Tuesday, December 10, 2019

More Stockings

The past couple years I've only done Christmas stockings for prior clients. So this one woman wanted some more stockings for extended family. As well, I totally messed up the names on the back of two of the stockings from last year, so I had to fix those. Ooops.

Not too much to say about these, made to match these...ummmm...why do I not have a blog post about the first batch? Searching...searching...I never took a photo?! Okay, imagine a picture looking just like this photo, but with different names on the back LOL.

I spent a lot of time searching my blog. Not only did I not post the other stockings, It doesn't look like I included one of the stockings in the 2018 totals! It feels like that was just last month. As well as the stocking, I have a lot still to share from this year, some sewing for the girls from last year, and there's even a hat/scarf set I made for a friend that I can't seem to find any posts!  In Oct 2018 I wrote I had a custom order from a friend, but I don't recall what that was! I don't think it was that hat/scarf set. I'm so confused. 

I guess I will go back and alter last year's totals.

Yarn In:  2485.5gr
Yarn Out: 305gr + 1732gr=2037gr
Balance:  448.5gr IN
Costs: $90.24/344 days = $0.26/day

Sunday, December 08, 2019

This Year's Christmas Stockings for a Previous Client

This year, I had orders for eight custom Christmas stockings for prior customers. And I needed to correct two stockings for one of those customers (and make three more). I already showed the first few, now for the rest (I've gotten behind on showing this year's projects, knitting and sewing).

This stocking is another one for the family from this post and this post. I got an email from Kiera, wanting one for her new baby. I didn't get back to her right away, and her husband, Patrick, contacted me through Facebook. She sent me pictures of her and Patrick's stockings. She was using the same last night as the original man that ordered, so I was thinking Patrick was a brother and she married into the family. But then why had I knit one for Patrick? I searched through all my photos and couldn't find one indicating I knit Kiera's stocking--which had a different shade of green for the words. I was getting totally baffled, so I emailed Kiera. Duh...she was the sister to the original client and her's was an original. Patrick married into the family. 

My notes are still not great for this pattern, made even worse by getting the actual pattern after having done the first batch. I pretty much don't use the bought pattern and just go with what I charted. I got the yarns out and got going. As I got into the green behind Santa's head, I got concerned. I didn't have a whole lot of this yarn left. What if I ran out? What if she had more kids?

I found a blanket I had knit for Crochet Blankets for Seniors, but hadn't woven in all the ends yet. There were some sections done in this green! 

I was really stressed that I wouldn't get this done. I had been working on all the other orders when this came in and some of the other ones were giving me a hard time. I set a goal of being done by Dec 1, and if I wasn't finished, I would finish but only charge for the materials. I had to ship it to Ottawa so I had to leave enough time before Christmas for that. In the end, I set the others aside and got this one cranked out pretty quickly! I forgot to weigh it but based on the other ones, I'm calling this in at 80gr. 

Yarn In:  2485.5gr
Yarn Out: 80gr + 1652gr=1732gr
Balance:  753.8gr IN
Costs: $90.24/342 days = $0.26/day

Saturday, November 09, 2019

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We had snow on Thursday. A pretty good dumping, but it's melted. I delivered the first Christmas stockings of the season today!

These were for a repeat customer. There was the Grace stocking with the cat, and one for Elise with a cat. She wanted plain ones for when they're a bit older, as well as for her and her husband. She also wanted them bigger.

There are some issues when you go bigger. A bigger foot looks a little out of proportion. And a larger foot gets floppy when hung empty. Not much else to say about these. It's nice to be able to add to people's collections. These were a nice break from other, more detailed stockings I'm working on.

Yarn In:  2485.5gr
Yarn Out: 450gr + 1202gr=1652gr
Balance:  833.5gr IN
Costs: $90.24/313 days = $0.29/day

Friday, September 06, 2019

Water Socks!

So, we're going on a cruise. Yup. Taking our two girls and my mom! Her first cruise!! Exciting! One item you often see recommended to take are water shoes. Many excursions involve water, and although the beaches are usually beautiful sand, you never know what lurks beneath. I also frequently hurt my feet and hate strange things touching my feet in the water LOL. One day on Facebook, there was an ad for these water slippers. They had thin soles, unlike most water shoes that have thick plastic soles. While those do have good traction and protection, they are heavy and we're trying to pack light.

