Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finished: Mod Curtains

I hate linen. A lot. You can usually see through it, it wrinkles when you look at it, and generally I just think it's unattractive.

But the boyfriend handed me one panel of charcoal gray linen curtains and told me to add it to my stash, that maybe I could make a dress from it. Not happening.

But since I did have one curtain panel, why not use it?

I cut it down the middle to create two panels, then paid entirely too much for some blue linen to mix with it. I tend to like ruffles on my curtains, but I'm pretty sure linen won't drape well enough for that. So I did an easy fix and went for the mod look.

I just added some color and length to the sides. Super easy!

In all, it took me an hour, which isn't bad. I have tons of blue linen left over (and just a bit of gray since I cut off some of the length so that it wouldn't permanently rest against the radiator) so I'm thinking of making a matching lampshade and maybe some pillows for the room.

It also works perfectly because the room is designated as winter, as all the rooms in my apartment have seasons assigned to them.

And the gray and blue is just the perfect color as well. Or perhaps the linen material is perfect because it's not too dark. I tried taking a picture of the room with the curtains closed - it does darken the room, but the linen is so thin that the light continues to stream in.

Generally I love them and I can't wait to finish all the other home accessories for the room!

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Can't All Be Perfect

As much as it pains me to say this, not everything I make is perfect. Or, perhaps more appropriately, not everything I make can be salvaged.

First Up:
My sewing has been stalled for the last few months because I wasn't sure how to save a dress, and I couldn't  just MOVE ON when there was a crisis at hand. I thought I had a way to fix it, but because I rushed too much when I was originally making it (I was on a deadline!), I kept finding things that needed to be fixed. Finally, when my mother came to visit, I threw it on my dress form and decided to wait before finally perfecting my dress that I've been waiting months to wear.

Alas, while it was hanging on the dress form, I noticed more and more mistakes. Except this time I know I can't fix them because I can't take it apart. It's jersey, and for some reason, I sewed it originally with a reinforced stitch. So not only would it take hours to take apart, but even if I managed it, it would leave gaping holes in the fabric. I could take it in everywhere, but then it would be a bit too tight. It's jersey, so it would stretch, but I think even jersey has its limits.
Laziness in lining up the waist.
Stretching of the waistband. Darts don't line up.

I don't even want to talk about these sleeves...
I'm now trying to decide what, if any of it, I can salvage. Surely I can do something with the fabric left in the skirt. And maybe I could do something with the top? I hate discarding it as I'm in love with the fabric, and I'm also hesitant to discard it because it would be my first true garment failure...

I've been working on this sweater for almost two months. It's coming along quite nicely except I decided I don't like it. It's meant to be an oversized sweater, but it doesn't even meet the top of my pants! Technically, if I pull it down, it goes to the length I'd prefer (about 5 inches lower), but when I let go it shrinks back up.

Furthermore, I hate the holes in it, which you can't really see from the pictures, but because I knit it with giant needles, it has holes in it. It's meant to be that way. It's a style. But I didn't care for them going in, and I don't know if I can get over them.

And lastly, it's rather bulky. If it was oversized, it would have been fine. But it's very fitted and cropped and so it just looks like I'm wearing a bulletproof vest.

I haven't blocked it yet, and since I'm new to knitting, I don't even know exactly what blocking does. Can this be fixed by blocking? Can it be saved at all?

I'm thinking I'll have to unravel it and start with something else. Maybe a cape.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lace Fabric Secured!

I have good news and bad news. The bad news really isn't bad except that I'm omitting a step from the PD sew along. But let me back up and start at the beginning. Yesterday, I met up with Ashley from Craft Sanctuary for brunch and a bit of fabric shopping. Everything went really well, including finding fabric for the sew along!

In my mind, I figured there would be gobs of white lace and that would be the best option and from there I would dye it, but it turns out that there was a nice selection in all colors. They had some beautiful bright corals and pinks (which is what I was leaning towards), but I didn't really care for the pattern in the lace. But then I found a beautiful lavender lace, and I fell in love.

After my lace was cut, I went through and held the lace up to all the different colors for the lining. I knew I wanted it to be a close match, but I really loved looking through all the different contrasting colors as well. Finally I settled on a lavender lining.

It's very close in color, which does tend to hide the lace rather than focusing on it, which is what I wanted. It also makes the lace look a bit gray, which is also what I wanted. I'm thinking of doing gray trim in spots, but we will see.

Originally I was planning on dying the white lace I found. I was originally thinking I wanted to dye it naturally with tea or coffee, but then I was worried that it would be too similar to my skin color and it wouldn't look the best. Then I saw a beautiful pink lace dress and I thought that should be the color of my newly dyed dress, but I'm pretty pleased with the lavender. Dying will just have to wait for another project!

Anyone else found fabric for theirs?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Sewing With Lace

Gems of European Lace, ca. 1600–1920

A few months ago, I went to a sewing meet-up at the Met for a lace exhibit. I looked at some gorgeous pieces of lace that were set out, and I was lucky enough to chat with the curator of the exhibit. Later her assistant came out the office and gave us a tour of her favorite pieces of lace in the museum.


