight and relatively thick fabric. The lining is also quite thick as it's a flannel-backed satin.

Option 1: Micro-fleece
I received a micro-fleece sheet set for Christmas this year, and my apartment is too hot to use them on my bed (see note about about my love of being hot), but the fabric is so thin and drapes nicely, and I figured that I could sacrifice the fitted sheet for the interlining. But now I'm afraid it'll be too hot, and the pouffy material makes the coat extra thick.

Option 2: Brushed Cotton
I ran down to the fabric store today to find buttons and some muslin for another project, and decided to pick up the brushed cotton above. I considered flannel, but everything was too stiff, and the wool is stiff enough on it's own. The fabric is thin, but I've had this material for pj's before and I know that they can be quite warm. I think it'd add another layer of warmth without being too bulky. But will it be warm enough?


So one feels like too much while the other feels like not enough. What do you think? Should I go with the more bulky and probably too warm fleece? Or go with the thinner brushed cotton?

And last but not you like my buttons?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cold Weather and Winter Coats (FNSI Report)

We've finally got hit with typical Canadian prairie winter weather the last week or so, with temps hovering around -30 C and colder (with the wind chill, and you always count the wind chill here). Unfortunately, between last winter and this winter I've somehow lost my winter coat, and have been getting by with a fall jacket and zippered hoodie (and lots of layers underneath). No, don't yell at me, I'm pretty acclimatized to the cold. It's only been the last few days of around -35C in the mornings that the cold has really bothered me.

I should go out to buy a winter coat, but I'm being stubborn. During the PR 10th Anniversary Celebration last November, I bought fabric to make a winter coat using Simplicity 2508 (similar to the version below), and paid a pretty penny for the lot. I refuse to go spend more on a winter coat when I've already dished out nearly $100 for this one (some assembly required).

But of course I've been working on everything BUT a winter coat.

I'm determined to make this up this week. During the Friday Night Sew-In last night, I forced myself to cut out and alter the actual pattern paper. Maybe not the most exciting sewing that was done during FNSI, but it forced me over a hurdle I've been avoiding for a while.

I'll keep you all updated on my progress on this coat. Knowing my luck and procrastination skills, it'll be spring before my coat is done.

Friday, January 20, 2012

All Tied Up in Grey

I love this cardigan. If I could get away with wearing it every single day, I would. Between the comfort and the style, I never ever want to take it off!

It's from McCall's 6408, a pattern I would've completely passed on by if not for Stacie from Stacie Thinks She Can. Seriously, it's getting ridiculous how much we keep copying enabling each other, and I don't see it ending anytime soon, especially considering that I've ordered a copy of Colette's Peony purely because of this. (And also maybe this, because I need a version in wool tweed, yes I do.)

But anyways, she made a gorgeous polka dot version here, and then offered the same fabric up in a giveaway (isn't she sweet?). I wanted her cardi as soon as I saw it (looks so much nicer than the envelope versions, that's for sure), and when I won the fabric (eeeee!!), I knew I'd have to copy emulate her. But then there were a few mailing issues, not the least of which was me giving the wrong address, and the fabric only just arrived this week.

Ahem, whoops. And like Stacie, I'm way too impatient to wait for the fabric to get here before I made this, so voila! Tied cardi in grey.

I've never had so many compliments on a something I've worn nor so many people asking where I bought the garment in my entire history of wearing clothes. My Mom, who hates most of the clothes I wear (and sometimes make), has ordered a version in black. I will add pockets to hers, and in my next one. Because there will be a next one. This cardigan is ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously easy to wear. No buttons, no zippers, no interfacing, just simple seams, and built in belt, and a bit of easing in sleeves.

Speaking of, these are probably the nicest sleeves I've ever eased. The medium-weight knit probably helped with that. This fabric was a dream to work with. Don't ask for details, I can't remember what it was, but it's the weight of yoga pants and holds its weight without stretching or losing shape. Was originally going to make sweat pants out of them, but this is so much better.

Of course, just because I found it easy to make doesn't mean I didn't have problems. I (stupidly) attached both ties to the inside of the cardigan. Instead of sandwiching the tie between the front and back piece on the side like I should've, I...well, you can see below. No, don't ask me why, I don't know.

Sorry for the dark photo. Yes, that's the tie sewn to the inside seam, hanging inside the garment and definitely not popping out on the right side of the garment through the side seam. Yes, I did it on both sides. I don't know.

Luckily it was easy to fix by spending some careful time with my seam ripper. Yank the stitches and zig-zag seam finish along the tie, stick the tie through the hole, and re-stitch the seam closed with the tie sandwiched properly through the seam.