So I looked at the slipper pattern I use and thought maybe I could just make them smaller with swim fabric. But I didn't think the style would be the most secure in the water. I searched and searched online to find something like what was in the ad.

I finally found these Skin Splashy Shoes. Seemed simple enough. I bought the pattern. I had already ordered the Tough Tek from The Fabric Snob (I'm on a new 2-in-1 tablet so linking is still a challenge). I cut out my size. For the bias banding I just cut a strip of the swim fabric to fold over the top.

 For the ankle band, you were to use woven fabric but  I couldn't figure what to use so  I used some interfacing. I didn't stick well and you can kind of see it.

It should have been difficult to put together, but of course I had some issues. And when I tried them on, they were too pointy at the toes and wide around the ankle. The opening wasn't snug either. So I resewed a few spots, took off some of the opening binding and stretched it tighter. I think I ended up making them a bit too small for me though. So I had my mom try them on and she was happy with them.
She does aqua-fit so these will also be good for that.

So I had to make another pair for myself. This time I didn't trim the toes as much. For the opening binding, I made wider trim and stitched down like bias binding, then folded it over and stitched from the right side. The inside wasn't folded in again, so I trimmed it close the stitching. Also on both pairs, I trimmed the front of the band back to the zig zags. I had to shorten the strip quite a bit more than what the pattern said it should be.  For the strap, I used some printed pink canvas. 
At the end of June I sprained my left ankle. You can see the swelling on the top of my foot. And this was seven weeks later.

I didn't make the foam insoles for either pair. I tested them in the hot tub, putting my feet right up to the jets, to see if they would slip off. They stayed on. Yes, it might be odd to be on a beach with my mommy and have matching water slippers, but I don't care. My comfort and safety is more important!   Oh, and Lucy has a bikini in this fabric LOL. Bring on the rocky shores of the Caribbean!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Buying Yarn, Using Yarn

I have 7 more Christmas stockings to make for repeat clients. So I needed more yarn. Plus some yarn for a charity blanket (trying to use up yarn from the stash....always seems to mean buying more yarn!).

3 balls Astra red x 50gr = 150 gr; $20 (aprox)
dark green Red Heart "Super Saver" 198gr, $2.90
turquoise Bernat "Satin" 100gr, $5.96
pink and purple 250+250+100gr=600gr; $5 (Fleece Artist from Facebook auction!)
purple Shetland Chunky 6x100gr= 600gr, $22.60
All that...1648gr, $56.46

Wow, that's a bit more than I was thinking. Plus, I received some coned yarns for free!  I have only one recent blanket weighed, photographed and delivered, but a couple more waiting for the finishing touches.

This one took quite awhile. And then it sat for quite a while, almost finished. Turned out all it really needed was just the side borders. When I figured out the number of stitches for the body, I messed up a bit so it needed a bit more width. I just did garter stitch on the sides. It's okay, not my favourite because of that border but it had to have certain measurements. It weighs 569gr.

Yarn In:  837.5gr + 1648gr=2485.5gr
Yarn Out: 633 gr+ 569= 1202gr
Balance:  1283.5gr IN
Costs: $33.78+$56.46=$90.24/233 days = $0.39/day

Friday, August 02, 2019

It's Chemistry

Back in the spring I saw some fabric on Facebook that I knew I had to get. At the time, the business was between here and my parents, so I could  have saved on shipping, but the business moved before the order was printed.
Lets back up a bit. When people get into sewing, they usually go to their local fabric store to shop. And are usually disappointed. You might come across an independent pattern designer, through google or blogs. You see all the awesome fabrics they use. Where do they get fabric?

Custom fabric groups and online businesses. There are two ways this is done. One, is just "in stock" or retail. Businesses like Funky Monkey, Water Tower Textiles, Fabric Snob. You've immediately upped your game by going on line. But lets say you want even more unique. That's were custom pre-orders come in. A business will create artwork and get some samples printed. They will make a call for "strike sewists" to use these samples to sew up real garments, which then often get promoted in the pattern group for whoever designed the garment pattern they used (such as Patterns For Pirates, Stitch Upon a Time, Rad Designs). Even better is when a new pattern is being tested and a sewist can use a fabric that's in a pre-sale. Everyone sees the awesome new fabric and orders through the pre-sale.

