Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is It Spring Yet?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't... It's green all the time here it seems even while freezing cold (to me) so forgive me if I am a little bit confused (or just wishful?).

For once I am sewing ahead of season (again, just according to me), just so that I have spring and summer friendly clothes to wear when the time comes... :) Enough is enough with wearing my winter fabric-friendly in summer and vice versa. So with that, I geared up enough courage to cut into my most spring-y/summer-y fabric, a pretty lightweight white and yellow silk I purchased online (from Gorgeous Fabrics) last year.

Somehow I thought that I got only 1.5 yards of this silk (instead I have 2, oopps), so my mind was made up to make it into a flowy top, and the best candidate for this is McCall's M6711 top pattern I've just recently made in a black version.

As you can see, I've lined the top. I didn't decide to line this while planning (fail, I thought I've covered all the bases), as I figured I will just wear a camisole underneath. But just before I sew down the inside of the shoulder facing thingy to my top front it occurred to me that I will hate it when this lightweight see through fabric going to show how clingy a camisole underneath would be. No sirree.. So I unpick as carefully as I can the armholes (that were already finished with a rayon binding) and planned for a lining.

Luckily I have a nice lightweight white lining fabric in my stash, rayon I think, and since I am not going to unpick the whole top (as the front V neckline has been neatly pressed, and the seam french-seamed) and reline/underline everything, I opted to have the front lining piece to have a U neckline and cut on fold. The back is the same, also cut on fold. Both lining pieces then were attached to the shoulder/neck/upper facing (not sure if this make sense).

Am I liking the fact that you can see a big U in front of my top under my sheer V-necked top? No. I'm crying inside a bit because I would've preferred that it is fully lined. But would I unpick the neat v-neck and risk my sheer silk fabric to be torn? I'm afraid not. So I will have to live with it, and have to think on how to have a nice full lining on a V-neck top... Is it the same as a regular U neckline top? 

oh. and other adjustments I made from my black version are:
  • cut the back piece smaller, as it was too full
  • distributed the upper back gather to the whole back rather than just middle of the back:

P/s: The black top's back is pulled down by the heavier velvet burnout knit fabric I used to complement the black silk.

So, my first fresh, spring top is done ahead of time for once. Other than the U lining neckline that's screaming at me, I love it! Truly. The fabric is great, very very sweet. Suzanne had the red (or orange?) one and made it into a very pretty dress. I have yet to wear mine out, just waiting for the perfect weather...

Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 Refashion #2: Light Jacket Upsizing & Relining

A lengthy refashion project I started a couple of weeks ago: to upsize my old linen jacket and reline it.

  • In order to evaluate how much to add to the too-small jacket, I unpick the lining and used that as my "muslin". I guestimated that I needed 3 inches added to each sides of the front bodice and under-arms of the kimono sleeves for wearing ease. I contemplated under-arm gussets for a while, but ditched that plan and stick to just adding panel insets. I added the same amount to panel inserts for the jacket.
  • I used the matching linen pants to cut up panel inserts for the jacket.
  • Using the old lining-turned-muslin as pattern pieces, I cut out new lining for the upsized jacket out of a set of thrifted grey and beige rayon blouse and skirt.

I am very happy with the outcome! The relining took 2/3 of the sewing time because I got side tracked by other ongoing projects and a sewing meetup I went to this recent Saturday (was the first actual sewing meetup I participated in, I had great fun and did not feel out of place! How could I not: talking to kind and warm adults other than my husband about sewing, fabric, crafts and whatnots without the toddler sitting on my projects or trying to pull out my pins? :) )

I did not re-sew the buttons and snaps back on (there wasn't buttonholes on the original, the self-covered buttons were just there for embellishment) because I kind of like it left open like that. Very casual. (I might consider adding some sort of closures in the future...)

Currently on my sewing table: 
  • Refashion project of an ultrasuede skirt to a handbag (status: pattern adjusted and pieces cut)
  • A white rayon-cotton knit V1261 alice + olivia vogue patterns view A (status: maybe 80% done, but man, i'm now thinking that at this stage of my sewing clothes I should consider getting a serger finally. sewing a light knit on regular sewing machine is a beast. Not looking for anything fancy, a lower end but can do good cover stitch, rolled hem, and whatnot. Using twin needles and this and that fancy detachable feet on my regular, cheap but beloved sewing machine is not cutting it anymore...)
Anybody have any suggestion on a good lower end (by that i meant $300 and lower) serger/overlock to start on? Are you using one currently?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!