A lot of the reviews on PR noted that the size fits big, and that the sleeves are wonky. Based on my measurements, I should've cut at least a large, probably an extra-large. Based on tissue measurements, especially across the back and shoulders, I cut size small. Yes, 3 sizes smaller. I wanted a fitted look through the top and drappy looseness at the bottom, not baggy all over. And I didn't want most of the back to be pulled around to the front like it shows on the envelope picture.

While I'm mostly pleased with the results, I should've given a bit more room in the back. There wasn't as much stretch in this knit as I was accounting for, and you can see how tight it looks from the back. HOWEVER in my defense, this picture was taken on my first day wearing it, and I've since learned to loosen up the ties a bit. This dispels the worse of the chub-hugging. I suspect that working with a stretchier knit would also help reduce this, but I'll add some more width along the centre of the back anyways, especially for a bit more bum room.

The only other thing I did was sew the sleeves at 1/4" instead of 5/8", since they were a little too snug. Could probably widen them a tiny bit more, even if I do like the snug sleeve.

Isn't the cream stitching on the grey fabric lovely? I made sure to topstitch where I could.

Oh, and just because they suggest using clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seam, doesn't mean you can't improvise with regular 1/8" elastic! This makes the shoulder seam gather a tiny bit when unworn, but sits nicely when wearing it. Which is a bit of a shame, actually, because the light gathers on the shoulder are pretty (see photo of set in sleeve above). Will have to remember that.

Thanks Stacie for making me notice this pattern! I think I may need a polka dot version of it, and then we'll just have to be Spotted Cardi Twins.

But I guess I should make my Mom's first.

If I have to.

I guess.


P.S. Look what else Stacie included in my wandering fabric package! I love lace, I do. Thanks!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Treasure Hunting Yarrr!

I'm sorry dear readers, I've been rather quiet of late. It's not that I haven't been sewing (boy have I been sewing) or that I don't have anything to say (scads of potential posts dance in my head). It's just that I've had no desire to write any of it down. I've been in a bit of a funk lately, and that means I haven't really wanted to share much of myself.

Now that I realize this, I'm going to work on beating it. I'll try to make it up to you with all the posts that's been dancing in my head. They really need to be evicted.

The post ideas started off slow, gentle. Lovely to consider, but easy to put aside for another day.

But then they became this:

A little bit harder to ignore.

So in an attempt to ease my way into this again, I'm going to share the results of my adventures last week and weekend! Not strictly related to sewing, but tangentially related. That counts, right?

Of course it does!

So, a bit of back story. When I moved into my place, I bought this couch:

Ugly, eh? I thought it was ugly in a lovely way, but within a couple days I couldn't lie to myself any more: it was just plain ugly. I couldn't do anything with it! How could I make fun and lovely pillows when they'd go on that monstrosity?! So the couch had to go.

Last week, I found this gem on kijiji, and after a thorough check over, bribing a helper with a truck, and a steam cleaning, it's replaced my monstrosity. SO MUCH BETTER and so much more comfortable! And the best part is I can make funky pillows for it now! (The crochet owl pillow came with the couch. BONUS!)

See, tangentially related to sewing!

So now that I've got some living room furniture I'm not utterly ashamed of, I want to start finding some art for my walls. And since I've been cruising past the Mulvey Flea Market twice a day, every single day on my way to and from work and it's only a 20 minute walk from my place, I decided that Saturday was going to be TREASURE HUNTING DAY!

And boy what treasures were there to be found!

I got these two framed pictures for my sewing nook area (sorry for the crummy quality pictures), because who can resist Victorian ruffly dresses? Got the pair for $40, which I think is a pretty good deal, considering the crap I've been seeing at the stores lately for a lot more than that.

Now if I could just find the hardware to my cork board and hang the thing up, my sewing nook will start looking quite respectable. (Although I really need to tidy up and do something with that chair. A bit of paint and new fabric maybe?)

Then I found this art deco-y nouveau (thanks Fuss!) mirror, which is looking lovely on my living room window sill. I paid $20 for it, which is maybe a little steep, but I fell in love immediately and even managed to haggle the seller down a bit (I'm pants at haggling).

Seriously, I love the woman peeping into the mirror. This is something that's staying with me for a loooong time!

And finally, I found an oval mirror for my entry way, because I'm sick of stomping across my living room with my boots on to see if my scarf and hat are on decently straight. Plus it reminded me of one my Great Aunt had that I adored. $15, thank you very much.

Top it off with a hot cuppa coffee at my new favourite local independent coffee shop and a bowl of homemade potato dill soup, and I call the day a success!

Next actual sewing project! Remember, keep your eyes peeled for treasure, in whatever form you find it in. :)

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