Sometimes the pre-sale closes by date, or by volume. Sometimes volume will mean you get a better price. Once you've placed your order and wait for the closing date, it can then take another 12 weeks to actually get your fabric! It gets printed (usually in China), then shipped, then all the orders are cut and shipped out.

How much is all this awesomeness going to cost you? Expect about $28/m (plus shipping) for cotton-lycra. Yup. Yes, it's expensive. It's also often quite a bit wider than fabric in retail stores--up to 72" instead of 60". And usually, the quality is really good.

I RARELY order through a pre-order. I just can't stomach the cost! I sew to be frugal. But sometimes I get sucked in. I usually just buy from people de-stashing. I see I never posted the shirt I made Rob from a pre-order fabric that "went retail" (sometimes they order extra, or people never pay up). I'm sure I ordered something else through a pre-order though...don't see anything on my selves.

But I saw the "strike offs" posted with this fabric and other fabric from the "round" (what each grouping of pre-orders is called) and knew I had to get some. There were so many prints that looked awesome and different than the florals that everyone else had. And the prints were almost all available in several bases--cotton lycra, bamboo lycra, swim, french terry...It is hard finding fabric for my men. Even though Rob is not a chemical engineer, he loved the fabric. And the awesome thing--his brother-in-law has a Ph.D in chemistry! I had never sewn for him before, but he's about Rob's size, so I got excited.

 Rob's came first, since he wanted the entire shirt in the fabric. No colour blocking for him. Full on brightness, full on periodic tables. This fabric is plush, soft and vibrant! One Friday the boss was away, so he wore this to work. No one could believe I made it. He even got comments out on his lunch walk!

  So then I moved to Pawel's shirt. I used "Taylor Tee" from Pickle Toes, who is changing names currently. I liked this pattern because the colour blocking looks more intentional--not like you got the back cut and realized you didn't have enough for the front. I ordered several different solid cotton-lycras from another business I've used before...finally "invested" in their colour swatch card...and they've just sold their business to another Canadian fabric shop. Don't know if they're going to continue with these solids or not. Rob gave his input on the colour choices for those sections. I got cutting and sewing.                            
I started laying out the pieces with the biggest ones first, making sure the fabric was the right way up, and the stretch was going the right way according to the grain arrows. I went to pin the last section on, near the shoulder, and saw that the print was not going to be straight--despite making sure I lined it up with the grain/stretch arrow (I folded the piece on the arrow, so you can see I lined it up right. The fabric is printed properly). I was not about to have the top most section be at an angle, even if it meant the stretch was not exactly how the designer wanted it. Keep this in mind if your fabric needs to be kept vertical to make sense!! 

Blogger won't let me centre the picture! So, I took a scrap (thank god this was a small piece that didn't line up, and not one of the big sections), and lined it up with the piece next to it so that the print was horizontal, then laid the pattern piece on top. I just squeaked it out with this piece. It's not off by too much, but it'll look SO much better to have all the print sections running exactly the same.

So many seams! You always read in the instructions to press the seams. It really does make a difference. You get the seam allowance to lay flat in the direction you want it to (there was no instruction on this, so I went with kind of downwards). It smooths out any ripples. The steam will help shrink back anything the got stretched. Before is above, and after is below. Not a huge difference in the picture, but in real life, it shows. Look at where the yellow meets the print. So much crisper after.

Look at this piece below. Left seam is not pressed, right seam is.
I opted to not top stitch the seam allowances. I was running low on the blue thread and no matter what you use on the print, it's going to show. And I wasn't sure my yellow matched. And sometimes topstitching creates more waviness. I did however, change my serger threads often, to make them as invisible as possible. Yes, it's more work, but it just looks so much nicer when the seam threads just disappear. Because of the colour blocking, it wasn't possible around the neckline, for example. I wasn't changing threads mid-seam LOL.

Pawel didn't come up with Lou and Nya, so I gave them his shirt incase we didn't hook up later in the summer (Nya goes to summer camp in Ontario and Lou and Pawel then use that time to travel). She said yellow is his favourite colour! I was worried the yellow was too bright compared to the blue cause he's not really a "Look at me!" type of guy. Lou loved it and was sure Pawel would too.

