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).