Star Wars Laptop Bag

I’ve been wanting to make this for a while, but my fear of not working with a pattern prevented me from doing so. I’ve had my little Lenovo laptop for about a year now, and while I do travel with it, it’s usually stuffed in my knitting bag or my purse, all while hoping that it won’t get scratched up. Well, now my worries are over!

Star Wars laptop bag

 

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Tenacity

UPDATE 3/16/14: My friend sent me a picture of her in her new “raintrench”. Perfect day to wear it since it’s been raining since last night. Looks perfect on her!

Val in her raintrench

Val in her raintrench

I had a hard time coming up with the title of this post, since I experienced several emotions upon finishing the coat. It took longer than I would have liked it to, but through sheer perseverance, I was able to finish it. So hooray, it’s done, and I’m happy, and my friend, who I made this for, is happy.

Trenchcoat

Finished trenchcoat

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Sew Expo 2014

This year, I didn’t attend ANY classes. I know! I was surprised, too. I kept it pretty low-key this year and took in the fashion shows and shopping instead.

Bright and early, my friend, Roxanne and I headed to the first fashion show that was of the Tilton sister’s (Katherine and Marcy). We were a bit early, but took the opportunity for a selfie.

Me and Roxanne

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Radio Silence

Yikes, it’s really been over a month since I last posted.

I lost my sewing motivation back in December, and have been struggling to regain it over the last couple of weeks. Fear not, at least I’ve been knitting.

Looks like a jellyfish

Looks like a jellyfish

Non-blocked lace doesn’t look like much, I know. Some of my friends say this looks like a jellyfish. I just hope it doesn’t look like this after I’m done knitting and it’s blocked.

The yarn I’m using is Shubui Cloud in the color “Blush”. I bought it on sale at KnitPurl in Portland back during the summer. It’s a very fuzzy, lace-weight yarn, and I’m just using one skein to make a scarf. I’ll have four skeins left over, and I’m thinking of making a pullover with the rest.

I made it back in my craft room the other day and surveyed what projects were laying around that had yet to be done. I managed to capture two UFOs (unfinished objects) in one picture.

Trench and quilt

Trench and quilt

I’ve been meaning to finish this trenchcoat for a friend. I like the pattern (an out-of-print McCalls pattern), but I didn’t like the fabric after I bought it (a laminated poly), so I decided to make it for a friend instead. I got to the point there I attached the sleeves to the body of the coat, and because the laminated poly doesn’t like to hol it’s shape, the sleeve cap is all gathered instead of a nice, rounded, smooth sleeve cap. I’ve just got to finish it.

Also, my Unicorn quilt. I’ve been wanting to start a new quilt for our bed, but mom encouraged me to finish the Unicorn quilt first, so I made it a goal this year to get it done. There’s still a bit to do on the boarder, but that’s it.

So I think the plan is (until the lining for a coat for Richard arrived) to finish the trenchcoat, then the Unicorn quilt.

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A Nod to Spring

We may be deep into winter (technically, the first day of winter was just a couple days ago), but my fashion sense knows no seasonal bounds. I was also meaning to start a series of blog posts to give some tips on working with patterns, but I got distracted with too much writing and wanted to just sew something. So, to my stash I went and pulled out the yellow cotton I picked up in Austin at Bolt Fabrics while I was visiting my parents in early November.

A Nod to Spring

I managed to track down the fabric, and it turns out that it’s a cotton sateen designed by Valori Wells. (I picked up some of Valori Wells’ voile in Portland during the summer, so I guess I’m attracted to her prints). It’s a heavy enough weight that I could have left the skirt unlined, but I decided to line it anyway and picked up some China Silk (silk is a misnomer here, since it’s polyester) at Pacific Fabrics. Earlier, I decided that because of the lines from the birch trees in this print, I wanted to make a pencil skirt (but I had just enough fabric that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything else with it). I knew that out of my hundreds of patterns I have in my collection there HAD to be at least ONE pencil skirt pattern. I found a couple, most were paired with a suit jacket, but I found one pattern from 1989, which must have been my mom’s (because I know I wasn’t this size back in 1989), and it looked like she had used it at least once before.