In between oohing and ahhing over each beautiful, hand woven piece, I would lament that I really wanted to work with lace, but I was far too intimidated to begin because it was so difficult. A few of the other ladies nodded their heads in agreement, but one did not.


Marina at Frabjous Couture shook her head and said that lace was in fact easy to work with. She said other things about it that I don't really remember (it was a few months ago!), but what I remember the most was her look of confusion and bewilderment at my statement.

Since then, I've often thought about jersey, my most favorite material to wear ever, and how many people are afraid to sew with it. And sure it takes a few extra minutes (or hours) to get the hang of it on your machine, but in the end, it works and you're not sure what ever took you so long to get on board. I'm hoping that's how it goes with lace!

In preparation for the Pushing Daisies sew along, I've been researching the best types of lace and different tips and I've compiled them all below. If you have any other tips or page suggestions, let me know and I'll update!

Selecting Lace:
Heavy laces, such as Alencon or Cluny are best for fitted silhouettes.
Lightweight laces, such as Chantilly, are best for full skirts and sleeves, as well as ruffles.

Select amount of lace fabric with the pattern in mind or you may find you won't have enough to do long sleeves with a scalloped edge, for example.

Fabric Care:
If the lace states it is washable, then you should pre-shrink it per normal. Most laces are dry clean only.

Lace is usually starched stiff when you purchase it, so a nice soak is usually needed before you begin working with it. Soak Wash is usually recommended and available at Amazon, but any mild detergent should work. Let it air dry flat.

After washing or soaking the lace, if you're working with lace trims, you should spray starch on it to stiffen it back up and make it easier to work with and feed through your machine.

Cutting Fabric:
Lay the lace out fully before cutting to notice patterns. Match as best as possible, as you would with a large print pattern.

Use complete pattern pieces if possible instead of half pattern pieces to ensure the lace pattern matches.

Sewing Lace:
Sew with a narrow stitch or narrow zig-zag stitch.

Take great care when pressing lace. Using a press cloth to prevent the iron from snagging is recommended, as is a low temperature setting.

Finger pressing seams, darts, and other details is best. Finger press by pressing firmly while wearing a thimble. If more pressing is necessary, steam lightly before continuing to finger press.

Source, Source, Source

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm on the Map! A Map for Sewers

I saw this at both Finished Threads and My Happy Sewing Place and I thought it was such a fantastic idea! Originally started by Vicki at Another Sewing Scientist, the idea is to have a map of sewing blogs across the world. You can discover new blogs somewhere far away or find someone in your neighborhood! Meet-ups and what not are also another great possibility. Check it out!

Here's all you have to do...
Open this link to get to Map the Sewintists
Click on the red Edit button on the left
Click on the blue pin on the upper left of the map (though I would only do this after you've gotten to your area of the world on the map--I accidentially dropped my blue pin near
Click on your location to drop the pin
A box will open that will allow you to add your name or blog URL in rich text 
And voila!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Finished: Cozy Knit Slippers

I'm feeling a little stuck on my knitting. I have yarn and ideas of things to make in my head, but some patterns scare me off and sometimes I'm not so sure how I feel about the finished product. Lately I've been unraveling my projects after I finish them because I decide I don't like them, but that's for another post.

I bought this thick, green yard to make cable slippers to wear around the house in the winter, but then I got so intimidated by the patterns for, essentially, socks, that I tabled the project for a few months.

After feeling iffy about my latest sweater and also discovering easy, free patterns on Ravelry, I decided to tackle the slippers again. And it turns out the pattern I liked best wasn't cable knit socks, but little elfish shoes instead.

Well, not quite as elfish as I imagined when I was making them since the toe isn't pointed. But pretty close. I just love the cuffs!

The pattern was ridiculously simple once I learned to read DROPS design patterns. For some reason I couldn't comprehend what they meant and every other line in the pattern I had to stop to ask for help.

Luckily I figured it out and now I have a warm pair of slippers!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pushing Daisies Sew Along Schedule

My goodness, I have been so overwhelmed with everything these past two weeks! I've had an ungodly amount of work to do, my mother has been in town, I've been trying to finish up start Valentine's Day presents for my boyfriend (which was a failure - Valentine's Day has been postponed), and in the midst of everything, Sew Grateful has been going on and in addition to discovering many new, amazing blogs, I had actually had people join my sew along! (And today's the last day to join my giveaway if you're interested!)

So... having never done one of these before, I'm going to create a schedule that will probably be altered a few times. I made a lot of categories because I'm assuming that will be helpful, but let me know if you want to see less. Or more! If you notice something that's missing, let me know so I can add it!

Just a note: I tend not to make muslins because I like to wing everything (and not spend time and money), but I certainly encourage the making of muslins for those who want everything to be perfect.

I'm all about saving money at this point in my life so I'm going to be using patterns from my stash. For the top I'm adapting Vogue 9810 version C and for the bottom I'm using Butterick B5708. Alice at Heteronormative Lovefest recommended the 1202 Cambie dress, which is just darling, and it seems like an excellent option.