In the homefront, I am working on a bunch of different things at the same time since last week: Reworking necklaces, refashioning a linen jacket (from too-small jacket, too-small pants), relining that same jacket (using fabric from thrifted blouse and skirt), making cushions and cushion covers, and making a seat cushion for my new thrifted sewing chair. Trying to finish all that so that I can proceed with making my spring tops and blouses...

Verdict: Not so good at working too many projects at the same time.

Have a great rest of the week! Can't wait to watch Project Runway tonite!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The 'Sew Over It' book I Won (for my friend...)

Last October was my blog's first anniversary which I celebrated by stash-busting my patterns in a giveaway :) I met a few more sewing friends since (in blogosphere and in real life) and kinda excited that a couple of my old friends shared with me of their interest in this hobby. One got herself a machine around Christmas, while the other is shopping for one as we speak :) I sent a Japanese sewing pattern book I bought back in 2011, 'I Am Cute Dresses: 25 Simple Designs to Sew', to a friend in Malaysia since she wanted to learn to sew herself some tunics and flowing tops and I figure she will appreciate the designs in the book more than I had. :)

As for the other friend, I entered Zoe's of the "So, Zo..." blog giveaway and won for that friend the 'Sew Over It' book! [p/s: Thank you again so muchhh for the giveaway and the book Zoe!!! My friend is ecstatic!] Let me tell you that I can be quite a selfish person... So to make sure that I don't fall prey to my own greediness and keep the book for myself (because let's face it, new sewing books are lovely to look at, smells good, and all the pictures are well, yummy!) in my entrance comment I mentioned to Zoe that I'm entering the giveaway for my friend who is new to sewing!

And somehow, for the first time in my life, the sewing stars align, and I won a giveaway! Can you beat that? Now, why can't I win something I want for myself yet? :)

The book took a while to reach here from the UK, and then after a quick glance over it got locked up with the rest of my sewing stuff for a while. I'm going to post it to my friend this week, so last night I check out the book more closely.

Let me tell you now that I love this book. It's so pretty and well organized! Be warned that I'm not a good reviewer since I ramble rather than string critical, thought provoking, clever observations... (hence why I almost never try to pattern review or review a book), so this is just my opinion on it.

In her giveaway blogpost, Zoe described the book as being aimed mostly at sewing/refashioning beginners (read more on Zoe's description of the book here), while still providing those with more experience things to learn from and ideas to take up as inspired by some gorgeous pictures of the gorgeous author.

Based on my own scale I always insist I am a novice, but I suppose compared to those who are just getting acquainted with sewing, like my friends, I would be nearer to intermediate level. So while I am extremely itching to hide this book for my "collection" and claim to my friend that it never got here, alas I know that the sewing fairy will not look upon this transgression lightly and since it will be so much more beneficial for my newbie-r friend who will be able to grow (and hopefully fall in love with sewing) and try her hand on the easy-to-follow projects shared in the book I will bid adieu to this loveliness.

The author Lisa Comfort who runs Sew Over It, a sewing cafe in South London that this book was named after, included in the book from basics such as introducing the sewing machine, to customizing and altering your existing clothes by resizing or adding interesting details such as beading.

In fact, beading on clothes is something I have always been interested to learn more about - I signed myself up in the "'Embeadery' on Fabric" workshop in the upcoming sewing and stitchery expo in Puyallup, WA next month (I got my tickets in the mail last week, yay! I'm super excited! Join me!!! Or if anybody reading this going, I will be there on the Saturday :) ) The last time I added beads to my sewing projects were the M6204 asymmetrical top and my sewing class dress, which need to be reworked, donated or refashioned!)

One thing she mentioned was refashioning from larger clothes to fit a smaller sized person being much easier (and easier to write about and illustrate I am sure). I do not know of any resource about refashioning or altering a too small clothes to fit a bigger body. For me, this is often the case, as my body changes (read, grow rather than shrunk) in the past decade, especially the past 2 years of post-pregnancy.

Unless I buy/go thrifting some too big clothes with refashioning in mind (which is rare, and sometimes I purchased even smaller thrifted stuff: a red leather jacket and so on), my "raw materials" so to speak are the stash of clothes that I saved up; the too-small clothes from my early 20s up to pre-baby, that I can't part with because of the fabric or design, and thus the challenges to refashion them is greater but still IMO doable. As my confidence in sewing grew, the more I will dip into this treasured box of clothing, take the seam ripper to them and experiment with my refashioning! I do share my refashion projects here on this blog every now and again. :)

Anyways, if anybody interested to get a copy of the 'Sew Over It' book, you can get it from Amazon UK. The US Amazon website do not have it (says it's out of print/limited availability).