Is this vintage?

Is this vintage?

It was kind of fun working with a “vintage” pattern. This skirt was super simple, and had five different lengths (I went with the 25″ length that comes down just below my knees, and I’m debating about shortening it, but it comes up just above my knee when I sit down, and that’s perfect for modesty’s sake), and the lengths longer than 22″ had a vent in the back. I’ll talk a little more about the vent in my pattern review. Had I been smart and gotten more fabric, I probably would have tried to do a better job of pattern matching on the waistband, but with the darts, it probably wouldn’t have made a big difference.

And, finally achieved a perfect zipper insertion with a lining, thanks to Craftsy’s free zipper tutorial! (I watch this class EVERY time I insert a zipper).

Pattern Description

Classic pencil skirt. Pattern actually contains two styles: one with darts and one that’s gathered for a little more skirt fullness, and in five different lengths (22″ to 41″ inches).  Waist sits at the natural waist.

Pattern Sizing

I started with a size 14 at the waist and graded out to a size 16 at the hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yep, although, I hope my styling is a little more modern looking than the pattern envelope, though :)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Okay, I really tried to follow the pattern’s instruction, but this was a three piece skirt, so aside from making sure I attached the waistband in the correct way, I kind of ignored the pattern and did it the way I wanted to (using the techniques I’ve picked up over the years).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I’m very used to wearing my skirts a little lower than my natural waist, so that was different. It works fine, but it’s just a little different for me. I like the vent in the back for the longer styles.

Fabric Used

Cotton sateen (found in an upholstery store) with a Valori Wells print.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

The skirt vent, the instructions suggest just opening out, and to me, a more professional look would have been to sew it to the side. I found this tutorial for accomplishing this look on BurdaStyle from FashionSewingBlog.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Absolutely! This is a staple skirt to have in your wardrobe. Although, it might be hard to find this exact pattern, but if you have it in your stash, go for it!

Conclusion

Tried and true classic silhouettes are awesome, regardless of how old the pattern is! Don’t discount a pattern just because the pattern styling on the envelope is out of date, look at the line drawings instead.

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Gertie’s Vintage Inspired Wrap Dress

Attitude

This has been one the best learning experiences I’ve had in a long time, so prepare yourselves, this is going to be a long post and hopefully I can make it coherent. :)

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Wrap Dress Muslin, Part II

When we last left, the muslin was in a questionable state. My biggest problem was how to handle the bust darts. They are in an nontraditional location for bust darts (darts normally “point” towards the bust point to help with the shaping of the bodice) and neither of the two (per side) were pointing where I would think they should point.

Bust darts are off to the side and go past the bust point

Bust darts are off to the side and go past the bust point

Oh, and there’s a ridiculous amount of ease in the bust area (about 4″ of ease for size 12), but since it fit when I tried it on with the bra I was using, I’m fine with it. Back to the “dart issue”. I mulled it over in my head for a while, posted about it in PatternReview.com‘s forums, chatted with another blogger who also created the same dress to see what she did about it. Ultimately, I’ve decide to leave the darts alone. It’s going to be a headache to move them around, and I’m Gertie placed them there for a reason. Far be it from me to screw up a design that she created (and probably make a bigger mess of it for myself) just because it doesn’t fit neatly into the box my engineering brain thinks it should fit into.

Next, I wanted to make sure (because of previous short waist issues) that the waist length really was fine. I went back to the muslin and drew lines for the waist position and even lines for the button and button hole placement.

Muslin with lines

Waist line drawn and buttonhole and button markers

The waist location was perfectly located at my natural waist, so no back waist length changes necessary (whew, that was going to not be so fun with this dress if I did). Also, I had the wrap backwards from the first time, so when I tried it on again, I made sure to pin it up exactly where the button would be. Fortunately, that lead me to another change I would need to make: the hip width.