Rob modeled it. And asked to keep it. I hope, looking at this picture, he just hadn't straightened it out cause that front print panel looks a little skewed. His solid shirt was a pattern by the same designer, and it seemed this one was basically the same (it did come with non-colour blocking options), but the fit seems a smidge different under the arms. I hope it fits Pawel, though if it doesn't, I'm sure Rob would gladly take it off his hands. I just don't think I have enough to make another one LOL.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I first started making hats three years ago. Or, rather, I made a bunch of hats then, wasn't totally happy, and didn't make anymore. The pattern I had been using was based on a round head opening. My head isn't round and I though perhaps that was affecting the fit. I had looked at the Melly Sews! tutorial back then, but couldn't really make sense of it. And then I saw the Sorrento Hat. I really wanted to like this one because 1) my daughter just bought a bucket hat 2) we're going on a cruise and the pizza parlour is called Sorrento's and is delicious and 3) it's free. As well, Patterns For Pirates also had a free sunhat with a little different shape.  Of all these hats, only the Melly Sews! uses an oval head shape. Apparently for smaller sizes, Oliver + S has a free bucket hat with an oval shape. Not big enough for me though.

First up was the Melly Sews! tutorial. I still struggled a bit with the directions. Some of the sewing steps are not well shown. The big issue is ease. This hat does NOT mention you need to add wearing ease! I measured exactly 22". In the pattern she used her husband, who's head size was in between sizes so she sized up which gave him the ease. Not a lot, but some. I went with the 22" crown and brim formulas. Yes, I can get it on, but I can't wear it.

A shame, cause I did a hack to make a pocket in the top of the crown, held closed with a snap. Like a Tilley hat though I used the snap because I wanted to put my ship card in it and wanted to make sure it was secure. I also made the hat reversible, unlike Melly's hat. Yes, then the pocket and snap are on the outside, but I dare anyone to try to steal from the top of my head. The white is a light twill and the inside is a blue floral curtain from the 90s.

Annoyed at having to do all the brim and body piece drafting myself, I moved on to the next pattern, the Sorrento bucket hat.

This pattern says it includes 1/2" wearing ease, so I went with the 22" size. Again, I created a secret pocket that isn't all that secret if I wear it reversed. It's the same fabric I used for the Roadtrip Slippers, and the white twill again. Appropriate for a trip to the sunny south again. I struggled a bit with getting the brim on, I think I just wasn't accurate enough though I had tried.
 Cute, eh?

I feel very shaded in this hat! The brim might be a bit longer than my daughter's bucket hat. This did get her approval. In an informal poll on my Facebook page, it also got good comments. I worry about white on the inside though! The brim is also the easiest to wear while sitting in a high back chair (cough lounger).

Last up is the Patterns for Pirates "Set Sail" hat. I really wanted to like this one! And I do, but I had issues. I was really digging in the stash for this. The pink and black fabric is from a dress I made Lucy eons ago. The black fabric is from some fabric from my MIL, which I used to make Lucy a pair of shorts. Don't know if I ever blogged those. I was whipping out shorts left and right for the girls the past couple years.
I'm told black isn't suitable for a sunhat. 

 Although it's reversible, I had issues with getting the brim on and the seams of the crown don't really line up exactly from one side to the other. So it feels a bit skewed when I wear it. I made the 4" brim
which is really generous--it was 4 1/4" after finished. Depending on how stiff you interface it, it is not a sitting in a chair hat. I like this design though, and can see maybe making the side or the top panel in a mesh of some sorts. I did not follow the directions to cut the brim as a full circle on folded material. I copied the 1/4 brim piece so I had a half brim and cut that on the fold. I figured if I needed to conserve fabric, I can do seams at the 1/2 way points on the brim. Also, if you want it to tilt down a bit, you need to cut a wedge out. The Melly Sews tutorial talks about this, and I did it with that one. This P4P one doesn't do that which gives it a floppier straight out look. I really wish this one had an oval body though. Just to make me happy LOL

The thing with me and hats though...even if they feel loose enough, I can still feel them for awhile after taking off. I'm just really tactile sensitive.

Rob and I went to the fabric store and picked out more fabric. I'm not sure yet what pattern I'll do. Maybe another Set Sail in the new fabric which is lighter coloured. Packing hats is never easy, so I want it to be as versatile as possible!