I still have a bunch of sewing books to get through, and projects in them to try out... But same as music, movies, fashion trends and so on, I might get on to those when they are no longer popular or in the wrong season ;) Never de rigueur, moi ;) But hey, here I am slowly sewing along and happy as a clam, trendy or not!

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Refashion #1: Black Silk Dress to M6711 Top

In my overflowing big box of "to be refashioned" clothes was this lovely decade-old (at least) black silk dress from Zara:

Empire waisted with a faux wrap and bow, it was pretty snug when I bought it (hence short wearing lifespan), and quite light weight too since it wasn't lined. It's a pullover dress, but knowing me I might have worn it over tights or jeans. It was so long ago and I doubt I have ever been photographed wearing it.

I love the fabric - it's been auditioned for countless number of refashioning projects, but I kept on putting it back into the box until last week that is when I went to Joann's and bought yet a few more sewing patterns (gasp!) on sale... ;) I went in search of the Issey Miyake's V1142 spurred by Carolyn's yummy yellow pleat top, but alas the pattern is not there (I didn't investigate if it's sold out at the particular store, or out of print)...

I know I want to pick up patterns with interesting details, and the McCall's M6711 top meets my requirement to a degree. The pattern itself is a multi pattern: Misses' lined jacket, top, dress, lined skirt and pants. And the top's description is: very loose-fitting, pullover top that has self-lined yokes and forward shoulder seams. :) (The dress pattern is also based on this top, btw.)

After close up
As usual, I made my very own slapdash sizing adjustments that I figured will work out for me for a loose fitting pullover top: neck, shoulder, armhole at 16, sides underarm/bust level at 22 though and tapered out towards the hips an additional inch where I added another inch to the hem length too. (as pic below). 

There wasn't going to be enough fabric for the back piece, so I unearthed this black thrifted fabric of unknown material. It's kinda a knit (but no stretch!) with burnout velvet or some such mix. It's not so heavy but still heavier than the silk, hence the back pulls down the top :)

I cut the back size kinda the same like the front pieces... Thrifted bias tape finishes the armholes.

I made some adjustments to the pattern for my next top (and there will be more than one of this top coz I love it!). To make the sides at underarms smaller by .5" for the front, and take off 2 inches from each sides off the back (the back was too full to wear and even apparent in the pic above).
[Add: Note to self: For the back --> experiment on either taking off 2" from the sides of the back or 2" off the fold, since the size of the armhole is okay...]

Here is an action shot wearing my me-made. But of course the black down jacket will cover up everything the whole time I'm outdoors.. Hmm, my hat looks like a swimming cap! And I've been wearing it for 2 years and never realised it. Darn. Oh, and the Bean's hat was refashioned from a thrifted men's sweater during winter 2011. His daddy has a matching hat. They both need another one each I suppose, but spring is almost here ;) Maybe for next winter!!

Joining the linky parties at Recycled Co-op &
Recycled Fashion

Friday, February 1, 2013

Itty Bitty Quilt / Unfinished Quilts

Just sharing pics of a baby quilt I finish last year for our nephew.  It's just a simple design (or no design? :) ). I love the colors I used for this though: light blue, orange, dark brown, white :). I handquilted the whole thing, hence why my wrist was in further agony... I am not going to handquilt anything anymore, esp not blankets! And no more basting my patchwork pieces.. I have the 1/4 in sewing machine foot now... I'm keeping the handstitching parts to my garment sewing thank you very much. Urrmmm, although I suspect I will still be hand stitching close the quilt bind... Ugghh...

Front close up
Back close up
I also made 6 orange and burgundy colored quilted placemats (meant for Thanksgiving, but only completed in time to post for Christmas pressie) for my mother in law, but I was in a rush to post that time and now can't find/remember if there's any pic of those.... Those I machine piece without basting (it was just squares), machine quilt, although I still hand stitch close the binding coz it looked neater that way....

This particular blanket which is meant for the Bean (yet to be quilted) are mostly made from cut up thrifted men's shirts. The light blue square is from thrifted fabric. The white fabric is thrifted flat sheet, and the gray striped backing fabric is a thrifted flat sheet. The only brand new is the cotton batting. I started this one when the Bean was born (during my maternity leave) and he is going to be 2 and a half in 2 weeks ;). To be fair, the patchworked top was done 2 years ago, I basted the layers earlier last year, but of course I have yet to finish quilting it. I started to hand quilt this long before I finish the baby quilt (in the pics above), but I'm not going to continue handquilting this anymore...

This is also intended to be baby quilt made earlier last year... Unfinished yet. :) I used some Moda jelly roll (it's called jelly roll i think? those long rectangle strips) and some nice peace sign designer cotton purchased from wayy back when.
Front with the backing showing
:) Hope that Liz saw these pics... :)