It was actually a little tight. I haven’t been working out or eating as well as I was back in August (after I got sick in September, I pretty much fell off the bandwagon and am trying to find the motivation to get back on it). Since the muslin waist and hip are the pattern’s largest size already, I had to grade out a total of 3″ in the hip width. It was fairly easy, and I just slipped a piece of pattern paper under the pattern and extended the width at the hips. Should still have 2.5″ ease in the hips!

Widening the pattern at the hip

Widening the pattern at the hip

Well, I threw the fabric in the dry with a Woolite dry cleaning sheet, and I’m ready to start cutting out this pattern!

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“Vintage” Wrap Dress Muslin

Since it’s hovering around freezeing temperatures in Seattle, what better time to make a wool dress?

This is Gertie’s vintage inspired wrap dress, published by Butterick. I bought some wool and gabardine for this project from Mood a little while ago, so I didn’t want to start cutting into that until I had made a proper muslin. I finished the muslin last night and I’m mostly happy with it.

Front view

Front view

Ignore the crease that looks like it should be the waistline, because it’s not. I just didn’t do a very good job ironing out the wrinkles and creases in my muslin fabric. I didn’t follow Lynda Maynard’s technique with the lines (tsk, tsk, I know), but I had my husband assess the back for bagginess, which he said there was none (it didn’t look that way in the mirror when I tried it on, but it’s good to have a second opinion from someone who can actually see your back without you twisting to look in the mirror). So now I’m questioning whether my short waist really is THAT (3.5cm) short. I guess it’ll require a few more muslins to be sure.

Regardless of my short waist or not, the fit was pretty comfortable. What wasn’t okay was that the bust darts (and there’s four of them) go up and over my bust point by a couple of inches. Yikes! So, my plan will be to mark the waist point on the dress, make sure it’s where my waist is (and adjust where necessary), like I should have done in the beginning. Then, shorten the bust darts so they’re not going up and over my bust point.

Guess this is a good lesson on not skipping steps, too :)

Back view

Back view

I’m super excited to start this dress, but I want to make sure I achieve the right fit for this, because, this is why I sew :)

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Sparkly Silver Shirt

In the sewing community, the topic of what the “best” sewing machine comes up quite often. It’s a subjective discussion, and everyone has their favorite brand, their can’t-live-without feature, et cetera. But when it comes down to it, there’s no “best” machine, it’s all about what YOU as the sewist can do with what you’re given. There are sewists out there who still use antique treadles to get the job done and churn out stunning garments and quilts on these ancient machines. There’s no walking foot. There’s no buttonhole guide. There’s no zig-zag function. It’s pure simplicity. Mastering sewing techniques are far more worthwhile than extra features on a machine (although, I do admit, they make getting the job done a LOT easier).

I don’t have a treadle. And mom’s “vintage” Singer 2210 is hardly an antique. But it doesn’t have the same advanced functions that my Baby Lock Elizabeth does (who was taken to the shop this afternoon, and I probably won’t see her again until the 16th of December). So, to put my point into practice (and especially since I grew up sewing on this machine), I’ve decided I’ll continue to sew my projects (and not just a handful of muslins or clothes for Cassie) as I can on the Singer. There’s no walking foot; all I have to sew my knits with is a ballpoint needle and a skinny zig-zag stitch.

Back in August, I bought some sparkly silver knit from Fabric.com as an impulse buy. It looks more blue on the website, but when rolled out, it’s reminiscent of a Sci-Fi-ish, Cyberman silver… with glitter. It’s the perfect embodiment for a Seattle winter. Naturally, I loved it. I bought a yard and a half, which is plenty to knock out a shirt or some kind of top. I decided to do something simple, and knew somewhere deep in my stash of patterns, I had a simple shirt pattern. I had a couple that were a few years old (and by a few years, I mean the late 80′s, early-to-mid 90′s). But one I found was given to me by my mom and really wasn’t that old at all. In fact, I still have a shirt that she made for me from this pattern created by Sandra Betzina. Being published in 2005, it’s not really that old and it isn’t even out of print.

