Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sewing for Sons

I don't think I had ever sewn anything for my son. He was a picky child and my skills weren't all that great. Wait. I did sew him pajamas, making every mistake possible like not noticing it was one way fabric and that the legs needed to be reversed. Other than that, I don't think I did anything more for him.

One day, this past May, he came to me and said I had to do laundry because he's out of clean shirts. What?! His drawer is full. Apparently none of those fit. I decided rather than do laundry, I would sew him a shirt. Why not? I had this awesome blue striped fabric! Perfect.

I picked Melly Sews' Man's T-Shirt. It was free, though I see a $2 button there. Maybe it's free only if you get her newsletter. Which has been quite interesting, so I don't mind. There's not a lot of free men's patterns out there.

It went together fine, though I could not get the neckband to look nice using her directions, so I gave up and did it the way I'd been doing the other t-shirts (as a band instead of binding).  I did twin needle hemming though some of it came undone and I had to fix it up. I did have a problem with the hem. Even though the stripes lined up at the sides, the stripes spiralled, so the hem...I couldn't just follow a line of blue. He hasn't complained.

He seems to love it. It's lightweight, casual, and reverse of another shirt he has.
He didn't want to appear on my blog LOL.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Owl Cocoon

Sometimes I get an order and I immediately groan. Usually it's for something trendy and crocheted. Such was this order. I had tried this "crocodile stitch" twice before. The first time was when these bootees were all the rage. I just could not get the instructions. Not much defeats me, but that did. So I've had this crankiness towards this stitch ever since. Then, last winter, these gloves were all the rage. So I gave it another go, and this time figured it out. I didn't actually end up making anything though. It really is a neat stitch, but not really all that fast for crochet, and it EATS yarn.

So then I got an inquiry from a previous client, about an owl cocoon. It wasn't urgent (she sent me the message in early January and the baby was due late May, and she wanted more like a 3 month size). I had seen requests for these in the Handmade groups I'm in, but the thought of all that crocodile stitch...and the eyes, and the first thought was "no way".  But I knew that the spring/summer is a slow period and I really shouldn't turn down any orders I'm capable of doing.

The first key to making this economical (ie--have some profit), is using yarn I already have. I had NO idea how much yarn I would need. I really didn't seem to have much for boyish colours, unless I wanted to do actual stripes. No thanks. I was looking around my "yarn store", and caught a glimpse of this large, messy ball of James Brett Marble Chunky. I had picked it up because a) I love this yarn, and b) I had previously made a blanket and it really wasn't big enough so I wanted to re-work it. I figured an actual order comes before a "some day" project.

I got swatching. The first thing I knew was that I wanted the scales/feathers to be only on the front. Why make a baby lay on those? The stitch is created by making a row of V stitch double crochets, then creating the feathers on the posts of the V stitch. So on the back of the row, I did plain double crochets, not the V stitches. Then, when I came around with the feather row, I worked the back in single crochet. The feathers plumped up the row below so I couldn't just slip stitch across. And I find it hard to work the next row into slip stitches. I might have even done hdc.
I gradually increased the width as I went up.
I might have adjusted the pattern to be 3DC, 1 HDC, 2 SC, 1 HDC, 3 DC. I remember swatching different combos to see if I could get a better point on the feathers. I might be able to zoom in on the photos to take another look.

The end result is adorable. There were a couple places in the yarn where I cut out the pale beige sections. I ended up needed to rip back some of that blanket I had planned to enlarge. Looking at the photos, I could have made it a row or two smaller, and a newborn size would fit with one ball. Since I had cracked open the blanket, I decided to add a hat. Some of the inspiration photos she sent included a hat, but she didn't mention it in her messages. So I created my own.

The fun thing with this cocoon...if you tuck the "head" part in, you can wear it like a Marge Simpson wig!! I had tried it on when I was about half way up and the kids were really fearful that I was actually creating a hat....

Yarn In: 1642gr
Yarn Out: 293gr + 1902gr= 2195gr
Balance: 553gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $40.73/171 days = $0.24per day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Utility Sewing

I do a lot of utility sewing. Fixing backpacks, mending crappy made store bought clothing, etc. Sometimes I get to make something non-clothing but still utilitarian. Like these hair towels. I have had one for years, and the button recently broke in half. I was still using it, but it was clear I needed a new one. I knew it would be easy to sew, but where to get the fabric? I buy microfiber cloths for cleaning, but they aren't big enough.

I was browsing through Value Village, and this brand new microfiber "towel" caught my eye. Sure, it's bright pink. But it was plenty big, and only $2.99. Bingo!