As I mentioned in the original post, I'm not so sure I want another bright red dress so mine will probably be a different color. I haven't checked prices yet, but in my head I'm assuming white lace is the cheapest so I'm probably going to get that and dye it.

The dates are approximate! I will do my best to get the posts up that week so if you don't see them that day, I'm sure they will appear shortly.

Sewing With Lace
Selecting Fabric
Cutting Fabric
Piecing Together the Bodice and Gathering the Skirt
Mistakes, Mistakes
French Seams
Facing Like A Boss
Update: Assembling Shoulders and the Dress
The Post in Which I Stop Caring
Show and Tell

So hopefully we'll have a new dress by the end of March, just in time for spring!

I'm trying to figure out how to make badges now so you can have post them on your blogs!

Also, if you make any Pushing Daisies dress, not just the red one I'm focusing on, please send it in because I would LOVE to see it and feature it with everything else!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sew Grateful: Pushing Daisies Sew Along

Today in the Sew Grateful week is the day to provide resources, tutorials, patterns, etc. I was actually hoping to provide a pattern for you guys of my 1920s dress (and if you're interested in testing the pattern - let me know!), but I got a little burned out designing and creating the dress that just won't ever be good enough! Next week I'll finish it, maybe. Probably not.

I'm happy to link you guys to my sewing page on Pinterest (click here!) where I do have free patterns and tutorials and links to tips and tricks on everything from working with lace to maintaining your machine.

But I want to offer something more for Sew Grateful, and it's for an entirely selfish reason.

Have you ever seen Pushing Daisies? It's one of my favorite shows, and if you've seen it, I'm sure it's one of your favorite shows. It was killed by the writer's strike of '08, so there's only 2 seasons to re-watch over and over again.

Why should you care?

Because I want to host a sew along! I don't know if I have enough followers to do that and I usually have a difficult time remembering to take pictures and explain my process, but I'm putting this up anyway and we'll see how it goes. Perhaps it will just be me by my lonesome, but I'll have a kick-ass dress at the end of it so who cares?

This is Chuck:

Chuck wears pretty dresses.

And pretty under things as well.

I think my favorite part of Chuck's outfits are that she's wearing them to blend in, not stand out.

Okay, hopefully now you understand just part of my obsession with this show. Of all the dresses, I've been coveting the red lace dress for the longest, and I think that's the dress I'm going to focus on for this sew along. (Perhaps the lingerie will be next?)

Looking through my patterns, I think a combination of Vogue 9810 version C and the skirt from Butterick B5708 will be the closest fit.

I haven't yet made the Vogue pattern, so I'm not sure if there will be any fitting issues. Obviously, we'll have to make some alterations, most noticeably shortening the sleeves, though that shouldn't be difficult. I've made the Butterick pattern previously and it's very easy to work with. The gathered skirt sans petticoat would be perfect for this dress.

So what do you think? Are you in? I'm happy to make this my first sew along if others are interested, though I'll probably make it purple or navy instead of red. I've also secretly thinking about buying white lace and dying it in tea for a cool vintage/sepia effect!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sew Grateful: Reflection

Without the sewing and blogging community, I don't think I'd be sewing like I am today so I owe everything to you guys.
Yes, I was interested in sewing on my own. And yes, I took a sewing class to refresh the one semester costume class I took in college, but can a few hours really teach me everything I need to know to make a garment? Not really. In a city where I couldn't turn to anyone to ask questions (unless I wanted to pay them), I would have been lost and I probably would have given up.

Every pattern I've gotten has been because someone linked to an amazing deal or a free pattern. Every instruction or tip I've gotten has because there's such a large online presence that no matter what question I may have (and I always have questions), someone has asked it before and someone has always given a very detailed response.

Furthermore, I just love posting inspiration pictures or fabric I randomly decided to buy and get your feedback and ideas on what it should become.

Additionally, I'm incredibly grateful that I'm able to meet up with sewing bloggers. Whether it's with Rachel from Layer, Stitch, Repeat to create a skirt together or with Marina from Frabjous Fashion Couture and others from the NYC sewing meet-up group to admire lace at the Met (with a personalized tour no less) or costumes from Katherine Hepburn's films, these are experiences I wouldn't have without the internet and the sewing community online.

I can't wait to see what (and who!) this year brings me.

Also, if you're ever in NYC and want to do something sewing related, I'm usually up for it. If you're in Astoria and want to be my new sewing or knitting buddy, I'm definitely game.

Sew Grateful: Vintage Pattern Giveaway

I mentioned that I would be hosting a giveaway for Sew Grateful week, and now I've gone and missed the day to post! Oh well, I'm sure it's fine to post a day late, and I should hopefully have another post later because today is the day for reflections.

I'm giving away Simplicity 7580, an adorable dress or dress and shorts combo from 1968. It's a size 12, bust 34. The envelope is a little busted, but the pattern itself is in great condition. It's been cut, but all the pieces and the instructions are there. I haven't made it up, but it looks very simple and darling.

To enter:
Leave a comment letting me know that you want it. Simple as that!

For an additional entry, you can follow my blog and leave a comment saying that you do, but that's not necessary.

I'll ship anywhere. Contest ends February 14th at 11:59pm EST.