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Pattern Description 

Pull-over knit top, … with DARTS! (and half-length sleeve)

Pattern Sizing 

I opted for the pattern for bust size 34.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? 

Almost exactly, unintentionally. The pattern shows a blue ribbed shirt, mine’s silver.

Were the instructions easy to follow? 

Oh, Sandra. I did get a little scared at first when I saw the wall-of-text per instruction, but as I read, you were VERY clear on your instruction, so that a lesser experienced sewist would know exactly what to do. I mostly skimmed the instructions after that, making sure that I was assembling the shirt in the correct order and hemming up the sleeves in the specified amount.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 

I really like the darts. I’m not a busty girl, so even if I’m wearing a “girly” t-shirt, my bust looks rather… small. It’s not that I want to BE busty, but the darts do a very good job of adding another dimension to an otherwise generic shirt. Including the collar band and excluding the optional ties (which I left optional), there’s only four pattern pieces. If I had given the pattern more thought, I would have probably cut out the long sleeves, but since the weight of the fabric is pretty light weight, the half-length sleeves worked out really well and I can wear this shirt into the spring.  No complaints about this pattern at all, actually.

Fabric Used 

A sparkly silver knit from Fabric.com that’s a rayon/poly blend.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made 

Left the bottom hem a little longer than instructed, but I like longer shirts. And even though I top stitched the collar band, I still put a smidge of hem tape under it to make sure that it would stay put and not flip up.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? 

If I needed another basic shirt, I’d definitely go with this one first. Highly recommended.

Conclusion

The thing this shirt pattern has over other knit shirt patterns are the darts. It’s a subtle, but nice detail that gives the garment more depth and a better looking fit.

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Hoodie for Cassie

My beloved Baby Lock Elizabeth has been needing a trip to the shop for a good servicing, so I’ve packed it up and put it aside until I can take it down to the shop sometime this weekend. In the meantime, I pulled out my back-up machine, which was mom’s Singer 2210 from 1987 to help me with preparing for projects I have in my queue. Also, I decided to start organizing my stash of fabric and projects.

I have a huge Rubbermaid container that I throw all my remnants and scraps in that I hope to use (what can I say, I’m a “just in case” hoarder at heart) someday. I had a large amount of navy knit leftover from my skirt, and I thought I might have enough for a sweatshirt for me, but… nope. But I did have enough to make a hoodie for my dog. Every time she goes outside for a walk in the rain, she always looks so sad with the rain getting in her funnel-like ears, so I was hoping this might help her.

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Cassie doesn’t really like it, but it keeps her dry when she goes for her walks outside in the rain. I should have anticipated having to shorten the length on the sleeves because of her stubby Corgi legs, so I think I’ll probably cut them off and fold in the raw edge, but for now, they’re rolled up to her elbow when she wears her sweatshirt.

Aside from using up scraps, this project also gave me an opportunity to fire up the Singer again and make sure it wasn’t going to devour any of my fabric like it liked to do when I sewed dresses for school dances in high school. It sure loved the taste of polyester satin.

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Pattern Description

Pet sweater. Yep.

Pattern Sizing

Extra-small to Medium. Cassie is a medium (even with as long as she is).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yep.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes; Simplicity is usually pretty easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

The order of seams makes it difficult to alter this pattern (leave the side seam open, sew the top of the sleeve to the shirt, sew up the side seam and sleeve seam, then sew the bottom ribbing on lastly), especially since I”ll need to remove the sleeves. So instead of removing all the seams to adjust the sleeve, I’ll probably end up cutting off the sleeve and then sewing up the armhole.

Fabric Used

Medium-weight jersey that I used for a winter maxi skirt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

None, but I should have removed or shortened the sleeves. Corgi’s have short legs :)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Maybe… for one of the cats :P Definitely recommended for smallish to medium size pets.

Conclusion

As much as my dog doesn’t enjoy wearing this, it is a good pattern for stash busting, especially if you like dressing up your pet. I may make another for one of my cats, but I have a feeling he’ll like it less than the dog. :)

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