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 😛 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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Souffle Girl Dress

Since I don’t consider myself to be a designer, it’s amazes me how designers translate their inspiration from something into fashion. The most I’m able to do with inspiration is try to find a pattern closest to the dress I want to recreate. Baby steps, right?

And since I’m a huge nerd, I HAD to make something special for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. Even though I’ve been sitting on this project for a while, the impending celebration was enough to push me to get this dress done in time for the event (and, isn’t too costume-y so that I can also wear it to work).

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Clara Oswin Oswald from Doctor Who

Honestly, Clara’s not my favorite of the Doctor’s companions (that spot’s reserved for Rose and Donna), but I LOVE red, and when I saw her Souffle Girl red dress, I knew I needed to make it. Looking at it, it looks like a knit sheath dress, with kind of a cowl neck, and half-length sleeves. The skirt is a little short for me, but with the magic of sewing, I can make it as long as I want. :)

Minus the utility belt, I think I nailed it

Minus the utility belt, I think I nailed it

Well, let’s get on with the review:

Pattern Description

This was Vogue 8873. It has a drapey overbodice, I opted for the half sleeves, and the straight skirt that has… POCKETS!

Pattern Sizing

I stuck with my size 12, and widened out to a 14 in the hips. This was interesting, since the pockets and the skirt seam are below the natural waist, so some of the hip resizing took place on other pieces than the skirt itself (including the pocket facing, the pocket lining, the skirt lining, and the skirt).

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

If you cut and pasted a couple designs together, yep.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, although, when sewing the skirt vent to the lining, I did have to concentrate a little harder than normal, since this was my first time doing it. I figured it out, though. :)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

LOVE POCKETS. I’m getting over my fear of straight skirts, so I was very happy with how it turned out.

Fabric Used

I used a red ponte knit and a black tricot for lining; both from Mood Fabrics.  I discovered that I love working with ponte: it’s very drapey, still stretchy, but kind of stable. It would work for a lot garments, I think. It DID get a little bulky in parts (since the front of the bodice is a lining, underbodice, and overbodice), though.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I almost put a zipper in, but the ponte knit gave the dress a bit of stretch that I didn’t bother with a zipper and it’s able to slip over my head very easily.

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

I can see doing the flowy skirt with the cap sleeves in a summery rayon. If  I ever find some fabric I like, maybe I’ll reuse this pattern again. I love the drapey neckline.

Conclusion

If you need a Souffle Girl inspired dress, here’s the pattern for you. If you love drapey necklines and pockets, this is also the pattern for you!

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Austin City Crafting

This past week, I’ve been visiting my parents at their new home in Austin. Even though they’ve been down here for about six months, Mom hadn’t visited some of the popular yarn and fabric stores in the area, so that’s what we did on Friday. We spent all of our time on the south side of Lady Bird Lake around SoCo and Lamar. Here’s a couple highlights from our excursion:

Hill Country Weavers

Mom mentioned that this yarn store in SoCo was well recommended by some gals in a knitting meet-up group she attended. It’s right on Congress Ave and an easy stone’s throw away from some of the hipster places on the street. The store is a converted house, and every room has shelves and shelves of yarn. Yarn is tucked into just about every nook and cranny in the store, and it’s easy to get yarn-overload while in the store. I probably could have spent half the day in trying to pick out just ONE thing I wanted. (Fortunately, for our bank account, I already have two knitting projects in queue at home). Even though I didn’t buy anything, mom got a couple skeins of a super fine wool to make a shawlette.

Bolt Fabrics

When I looked up this place on Yelp, I didn’t realize it was upholstery fabric. If I had, I probably would have struck it from our list, but I’m glad I didn’t. Mom was able to see fabrics for some home dec projects she had in mind, and I found an awesome cotton print. The fabric weight wasn’t too heavy, but not too lightweight that I’ll need to line it. It’ll be perfect for a pencil skirt (maybe an A-line, but I’m thinking more pencil).

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TexStyles

Mom said she drove by this store every day on her way home from work, and always meant to stop in. Glad we did! I wish we had a fabric store this amazing in Seattle (Nancy’s comes close, but this place was beyond any I’ve been in, save for Mood). It’s a small room in a strip mall. At first, you wonder if they’ll have anything, and then you walk in to a sea of fabric. The owner drives to California to hand select the fabric he sells in his store (fun fact: Daniel Esquivel of Project Runway fame shops there) and instead of storing bulky bolts of fabric, he puts them on hangers, and has the walls covered in hangers of fabric. Makes it easier to sell a larger selection of fabric, in my opinion. Mom and I both walked out of there with something: I bought three-yards of a purple heathered knit that I’ll probably use for another sweater/t-shirt dress.

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I’ve strongly encouraged Mom to continue to visit her local crafting stores (because I would if I lived here!) I know it’s sometimes easier/cheaper to buy fabric online, but if we don’t support our local stores, they’ll go out of business and won’t be there when we want/need them.

Also, I finished my socks this week. Yay!

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