I got to work. One I just serged the edge, the other one used the sides of the towel. The serged edge one is a little more homemade, but I don't care. I used plain white snaps because I didn't want to use my more expensive engraved snaps that would have actually matched.

I still have plenty of the fabric left, at least enough for one more, maybe two. They work very well. As I was putting away the leftover fabric I saw the tag. It's labelled as a "yoga towel" which was interesting because we had been taking a beginner yoga course and the teacher suggested going to Winners to get a yoga towel to put on the mat to stop slipping. I can only guess how much they are at Winners!! Even if I pay $15 for one, and can get 3 hair towels, that's still cheaper than buying them new. Just went off googling....yikes, they're pricey. The one I bought was very thin, just like the microfiber cleaning clothes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Promised, and Delivered

I let my youngest, Megan, tag along on a trip to Fabricland. We were looking for many things, including potential bathing suit fabric. Right below the bathing suit fabrics was this bolt of teal athletic fabric. Not as thin or "mesh" like as the stuff I had bought previously for diapers, but it still looked nice. I told her that I would be buying the membership card in a couple weeks and then I'd be able to get the fabric after that. I'm sure she kind of thought it would never happen. Often we put things off with her, in the hopes that she'll forget about it.

Well, I did get the fabric, and decided to make the New Look 6735 t shirt for her. She doesn't yet have an adult figure, but her measurements are still a bit on the larger size. I opted for a cheater SBA. I angled the front piece on the fold, so the neckline would be smaller, which in turn meant the hip area was bigger. Since I had had a bit of floppyness around the neck, I hoped this would help too.

I could not determine which direction the fabric should go. It just didn't seem to have much stretch in either direction. In the end, I think I got it wrong. This is a solid shirt.

 The front isn't too bad, but the back...
 Talk about pooling. There is so much extra length in the centre back. I don't know how to fix that yet.  Her head looks like it's glowing because she is wearing a stretchy headband made from reflective fabric. I think it's awesome. I'm not sure where she got it.

She then asked for old socks. Why? To make an easy, DIY, no-sew armband to hold her iPod. C'mon Megan, we can do better than an old sock! We wanted it really stretchy, so I pulled out this bathing suit fabric, which just happened to match her new work out shirt (she has been going to a weekly teen class at the town gym), as well as her iPod (which sadly, is unreliable).
 I was thinking it would be like a tiny infinity scarf, folded over, and top stitched for the slot. The first attempt, I couldn't seem to wrap my head around it. I don't know if I stitched the wrong sides, or just didn't carry the idea all the way through, but I couldn't figure it out. So I slowed down, and tried again. It boggled my mind, but then suddenly, there it was! She loves it.
Just realized I haven't blogged about the first t shirt I made her from this pattern, as a sort of muslin. Which really didn't make any difference since this fabric is so different.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Getting Creative

I was so impressed with the first two New Look 6735 that I decided to get a little creative. Remember back when I used to babywear? I don't think I have any photos of this pouch sling, since I used it for only a short time. It was just too stretchy for a growing infant and I moved on to ring slings. I loved the wild print and knew it had to become something else. It only took 11 years. Yikes. I carefully unstitched the seams to maximize the width of the fabric. I held it up to me. It seemed like it would be wide enough.

I laid down the pattern pieces. Nope. Not going to work. The back was fine, but I didn't have enough to also put a seam on the centre front.

I thought about colour blocking. I wanted side panels. Colour blocking is popular, that shouldn't be hard to find info on. Everything I found was about horizontal blocking. I wanted vertical. In detail, I wanted to eliminate the side seam and use a wide side panel in a different fabric. Or, move the side seams inwards so they seamed to the panel, which had no centre seam.

I could not find anything on this. I did find some dresses with colour blocking on the sides, but they all had side seams still. I finally gave up and admitted I needed to have side seams. If the shirt didn't have any shaping, it would have been very easy to just use a side panel. But I couldn't work out the different curves.

I used some white wicking fabric from the cloth diaper sewing days. Nice and light.

I had a horrible problem with the back neck stretching out of shape and not recovering. It's also possible the pattern got shifted when I was cutting, I guess. I unstitched the neckband twice and took it in. It's still a little loose back there. Just got to wear my hair down!
Photo is before I adjusted the neck at all.
There is some rippling along the side seams. I probably did not adjust the feed dog setting.

I love the shirt as much as I loved the sling. The kids think it's a bit weird, but over all the shirt is okay, they say. Next time, I will make the side panels even bigger, so it looks more intentional. Maybe even try a princess seam...

