Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mojo Shopping

I've lost my sewing mojo - it's probably somewhere under the overwhelming mass of patterns - so I've been stashing.  I think I'm hoping something will snag at me and I'll be a sewing fool again. 

This is Amy Butler's new Sophia carry-all and some of her heavier weight cotton.  I'm excited about the challenge of making a professional handbag.  So many handbag patterns are so very homemade and they have their place.  But I've always enjoyed the kind of patterns that Vogue puts out.

I've also been drooling over this Japanese quilt and craft book, featuring Kaffe Fassett's fabrics.  It has a few quilts, slippers, coasters, decorations and such, all delightfully Japanese.

Look at this piece of loveliness:

If you're familiar with the books by Kumiko Sudo, this has the same gentleness and fun to it.  If you're not familiar with Sudo, her "Omiyage" books is lovely, with lots of beautiful small pieces, like flower purses, little fabric boxes, decorations and such.  They require some skill to make well but are very eye-catching.

I buy my Japanese magazines from this ebay seller.  She's fast, packages beautifully and the prices are good.  The shipping is free too and it takes about 7-10 days to get to me in Colorado.  I bought the latest Mrs. Stylebook also, although more for inspiration.  I'm too tentative about my drafting skills.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Little Miss NoJo Knits a Hat!

Finally, a Finished Object:

Pattern:  Center Square from Knitty
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease (doubled)
Size: Humongous, 'cause swatching is for losers!!

This is an adult sized hat, but my son is just more gorgeous than me.

I've been itching to do some fair isle knitting.  My first attempt, Nordic style wrist warmers, didn't come out too well.   Even though I spread my stitches when changing colors, I still had some pulling  in a few areas.

So I tried a bigger gauge and I did much better.  This hat is a great practice piece.  The double stranding in the fair isle makes it really warm and it took me only a couple of hours to make.   It would be a fun gift.

It's also the perfect project to break my run of dithering and goof ups.  I think I have my mojo back.

I have too many UFO's lying about, both sewing and knitting.  I generally can't start up any new projects when there are too many other ones left abandoned, but then I get snitty about finishing up the ones that are getting in the way.  I've crafted myself into a corner.  But one FO really gets me motivated.

In knitting, I'm almost done with my Central Park Hoodie and then I'll finish up Connor's cardigan.  Which will leave me free to stop buying yarn and knit some goodies up.

In sewing, oyyy!  I have three pieces undone; two of them unloved, the third a coat for Connor.  The coat is easy and if I finish that, I can think clearly about the other two - whether to pitch them or finish them.

Motivation.  I need motivation.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My Own Private Azkahban

Two weeks dreading, two weeks visiting, two weeks unravelling - that's the cost of visiting my parents. I'm not sure how after 37 years, time alone with them can still cause such despair, but it does.

Anyway, I've spent the last two weeks eating chocolate and compulsively shopping, so all is well again. Enough grumping!

And, I'm sewing again. Something simple, but pretty, a last hurrah for the end of summer:
The dress is the designer exclusive from Burda's 06/2007 issue, #139, and the fabric is an Alexander Henry print, "Pink Bird Seed":

It' s a little hefty for the pattern, which is for batiste (lightweight cotton), but it's such a happy print, I couldn't resist. It's my second time making clothes from quilting cotton, the first being a wrap A-line skirt. Honestly it feels odd - I'm neither in my 20's, nor have a kooky sense of style, so I don't know if I can pull it off.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2 Burda Dresses & TTFN

Burda 5/07 - 123 Dress

This is one of the sleeper dresses from the May issue. It's a simple pattern for wovens, with gathering on the center front bust, side seam bust and along the side fronts, below the shoulders. I opted to use a buttermilk, which made it all so much easier and quicker.

The fit is fantastic, it looks stunning and it's very boob enhancing. At under 2 yds of fabric, I'll be making this pattern again and again for sweet little dresses.

Size: 44
Fabric: Buttermilk from Gorgeous Things
Mods: Added a small scootch on the side seams at the bust.

(Bodice details:)

Burda 4/07 - 127 Dress

I haven't worn anything so 'precious' since I was 9 or so, but, hey it's red and has 'loves', as my little guy calls them.

