Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gratifying sewing - V1179 part deux

After patchwork sewing for days on end I was super ready to sew clothes for me! Didn't want to mess with having to make muslin, I settled on V1179, a pattern I made before. It did took me the 3rd day to finish it though. Didn't do anything on the second day coz being hogged by the little Bean and was too tired. Sure glad to be able to work on it a lot yesterday.

I use my stash of black ponte de roma knit (still have probably 5-6 yards left! no problem,i have a lot of patterns to try and a girl needs lots of black outfits.. at least this one does since she (moi) is building her own handmade wardrobe from scratch...). I added a long tapered sleeves, and made sure that the inside is as neat as the outside as possible. A lot of topstitching. .

I also made the cowl collar thicker, i like the snood look. Also, i stitched down the pleat at the chest a little, i think I read that this was what Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic did too? My first version i just basted and let em out as per pattern instruction/picture on packet, and i liked the look, decided to try stitching for this one, and liked it too.

Haven't worn it yet, so here's photo of it on hanger:

This V1179 is definitely a pattern that I can make more and more of! However, for the sake of learning, i will attempt other shapes... :) Another dress or 2 i think. After all it's the holiday season,hehehe...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Choo-choo pyjama set

It's been awhile since my last post. In fact, my last post was not a real post, just a couple of pictures. I've been meaning to write more on the dress from the last post, about my Sew Cute Dress class (from which the dress was the product of), and a little about the necklace I made. But I've been super busy to get my son's pyjama done, so that I can then get on my with the planning of my "business". Since this is a space I dedicated to feature my hobby in sewing (DIY/crafting) I will just proceed with sharing the pyjama project.

Before and after my miracle son is born, I only bought very few baby clothes for him. He has enough, but eventhough he is my first (and perhaps only?) child, i did not go crazy with buying him cute clothes :) Having a baby is already a very expensive affair, and he did and still does need a lot of other stuff that cost a lot of money: carseat, stroller, baby carrier, baby bag, toys, and whatnots.

During my maternity leave, I made him a carseat cover (that was probably my very first project on the sewing machine - i used to sew everything by hand before). I also started on a patchwork quilt for him. the patchworked quilt top was done quickly enough, but has been put aside for a long time in place for all the other projects that's more fun. I plan to make it into a toddler bed sized/ single bed size quilt, so I do have time yet. Haha.

Anyways, back to clothes. Basically he has outgrown many of the clothes i bought him. I picked out one or 2 whenever we go thrifting, but my plan is to refashion things into clothes for him. So far I made him a winter hat, a t-shirt for sleeping. I have nice men's tshirts that I intend to remake to fit him, which I haven't done since I'm still testing patterns (excuses).

In the spirit of testing pattern, I made him (probably the day after we came back from Thanksgiving trip in Minnesota, and it took 2 days) a set of pyjama (top comes from this book while the pyjama bottom was from this pattern-link will be added later)

Raw-edged raglan top:

I made size 2/3 and it fits the Bean perfectly over his chubby baby tummy :) and he loves the train so much made my day. :)

The knit material is thrifted, and the train applique was made using scraps from last year's Charlie bag and also rice bag heat therapy project for my in-laws, also thrifted material.

Top and bottom:

The pants I made size 2, but I shorten it by 3 inches from the pattern, and still made the hem? bigger. It is still a bit long but ok for the Bean. The elastic was also a lil loose on him. Maybe it's my fault? He is wearing size 18 mths for knit pants (RTW) and they are kinda snug. Maybe I read the pattern wrong? I thought that size 2 means for toddlers 2 years old size....hmmm... I think the pattern is McCall's, but will confirm later.

All in all, they look super cute on him and I'm satisfied. I will make more for him in the future. Not sure when. My plan is to sew me a dress (either a black ponte knit dress to showcase the lapiz lazuli necklace I made, or sew up my yellow wool knit fabric) once im done with 2 of my business related project. That's my plan anyways, to have breaks in between work, so that I can continue with my learning. And of course, I've been wearing my handmade things so much that they are looking worn. :(

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A dress and a necklace

Over the Thanksgiving break I was able to finish my I am Tiny Tuck dress from the I am Cute Dresses book. Not able to write long today, but here are the pictures of the dress:

I also made a necklace out of semi precious stones (lapiz lazuli and white stones I don't know the name of) and silver:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy thanksgiving, happy holidays!

We will be visiting family up north and am so looking forward to eating all the yummy Thanksgiving food.