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Recently my mother gave me a pair of flannel pajama pants that had side seam pockets. Holy cow, I did not know I needed flannel pajama pants with side seam pockets! No wonder people wear them to Wal-Mart. But the weather was warming up, so what else to do? Make pajama shorts with side seam pockets and matching top! I haven't had matching pajamas since my last kid was born.

I found a pink bedsheet (Izod) that I had used for an awesome dress for Megan many years ago. She still mentions that dress. I still want one in my size. I also had a large piece of pink flannel I had bought even longer ago, for making diapers. Matching, without matching.

Of course, when you're using thrifted fabric, or leftovers, pattern layout can get interesting.

 Plus, I needed a waistband for my shorts, because I was using my self-drafted pants pattern rather than the simple foldover casing on every pair of pajama pants/shorts pattern out there.

 When I chose the shorts length, I, um, just picked a length and cut across. Apparently, this is not how you do it. The side seam and the inner seam were different lengths. So they ended up shorter than I planned, but they're actually not short at all. The elastic I used is too "soft" and I had to tighten it up. I didn't want them tight, but I'd prefer to not have them fall down. I didn't use a drawstring like the pants, and the pocket facings and pocket bag are all one piece (or two pieces, one for front and one for back. I don't remember). This was much faster than the blue pants with a separate pocket bag. I didn't do as much topstitching either, and not even the fake fly. I do wish I had kept the fake fly. It really ups this from "make your own pajamas shorts" to "I can sew a fake fly on pajamas if I want to".  For the top I just zig zagged the hems. Already I've had to tie off threads where they broke and should re-hem this before we go to a family reunion cottage week vacation this summer.
Again, no top stitching around the neck. I've realized though that the neck hole is big enough that I could probably do a simple straight stitch, either in the ditch or just off. No fussing with the twin needles. There is a bit of that front drooping of the neckband. I don't know if I'm just kind of flat there or if the neckbands are too loose. The shirt is 100% cotton so the stretch and recovery isn't the greatest. This picture was supposed to show my friends that I really don't look as good as the other selfies I posted that use the "beautification" filter. They say my skin is killer. Not bad for 46!

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Start of the Epidemic

In late March, early April, I started sewing again. I've shown a few tops already, but it was this next top that really started this epidemic I'm suffering from right now. I have been a non-stop sewing crazy lady and am soooo behind in photographing and blogging about it! I'm going to start with this one, even though I don't have good pictures. I just keep wearing it (and getting it dirty) that I just never seem to have a chance to get a photo. Or, it's one of the many rainy days we've had lately.

It's New Look 6735, and is one of the "*easy" patterns. Yeah, I've been duped by that before. But this one really IS easy, especially if you just trust the pattern and don't over think it. Which is so hard for me to do. Starting with the size. My upper bust is 40" (ooohhh, that's a bit bigger than it used to be), which is size 18, and my full bust is 42" which is a size 20. But I wear a DD cup. And my shoulders are narrow. What size to make?! I didn't want to do a FBA on a knit t shirt (there is no ease at the bust).

I cut a 20 in the body (I might have even graded it out more as it goes down, I think I need a 22 for my waist and an 18 for my hips. Sigh) and 18 from the bottom of the armholes upwards. I used this awesome 100% cotton sheet I picked up at Value Village years ago. I think it's only a twin sheet and was probably $5.99 or so. It's from Wal-Mart originally, so I hope no one sees me and recognizes it as a bedsheet! LOL. There is a back seam, which breaks up the pattern. It annoys my husband, but I can't see it, so who cares.

Yes. A bathroom selfie. I've been busy.

I basted it all together first. Did I? It seems forever ago. I must have. It went together quite well. I didn't follow the instructions, but did it the flat method (sew shoulders, sew sleeve to armhole, sew body and sleeve seam in one pass). There is a section on the front at the bust that you're supposed to do a gather stitch and ease to the back. I just changed the feed dog ratio on the serger and stretched it a bit. I did the neckband as the instructions said, though I serged it to the top. I did not topstitch the seam allowance of the neckband down, since the shirt I was wearing that day didn't have it. I did press it down, but if I let it go too long in the dryer it will flip up. I finished the hems with the twin needle. However, I didn't have it close enough to the edge of the seam allowance, and it tends to fold over the hem. Not a problem at the bottom of the body, but on the sleeves, it is really close to the edge.

I don't feel as fat as I look in that picture when I wear it. Don't know what's wrong with that picture except that it's a bathroom selfie.  I do have a sideview, but it's just as unflattering. Must have been bloated that day and wearing my worst bra. Must get better pictures and better bra.

I love this shirt. Which is why I made a couple more, in other fabric. This one goes with the blue pants I made, and my bright green jeans, my grey yoga capris, and if I can ever find some grey fabric, my new grey pants.