This is another summer dress than I almost overlooked. It's for sheer wovens, with a shoulder yoke, shaped dropped waistline, bias cut skirt and small ruffles along the neckline and yoke. I was going to describe the neckline as rather modest on this, but given I lived on a topless beach for a year, I may be a little skewed.

Size: 44
Fabric: Heart shaped red borderie from Gorgeous Things, lined with batiste (dyed red with Rit).
Mods: Lowered the bust dart and added a scootch on the side seam bust. I should have done a proper FBA, but I was in a rush. I also added vertical bust-waist darts after the dress was completed to nip in the front waist more.
Verdict: This is a very feminine summer dress and a lot of fun to wear. The ruffles can be omitted, but I found they're rather low-key on this fabric. I'm really enjoying wearing this, although it might be too bright for dear old London.

(Ruffle detail:)


I'm off to London to visit my parents for two weeks, with a side trip to Paris, to eat crepes with Connor. Given the exchange rate, I'd have to be foolish to buy anything, but the sight seeing is more fun.

Have a lovely summer y'all.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Burda July '07 - 115 Pencil Skirt

Cute, huh? After so many experiments, it's relaxing to make something that I *know* will work on my body. This is a tapered (pencil) skirt, with pockets, panelled back and a surprise in the back.

I wouldn't usually wear a top tucked in, but I wanted to show how high the waist comes on this skirt.

Size: 46
Fabric: Pant-weight cotton/lycra twill from Fabric.com.
  1. Added 0.5" to length at the hem.
  2. Used waistband instead of waist facing. I typically need to tighten up the waistline on clothes. I stretched out the waistband during stitching to pull the fabric waist in.
  3. Made a turned up hem instead of fringing it as in the original.
  4. The skirt has large pockets. These would bulge out because of my large belly, so I faked them. I cut a facing for the pocket opening, sewed and turned. Then I cut a modified pocket piece that didn't include the extra fabric needed for an actual pocket. I topstitched the faced opening onto the pocket itself:
The wrong side:

Finished pocket from the right side:

Surprise: This isn't shown online, but the back has three panels and the center panel is gathered at around the back of the knee. This has two effects: first, it accentuates the pencil silhouette; and, second, it cups the tushy. In fact, it makes my tush look a lot more wonderous than it is. I can't get a picture of it on me, and sorry for the wrinklies, but this is the back:

The Cons:
  1. Because of the high waist, you need to fit the waist very well. I could have done better fitting for my sway back, but it gets hidden by my tops.
  2. The side seams are to the front on this skirt, and I'm not sure if it's intentional or not. Given the pocket style, I think it's poor drafting. I've never had this problem on a size 46 before. So sew-er, beware.

I did finish this in July, which makes for two patterns from the issue in the current month. Yay for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Norah Gaughan - Jatta Bag

Felted knitting always struck as me as a willful pursuit of destruction. Now, I get it. It is such a rush to stick a piece of knitting in hot water and squeeze the life out of it. Look what happens:

Before, 21" x 13"

After, 14" x 7"

The fabric has become spongy and heavy, it's all really quite beautiful.

Yarn substituted with Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran. I didn't swatch and mine is bigger than the design specs.
I backstitched the two pieces RS together.
When it came to the bottom stair stepped shape, I just stitched on a curve, to make a more pleasing line.

The pattern is sewn WS together and I don't know how you would deal with the square step corners or if they would "disappear" during felting.

Next, I'm going to try a different felting technique on it. Inspired by this lovely Japanese felting book/magazine:

I'm going to needle punch circles along the bottom, as in the cover picture. And then, line it and find handles.

This is the original by Ms. Gaughan:

I have a serious knitting crush on her. You know how some designers just move you with their work? Her work has re-oriented my perspective on knitted fabric.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Burda July '07 - 122 Butterfly Top

What do you think? Behemoth or whale?

This is the Burda's pattern from this month's issue. The top size is 42/44 and I fit in the upper range of 44.

The original has lovely shirring along the midriff, front and back, and is cut to about the waist. It would look beautiful on a slimmer or less wobbly midriff, but on me, the shirred section would just slide up to the narrower part of my bodice, below the breasts. Also, without the shirring, the midriff is pretty close in measurement to mine, making shirring essentially pointless on me.

I left the midriff longer than in the original and experimented belting the waist, to effect a soft blouson style. In the mirror, it didn't look too bad, a little blousy maybe. But DH told very kindly suggested that I may not want to look 'bigger'. Hee hee.