I am still working on the dress (handsewing the hem right now and then some pearl beads to the neckline or somewhere around there) from my Sew Cute Dresses class. With some luck I will be able to post on that soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Leopard tote bag

It's finally done! Yay!!!

Some synthetic leopard print fabric "harvested" from a thrifted vest-and-bermuda shorts set

Leather scraps from a gifted thrifted long black leather coat
Thick interfacing

Based on Bag F of McCall's Fashion Accessories (Laura Ashley) M4400

Alteration/modification to the pattern:
I wanted a leopard tote bag like the one I saw on Boden's catalog, so I made some modifications on the pattern.

Firstly, I added if I'm not mistaken horizontally: 4 inches to the middle of the bag, 1 inch each to the sides, vertically: 4 inches to the middle, and 1 inch to the bottom.

I also added length to the straps. I top-stitched leather (same material as the applique at the base) onto the strap, this is also modification from the pattern. Instead of setting the straps inside the seam, I sew them onto the body of the bag, like the inspiration photo above, and sew scraps of leather onto it to cover the stitches that attached the straps to bag, and also as and added design element.

Since my last post re the bag, I've made another little change to the pattern: eliminate the facing portion (that also holds drawstring for the bag) because my upsize of the pattern rendered that portion to be too small. But no biggie. Without the facing, the tote bag now is more true to the inspiration picture, although I also added a button (it's a leather covered button, and came from the same coat that I "harvest" the leather for strap and appliques on the base).

The bag is 15.5" tall, 17" wide and 6" thick. I used a thick interfacing, but it's not stiff. It's tough when sewing multiple layers, and sometimes this cause the stitches to skip :(.

I love my leopard bag! It's huge! And I'm so glad that it's finally done!


Recycled Fashion


Now I can move on to other projects. But first I have to finish my Sew Cute Dresses class project. I didn't last night at the class, I'm very slow like that. I'm making Dress #11, I am Tiny Tucks. I think I'm going to make adjustments to what I've already done, snip** snip**. When I'm done, will have to go back to the workshop to show my lovely teacher. So I better get going!

I Pledge, too

I, far, am taking the #seamlesspledge until 05/31/2012.

I'm joining the Seamless Pledge and hope that I will be able to amp up my sewing. Or else, I'll be wearing the same few items I've made/refashioned so far - which is truth be told what I've been doing the past couple of months. I'm getting bored of them!

Totally can see myself not shopping for newly manufactured clothes, I haven't since May 2011 shopping spree, but let's see if I can last til May 2012.

The rules

  1. No buying new clothes for the duration of your pledge. By new, I mean any new mass-manufactured clothes.
  2. You can buy second-hand manufactured clothes – so be prepared to get to know your local charity shops awfully well.
  3. Vintage clothing is a-ok!
  4. Anything you’ve made by hand is definitely allowed. Get your sewing machines and your kntting needles out, because handmade is definitely in!
  5. Get involved! Join in on the Flickr group and like our Facebook page. I’ll be looking to feature pledgers on the blog in the future. I’d love to see your second-hand finds, refashions and hand-made creations!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I've been working on...


I found this vest-and-"bermuda shorts" set at my favorite local thrift store a year ago. Must have been someone's previous year's Halloween costume, or something like that. I can't imagine anyone wanting to wear this otherwise, and most definitely not both at the same time :) But to each their own. I got them for a quarter each, and they had been languishing in my to be refashioned pile ever since.

I definitely see that they are made of synthetic fabric, and and on the printed side have this smooth shiny a little furry like feel to the fabric.

Saw this tote bag on the Boden catalog, and it's been the inspiration of this project:

Now, just have to finish it!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Last week recap

I have been working on and off on my leopard print tote bag (yet another refashion project). I'm using a pattern as my base point, but had to make it wayyy bigger and other adjustment to my requirement. Since I rarely follow patterns to a T, it's taking me longer that I anticipated. I have a lot of dress patterns that I want to work on, and put my refashioning project on hold. Maybe after this bag... I'm using a thick (but still foldable and so on) interfacing for the bag (I asked a fellow shopper at the local Joann's which ones I should get). That adds to the difficulty...


Last week we woke up to snow (Thursday, I think). It's funny watching the little Bean looking out the sliding door at the falling snow. Last winter he was too young to appreciate it. In fact, each time we took him out of the apartment he will be sleeping cosily in his carseat. :) It will be interesting this year when Midwest winter comes full force and it's white out there.


Today and Tuesday will be my Sew Cute Dress workshop. I still haven't decided which dress to make! Initially I wanted to bring my own fabric and supplies, but I realized that the workshop space provides the machine and so on, and they make business also from selling fabrics etc. I will just call in this morning to make sure they still have me on list of participants (hehe) and purchase the materials there during class. At least I already have my book though...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sewing Books galore

The books I ordered off Amazon have just arrived. I just managed to leaf through them quickly because the Bean was fighting/climbing all over me for them, but they are super super lovely, from the pictures to the instructions, so I can see myself benefiting a lot from them :)

They are:
1) The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress by Sarai Mitnick
2) The Burdastyle Sewing Handbook
3) I am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew by Sato Watanabe
4) Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe by Shelly Figueroa & Karen LePage

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Teal Silk Tie Front top

I had this silk teal shirt/blouse for a while now. I think I got it at Goodwill for $0.25. I love the color and the print and that it is silk :), and that I am going to make something out of it.

I decided to make a tie front top, and will need all the silk for the ties and binding so I bought a coordinating color top to be the back. I found this linen blouse (the color in this photo is too bright) at Goodwill last week (while working on this project). It is heavier than the silk (rookie mistake), but you live and learn, eh. :) The inspiration for this project was actually a tank top I bought from Banana Republic. It's a simple silk front with jersey/light knit back.

I used the silk fabric to bind the armhole, and also to finish the side seams inside. :) It's pretty neat.

And hand stitch the inside of the armhole binding (and also the collar tie's inside).

I lurve tie front blouses! :) I still have to do better about fit though... So far it's been hit and miss... For this one, it's very roomy around the back and armhole (I don't mind that it's roomy on the front). Maybe I will feel better if the back fabric is as light as the silk? I will keep on experimenting...

Linked to
Recycled Fashion

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Slowly but surely

8 a.m. and I'm still working on my teal silk shirt refashion (into tie front blouse)... If I'm lucky, I'll be able to wear it when we head out today :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I was searching online for a local sewing workshop/lesson yesterday afternoon and found one. It's surreal because I've been looking for a long time...

I started looking about 2 years ago - I Google-d for such a class and the only ones I found are at the local community college and a one-on-one by the hour lesson with a local seamstress. I registered with the college for a class, but they canceled on me a few days before the class due to low registration/instructor pulling out and at the time can't even say when the program will be back (they never call me to confirm anything, so they lost me).

I ruled out the one-on-one at the time because 1) as a "recent" immigrant and in need of female companionship I felt that I would like to be surrounded by like minded people/peers, learning a new skill, and get to know the locals; 2) I need to know somebody at some level before entering into a teacher-student relationship; and 3) I didn't even know how to thread a machine at that time, not to mention having a little fear of them, so I imagined I would need many many many hours of lessons, and that will be too expensive - especially when I don't know if I am going to like/feel comfortable with the teacher or not.

So imagine my elation when I found the place in town, offering exactly what I wanted all these while - a sewing & craft supply shop, with food and drinks thrown in, workshop space and community (it's a dream environment for me because in my previous life, pre-marriage, back when I was working in a peace group, I wanted to open such a space, minus the sewing & craft supply part).

If I'm not mistaken, this shop/workshop has been in business since 2008, but they just got a new website, and that's how I found them yesterday (I do live a very internet driven life). They are offering a lot of knitting and crocheting classes, there's screen painting also and crafting. But there's one workshop that really suits my want, and that is to learn to sew one of 3 choices of dresses from the book Sew Cute Dress (It's a Japanese pattern book that I saw alot online other than Pattern Magic of course. Reviews mentioned that the dresses mostly have similar boxy silhouette with slight variations, but I am a beginner sewing enthusiast with a postpartum middle section (still), it's a given that everything I sew are boxy!) I chatted with my husband about it (he was at work), showed him the link, I picked up the phone and registered for the class! It will be over 2 days, 6 - 8 pm, in the middle of November :)


Sometimes when I get too excited for something, it might not turn out the way I wanted it to be. Let's not pin all my hopes and dreams that attending this one workshop will be the answer to my prayers, that I will immediately, after almost 3 years of moving here, feel more at "home". Working full time, and then half-time didn't do it for me, did it? I think I'm the most pragmatic person I know. I know I'm only in the middle of my adjustment period curve. So, I will go with an open mind. I have a lot to learn!


This week I'm a bit ambitious. I have 3 projects that I plan to complete: a blouse/top, a bag and little Bean's pyjama bottom. I might need to make a muslin first for the blouse. It is a teal colored silk (abstract print), and I want it flowy on the front. For the bag and pyjama bottom, the patterns for them just arrived yesterday (no, I don't have patterns for those already in my huge stash, hehehehe).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend DIY - Thread holder

No sewing done this weekend, but I did spend a lot of time staring at my fabric stash trying to decide what to do next. I have been on a crazy sleeping pattern since becoming a SAHM - a lot of being awake all night long to sew in my euphoria of being able to (That means a lot of napping with the baby. Which is not so bad, but sometimes the Bean jump up and down on me when he wakes up and I'm still snoozing. Not so good). But I am happy to say that I am getting into a better sleeping pattern. Hopefully this will last.

So I woke up fresh and eager at 5 am yesterday (Sunday), and while my 2 babies sleep on, I worked on making my thread holder. I've wanted and needed one for a long time. But not about to spend $30+ buying brand new. My weekly visit to my favorite thrift shop did not produce any - they do have one but its for display and not for sale. However, on Saturday I saw a thick polystyrene square there selling for $0.25, so that was what I got to finally make me one (inspiration were a mishmash of tutorials online, but i did not follow one per se).

I used:
The polystyrene
cardboard box
upholstery fabric, scrap from cushion project
bamboo sticks

Need at least one more!

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

2 sweater dresses

Ok. I've completed my 2nd sweater dress (refashion project) and it's time to post them both. I am not so thrilled with the end results - they look severe/a little too formal - but I will still be wearing them this winter with chunky belt and boots. And since I can't function when it's cold, you can usually just only see my face under layers of scarves, and extra large down jacket, I suppose it doesn't matter. I am not hating them. Just not loving them.

Sweater dress #1:

The top part of the dress was made from a thrifted merino wool sweater that I bought for my husband. He loved it, wore it once, and then poof! I accidentally shrunken it! Oopsie. The bottom/skirt part is from thrifted XL men's cotton sweater. It's very heavy and warm.

Firstly, I cut off the sleeves, side seams and the bottom band of the merino wool sweater (The sweater was all wonky now that it's shrunken). It was smaller than before of course, but the fit at the shoulder for me was not right too. Hence the reason why I chopped it off. I used probably one of my TNT bodice and sleeves pattern to scale it down and shape the sweater and sew. I cut off the sleeve bands and just left them as they are.

The picture above is of the cotton sweater I used for the bottom/skirt part. Because the sweater is thick and heavy (and because I always wear tights), I chose not to line it. I cut off the neck area straight across and also the sleeves. I made sure to zigzag the areas where I cut into the sweater as they unravels, unlike with the shrunken merino wool top. After that, I stitched the sides to close where the sleeves were chopped off, making sure that it will fit my waist/tummy area.

Then I just sew the top part to the bottom. And thus I have sweater dress #1 done (last week). I wore it once when we went to the mall. Dress, belt, tights, boots, and a black leather jacket. I was a little warm that day in the mall, but perfectly fine when we were walking outside. It is getting colder and colder this week though.

Sweater dress #2:

This project was a lot of work. The "raw materials" are a thrifted plaid wool jacket, a thrifted sweater and a thrifted black cotton knit skirt.

Here is the picture of the plaid wool jacket before I took the seam ripper through it:

It is actually my size, but it was too long so looked a bit dated on me. I did purchase it (and a few others) to be refashioned anyways, so I don't have any qualms about "harvesting" fabric from it. And there was a lot of fabric from this jacket! So I decided to make a tie front top with bust darts. (I've made a tunic with this kind of neckline last month from a thrifted cotton plaid set - i love plaids- of top and skirt from Land's End brand. Initially I thought they were pyjama set, but probably not with the pleated skirt.)

I started this project with the sweater that was to be the skirt of the dress. It is acrylic material, super soft and unravels a lot. I cut off all the seams and sleeves, and used the thrifted cotton black knit skirt as a lining to the skirt (My thought is that it will add structure and warmth). I used an A line skirt I have as a pattern guide to shape the skirt pieces.

I used the sweater's sleeves as the dress' sleeves after adjusting the size a little. I attach the sleeves to the bodice, then attach the front of the skirt piece to the front part of bodice and the back piece of the skirt to the back part of the bodice. Then I just sew straight on from the sleeves to the bodice to the skirt, both sides....

I had to baste and handsew a lot for this project, so it took all week to complete. I work on it when I can - when the baby naps, and when I am not distracted by the internet.... I can't say how long it would have taken me if I work on this straight :) I like this dress better than the first one. I like the color better on me, and it's looser fit too, which I prefer.


I will still be making more sweater dresses in the future I'm sure. With a more casual style that suits my life. I have some ideas, but will have to see if I have all the materials I needed to make them. We'll see.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vogue 1261 - view B

I'm a slow worker. It took me 5 hours to cut the fabric for this project. Then abandoned this project for 2 days. And then spent the whole afternoon and night of Saturday sewing this. Why it took me this long? Because I decided to work while watching all the episodes and seasons of Say Yes to the Dress that are available on Netflix, and the latest Project Runway on their website (we don't have cable). And got distracted big time. That's why.

But it's all done. And I wore it the next afternoon on Sunday - impromptu picnic with my family at the park.

About the tunic:

Pattern: Vogue 1261 - I made View B (the white tunic with cowl collar).

I decided to just cut the pattern size 16 after adding 3 inches to the length. When I cut the fabric, I added 2 inches to the abdomen area to by sliding and pivoting... I didn't make any muslin this time...

Fabric: Black ponte knit from (Still have at least 8 yards left)

Notions: 2mm twin needle & 2 1/2 yds of black ribbons (i used 5/8" rayon ribbons that was meant for seam/hem finishing from my stash that I got from thrift store). The ribbons to be used for the back seam for decorative purposes like so:------------------------------------>

The black ponte knit I used made the tunic feel nice and warm as it is a little heavier than cotton jersey and such. The tunic does look like the pattern picture even though in black it's difficult to capture the details in photo.

detail on the shoulder-sleeves seam
However, I think I needed a smaller size for my shoulder (and I will alter that part in my future version if I make any), but the chest and so on fits me well. I even like how the sleeves fits me, just not the shoulder. I still need to learn more about fitting obviously. I will also take out the 3 inches that I added to the length. Current length made me look shorter. I didn't mind the 2 extra inches that I added to the abdomen area. But next version I will can leave this out.
Ribbon detailing on the back seam

The cowl collar turned into mini hood! (who knew) Next time I will make this collar deeper, so that I can have the hood covering my whole head. Good for windy days...

Until the next project!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


On last count, I own 109 sewing patterns - 15 of them are bought brand new, and the rest I bought from my favorite thrift store over the few months for between $0.25 to $0.50 each. I probably have used 4 or 5 of these patterns ever, but I've only just begun.... There's no rhyme or reason on how I chose a pattern to take home (once I bought 20 patterns in one outing) initially. Just as long as the design looks good. Then when I start to actually learn to use them, I realized that I kept on going back to the same pattern to be used as my base, and that I don't have enough of them! Nowadays I look for different detailings, hmmm, like princess cut bodice for example, or empire waist and so on.

Don't worry, even though I hoard bought a lot of patterns from the store, there are always some left (very rarely that anyone else but me looking at them even when the store is full of people) and then I think there are always people donating more too (hence why I am able to collect so many over many weekend trips!)

The store usually have a 50% discount on everything once a month (middle of the month), and this month it fell on Monday. I usually go with my husband and baby on Saturday afternoons as our ritual (he likes to check out the antiques and nick-knacks section), but I made an exception this Monday as I really wanted to look at their old/vintage sewing machines (they have lots). I thought that I would get one that would do a straight stitch or/and zig-zag, so that I can use it to sew leather and not mess up my cheap but reliable Brother machine :). Unfortunately, I did not factor in that I have a wiggly baby with me and that meant bye bye to trying out the machines. And to be honest, I was also quite overwhelmed by the idea of threading and maintaining these vintage machines, so I will scratch that for now. I don't need another machine at this stage, even an old cheap one. I have nowhere to put it! But if a treadle type comes by i might be tempted! The memory of my late grandma's Singer :) I wonder where it is now. Long gone i suppose.

The trip was not in vain of course. I hauled back many lovely fabric measuring between 1 yd to 2 yds each for a bargain, and some back issues of Threads magazine. :)

L-R: Brown Faux leather/pleather, a more reddish brown of the same faux leather/pleather, brown satiny fabric, brown, white and sage green jersey-type fabric, a thick cottony knit fabric, 2 plaid fabrics

L-R: The same 2 plaids as above pic, a cottony light blue with white and pink flowers, a stretchy blue denim fabric, blue linen, dark blue thick woven fabric, dark blue and brown knit of some type

L-R: A lovely light rust colored (with some red) woven fabric, a black with some cream and gray woven fabric, 2 yds of lovely pure black wool for $2/yd!! and a black cotton fabric

Back at home, after the baby is asleep and I was sorting out my stash (glee), my husband was so amazed and said that I should have enough fabric now to sew for a long time... hehehe :)