He's right, though! In the pictures I can see it makes me look matronly and huge. And in the trash it went.

The fabric was some Anna Sui satin striped chiffon from Fabricmart - pricey but unloved.

At least I'm on goal with sewing up a Burda pattern from each current issue. I have the skirt 115 from July's issue under way right now, in a green stretch twill. I think that'll work out much better on my body type.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

HP7 - Done

Maybe I should go and talk to my kid now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Fair!

My hi-tech paean to moderation:

After stuffing a closet for the past week:

That's pretty much all the fabric. I have about 100lbs that need, uh, re-distribution. I'm taking as much of the good stuff as I can to my Mom in London later this year. She can take it back to to family even later this year. Fabric in the Mid East can be very expensive and most people go to see tailors or make their own.

There's a yarn hanger to the right of this picture, with more yarn in a corner cabinet and drawers. I'm tempted to pass on the non-loved stuff there too.

And the patterns - aye!! They're still in the basement. I'm probably going to ditch most of the butterick/mccalls/simplicity/new looks. I really prefer burda, with patrones and vogue as back ups. Sheesh.

I'm exhausted, but I feel *lighter*. I'm also losing weight - hopefully all this is signaling a much needed psychological shift.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So you think cats are trouble!

He filched three skeins of silk/alpaca. Sheesh!

Happy 4th July!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lazy Summer

I just can't find the energy to do anything new. It is hot, hot, hot! So I've been puttering around, unpacking my fabirc to go into the sewing room closet. With every box I lug upstairs from the basement, I feel virtuous. With every box I unpack, I feel overwhelmed. There really is too much and most of it, I love. I'll see how that ends up.

Everything else is going backwards, but in good ways.

Skirt that didn't work into a couple of retro aprons:

Scarf that didn't work into 3 beautiful skeins of Rowan kidsilk haze:

And look at my 'care package' from London: Patrones and fresh Himalayan saffron. Heavenly:

And on a proud-yet-whiny note, how come he can grow a garden in his sandbox and I can't grow *$&^ ?

Burda June '06 - 120 Top

It's been a very long time since I made a Burda pattern in the same month that the magazine was issued. In fact I made two!

This is a pattern for a sleeveless bias (or not) top, with pleated neckline and long neckties.

I cut a size 44 and did an FBA on the front, slashing vertically through the bust point to add width - and - horizontally to add length. I rotated the darts to the three pleats, slashing and spreading them.

The fabric is a squirrelly, lovely tencel herringbone weave, that got even more squirrelly on the bias.

I used fusible interfacing on the front facings and the collar/ties. The armscye binding, the hem and the ties are all hand stitched, which was a lot faster than struggling to topstitch the fabric. To stabilise the buttonhole area before machining, I hand basted a rectangle, to help keep the bias face fabric anchored to its fused (stable) facing:

Hint - When I'm going to be machining over basting stitches, I'll use silk thread for basting. It's a lot easier to pull out and less likely to split and leave fibers in the stitches.

Mid sewing I tried this on and the weight of the fabric, on the bias, had pulled the bodice down, to the point where I was completely hanging out. So I took up the shoulders by 0.5" front and back. Otherwise, the fit is pretty good, although I had to take out 1.5" from the lower front side seams.

This is so comfortable to wear and very cool in the heat, but the three pleats along the neckline are too obvious for me. They just beg for attention, especially because of the qualities of the tencel. It looks to my eye like too much detail, what with the pleats, the ties, the collar.... So I won't be making it again.

I also made these pants - 126:

I made a muslin and had it fitted by my teacher. It needed very little attention, just some more crotch room at the inseam. The above pair is from a rough linen, which bags out really badly. My third (full length) pair are from a navy linen/rayon, so I think I'll line them to the knee. My plan is to get 2-3 pants from this pattern until I lose enough weight to cut out a new one.

Burda: Love!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Estes Wool Market

There were the mountains. There were furry, sofffft, goofy looking critters,

lots of them, in different sizes;

fun things to try: now my son knows how to weave, (I don't);

and a modest numbers of yarn stalls. This was my loot for about $140. Worsted wool/mohair/silk in black, kid mohair in red and alpaca in darkest walnut:

They're all soft and luscious and going straight into stash until I can figure out what to knit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


What can I say? I have a 4 year old.

Grrr face cloth from the latest knitty. I made mine with less than half a ball of Lily's Sugar'n Cream. I think it took all of an hour.

I did do mine quite differently. I used an easier loop stitch from knittinghelp.com. (Find the video here under decorative stitches.) Also I just purled on the WS rows. I knit Eastern/Combination style and stocking stitch comes easier. It gave a nice nobbly texture on the back.

It's being test driven in a bubble bath right now.

Onto Sewing:

I've cut out Burda 6/07, bias top 120 and am half way through it. This is my fabric, a very drapey, squirrelly tencel rayon blend. Pretty stuff.

Because it's a little heavy, however, it's dragging down on the bias and has brought the center front V neck towards the bottom of my bra band. So I have take up the shoulder seams and re-sew the neckband seams. All of this is easy, but I'm finding knitted lions just a touch easier.

I wish I was more driven!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

How To: Finish the Neckline on a Sleeveless Lined Top

This method works just as well for sleeveless top with lining or with combination facing (neckline and armscye combined). The seams have to be cut accurately or you should be able to fudge creatively!

Sorry about the tiny writing, this is my first HOW TO. If you click on the picture, it opens up to full size.

1. The side seams are sewn separately in the fashion fabric and lining. They are placed RS facing, matching armscye and neckline seams.

2. Machine the armscye seam all the way around. Machine the neckline seam (front and back) to 2-3" shy of the shoulder seam line.

3. Trim the seams, understitch if preferred, press and turn right side out.

4. Opening up the shoulder, match front shoulder to back shoulder, right sides together. Make sure the armscye seam line lines up perfectly. Pin or baste. Machine the shoulder seam.

5. Trim the shoulder seam and press. Turn right side out. Turn in the neckline seam allowance and slip stitch the seam together.

It's a good idea to practice the slip stitch. It should be indistinguishable from a machined seam.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Patrones 02/2007 - Cacharel Top

This is the first piece I've actually made for the PR SWAP competition. It's from the February 2007 Patrones and is a Cacharel design. (I had no idea they made anything other than gorgeous lingerie.) The top has very narrow shoulders and a gathered neckline with a ruffle along the front neckline only.

Size: I cut a 48 with no adjustments - this seems to be the equivalent of size 44/46 in burda which I use these days.

Fabric: Burnout cotton voile from India. I originally made this into a maternity dress, which never got worn. This top is from the skirt (same lining) and the ruffle is from the waist ties on the dress. I didn't even have to hem it.

  1. None for size.
  2. The line drawings in Patrones seem like wishful thinking at times: the armscye is very low, but in the line drawing it looks high and tight. Always look at the pattern layout illustration - those pictures are much more representative of the pattern. Anyway, I made a quick muslin to confirm my suspicion. The shoulders on this are also really narrow - too narrow to cover my bra straps. So I added 1.5" all along the armscye, front and back. Almost perfect. Just over 1" would have been better.
  3. I don't read Spanish - heck I don't read instructions (must be my testosterone-y side busting out), so I gathered the neckline to look flattering and gathered the ruffle to look pretty (to me) and hand sewed it on. This way I can take if off if I change my mind.

It's perfect for summer and fall.

Original Design:

Fanciful line drawing:

Vogue 8249 - Top

Holding that dang grin until the self-timer goes off is not part of my skill set.

This is version A of Vogue 8249.

Fabric: green burnout cotton from my local independent fabric store.
Size: 14 with an FBA
  1. I added length and width in the front at the bust point, feeding the excess into the gathers at the yoke.
  2. Collar opening: to put in the yoke section, I sewed the right side yoke (interfaced with organza) to the front bodice, turned, trimmed and pressed. Then I basted the yoke facing to the yoke along the marked lines, sewed part way down the center front, stopping about 3" from the point of the V. I cut down between the machined lines only and tried on the top to see where the point of the V would be most flattering on me. (I wiggled a pin into the collar to make sure the center of my bra would be covered.) My low point is actually 1" higher than the design.
  3. I lengthened the top by 2".
  4. I hand finished the yoke facing, hems and armhole binding. The very fine fabric is worth the effort.
Full bust adjustment:

Raised point of V in the yoke: