Thursday, September 28, 2017


This is along the same theme as the last post. No, not red t-shirts on teen boys. Last Christmas I asked what my niece might like that's handcrafted. Her mom suggested a poncho, perhaps in black. Not too fancy, but not too casual.

Christmas  came, and I was so busy with custom orders and life I didn't get to it. I thought I would do it for her birthday in late May. Again, I was quite busy. I did some swatching though, but her birthday passed. We were all going to a cottage at the end of July, so I thought maybe it could be a little thank you gift for inviting us.

I got to swatching. I knew she wanted it lightweight, but warm. I had only my SK155 out. I could have turned the table around and got the Memomatic 327 out, but that seemed like too much work. I pulled some black "Peruvian Baby Lace Merino" (from back in the day they had a website and yarns to rival KnitPicks). One and two strands felt too fine. Three strands felt too thick. I explored punch lace, but only one card of the basic SK155 set works for punch thread (aka thread lace). Then I was at Michaels' for something else and found this black velvety chenille called Loops & Thread "Shellie". This would be perfect together. The chenille for the bulk and texture, and the Baby Lace for the warmth. I swatched some more.

Suddenly, my machine wasn't working right. WTF. Everything was set right.  I checked every last detail of the settings. It all looked right underneath the carriage too. It worked from left to right, but not right to left. Then the stitch selector jammed again and I knew I had to take it apart.

I couldn't see anything immediately, but then felt a thunk and it released, and I knew what had finally happened.

 The left lower J pusher has snapped off. It's what gave me so much trouble before. It controls the tuck setting, going right to left. It had gotten bent and I straightened it, but I knew metal fatigue would happen at some point.
Can you see it better when I hold the upper lever out of the way? I did find the tiny piece, but I doubt it could be welded back on. Oh well, I can still tuck left to right!

I decided on one strand Baby Lace and one strand Shellie. And, the one card that would work on the SK155. By now, I was really wishing I had just got the 327 out.

The actual knitting is pretty easy, though of course, I had those days where yarn got tangled, caught in brushes, broke unexpectedly, etc. But it got done, and I sewed it together. I made it as a long rectangle, then pulled one end around to the side perpendicular to the other end, and sewed it together. This creates a loop with a pointed section. So it can be worn many ways. I left the working in the ends and the crochet borders until we were at the cottage. I had to block it still. There was an iron at the cottage, and an ironing board. I didn't want to lug that down to my room, so I steamed it on my floor! It worked. I didn't get any good photos, but Megan is interested in photos, so I sent her and Nya off to get photos and I told her to get  some detailed shots too.

 She's wearing a shirt with planets on underneath. Creates an interesting effect.

I did a simple scallop around the edge, after two rows of HDC (I think), in just the Shellie.

Maybe it's something about the Mainwaring family that makes them make these faces when I take photos of them in my handmades?

Yarn In: 2242gr
Yarn Out:  125gr + 2916gr=3041gr
Balance: 799gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $57.30/271 days = $0.21 per day 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ask, and You Shall Receive

One day this August, my son says, randomly, "You could make me more shirts." OMG. Of course. Funny, I had just bought some more fabric. Two days later, I present to him this red w/ yellow stripes t shirt! And he says "I didn't mean, like, right now. Just, in general". LOL.

This is a very stretchy knit. It's heavy, but not really thick. It's called "Geneva Knit". Regular price was $12/m but it was 66% off. I got about 2.7m. Once again it's Melly Sews' free pattern for adult t-shirt. I did lower the front neck a smidge.

I swear he likes it. This is his excited face :)

Monday, September 18, 2017

I Needed This

During those last two dresses, I needed some success. Something that was an ace-in-the-hole. I ended up with three aces!

Remember these pants that I wasn't allowed to wear out of the house?
They started feeling too loose, and they were too long (and I had used the top hem from the sheet for the hem, so shortening them wasn't much of an option). I decided to make shorts! They're not quite the flowy floral gym shorts that I'm told are the style now, but oh well. They're floral. And pink. And I added a pocket!!

 I believe I took the waistband off and shortened the rise, took in the hips and the waist, added the pocket.
And I love them. LOVE them. And now they're a bit too loose,  but I don't have time to take them in more. I am hoping to find time to make another pair for our cruise in ...16 days.

I also wanted to make a dress using that top pattern.   I had just made a blue one (not blogged yet) and loved it.

It got off to a rough start. When I got the fabric cut, I wasn't thinking too much about the width, just the length. I had made other dresses out of 1.5m of fabric, so I went with that. Put my first piece down and cut it out, and then went....ummm...the remainder looks a little small...

 I thought maybe I could use that bright orange-salmon lace for the sleeves. Some people voted yes, some voted no way. I went with no way and went with the backup plan of turning it into a pillowcase dress. I also had to piece the back piece again. I didn't try to match the pattern at all. And the back pieces are upside down compared to the front piece. Don't tell anyone.

Then I thought, gee, maybe the armholes might be a little low. I also wanted to do a side seam pocket, but forgot when I serged the side seams. I did add a patch pocket on the front for my ship card.

 These are all the photos I got. It's a rayon. I wanted something bright so that my husband could easily spot me on the cruise (he's got low vision). I also thought it would be nice as a bathing suit cover up. I found out one of my bras has straps that can convert to racerback, though at the front they still showed. I did take it in under the arms a bit to reduce the ease that was in the pattern because there was supposed to be sleeves.
 We went as a family to tour Rob and my alma mater, Queen's University. Hugh has shown some interest in going there next year.  I had a narrow peach glitter ribbon through the neck, and a wide turquoise ribbon around the waist, though there were mixed reviews on that. Oh man, my bra is really showing in this photo. Must pack the double sided tape. And a strapless bra.
That's a white shrug I made on my knitting machine eons ago. It's been very handy, especially in the truck because Rob loves the A/C on full. The weather was really odd that day. Hot and humid, then a downpour/thunderstorm. Then hot and sunny and humid. Then suddenly more rain. We were able to time our lunch and tour and dinner so that somehow, we were inside during the rain. Well, except for when Rob went to pay it for parking. It suddenly opened up on him!

After I finished this, I thought it might be interesting to see what Google can tell me about pillowcase dresses for adults. I came across a great tutorial from Melly Sews, who is a fellow dress lover. She makes some great points, all of which I  thankfully had followed when I made this dress without even knowing! Flowy fabric? Check. Side shaping? Check. Shorter length? Check. Phew. I do think that no armhole shaping is probably needed, but it does reduce how much fabric you have to gather up over the neck tie.

And then...I found it. The Ultimate Dress. You know those "convertible" dresses, AKA "infinity" dresses? Wear it 100 different ways? I found one based on the pillow case dress!! I couldn't find any tutorial though! I stared at the pictures and watched the video relentlessly. And I made my own! But I have no pictures yet since it was late night when I tried it on and summer decided to leave again, so I haven't worn it again! But on the cruise, I can wear it every day, a different way! LOL. I think people might think my luggage got lost. I'll stand out because of the fabric I used. You'll have to wait to see!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Attempt

I have a pink floral shift dress that I wear a lot. It's got good cleavage coverage, doesn't fly up, is cool to wear. The kindergarten girls often compliment it. I'm not that excited when I see it in pictures though.
Okay, I guess I don't have too many pictures of myself in it. This was on our family cruise, Jan 2014 (there's only about 4 pictures of me from the entire cruise, and at least two of those were selfies). I don't know if just the fact I'm surrounded by very tall people makes me feel even more short, or what. I know a shift dress (especially in woven) is probably not the most flattering shape. It fits at the bust and then hangs. But that's also what makes it comfy, LOL! When showing my girls the doomed bright pink dress of the last post, we realized that because the dress isn't skintight, then that means I must be smaller than the dress, so although you can't tell my exact shape, at least a smart person would realize I'm not as big as the dress. If that makes sense?

I want to replicate this dress, partly because it's getting a small wear hole behind where the tie rubs as it goes around my waist. It's not in the seam. And it's an easy dress to wear.

I picked up this polyester homemade beauty at Value Village for $7.99 quite a while ago. Megan thought she might like a romper but that idea seems to have past.  I picked off the top portion and took out the side seams. Lots of fabric. Rather than try to copy this dress, I opted for the sleeveless shift dress from the same book, "Dresses and Skirts for First Time Sewers" . I cut a size four. For some reason I didn't think to do a FBA. The sizing is kind of generous. I think I might have flared the skirt out a bit to just use up the fabric, and because swing dresses are in.  I sewed it together and tried it on before doing the trim.

It was too wide at the shoulders/armholes. The neck felt very high, although it'd lose some with the trim. I trimmed the armholes a bit and put on some plain black bias binding for the hidden trim at the neck and armholes.

 I don't know what happened, but there is weird warping along the neckline/armhole (it's not really a strap, but that narrow area). I tried pressing, but did I meant the dress is polyester?

 Can you see it? It just wasn't laying flat. And when I tried it on, I was unhappy. Not just that, but it was clearly still too wide at the upper back and pulled on my arms.

My son was finally ready to do his written driver's test for his learner's permit. I took this along and unpicked all the bias binding while we waited. And then I knitted for another two hours while we waited.

I decided to recut the neck and armholes with the size 3 lines. I didn't want to pick out all the serging though. So I tried the best I could to lay it on the pattern and trace the lines. I carefully resewed all the bias binding, trying to keep the fabric straight to the sides. It was much better, but there was still a bit of wonkiness that the iron couldn't get rid of.

Much better. I liked it, but I didn't love it. And I only want things I love now. The neckline felt like it was pressing on my throat, even though you can clearly see it's not. It did keep shifting back on my shoulders.  Plus, it's polyester. So, it's slippery, and on our cruise, it will also be hot.
 Am I really that wide? It felt too wide on my upper arms still. There are five sizes, and this is the middle size. See what I mean about generous? I probably could have done the size 2 and done a FBA.

See how it shifted back and is up at my neck? Even though it's lightweight polyester, it really bothered my throat!  Sorry for the dark, uncropped pictures. The pictures up above showing the warping around the neck are much better to show the true colours.

So, after taking these photos, I rolled it up and put it in the donation bag. Someone else will love it hopefully.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

They Aren't All Hits

Just before the end of August, my sewing ability apparently, suddenly, tanked. I had some issues with something I was working on (don't even remember what that was). I started something new. From THIS book, I was going to make the tunic dress. I searched and searched online, and but could not find any real life info about the dress. I like Christine Haynes' patterns on her website and the designs seemed similar, so I thought I was safe. It's an easy pattern. For beginners.

I picked out this crinkle gauze that was on the heavier side. Bright fuschia. I draped it from my bust and thought it seemed okay. I wasn't sure on the sizing, but went with a size "4" (I think) because I didn't want the neck too big and there is apparently a lot of ease (but no finished measurements; I had to do that myself). I used the same fabric for the yoke/neckline. Tried it on.


I felt like a giant pink marshmallow. Or in some strange girls' choir. Or maybe at a graduation for a modern all girls' school.  There was also something not right about the yoke, and I thought maybe doing it in a contrast fabric would help. It's two layers and it felt really, really thick, so perhaps a thinner fabric would work.
I got a vintage tracing wheel in a bag of sewing odds and ends at Value Village. At half off day!

I cut a new yoke from the same fabric as these floral pants. It wouldn't lay flat. I unpicked and basted it in differently. Finally, just wanting to be done, I serged the yoke in. Then went to watch TV and pick out the basting stitches.

And found that the yoke had gotten bunched in the stitching on the underside.

And this:

 Yeah. Aint no recovering from that. Don't know if the serger did it, or if I did it while slicing out the basting stitches. It was the final nail in the coffin.

Sometimes a project just doesn't work. The fabric was really too thick for a drapey dress (to double as a bathing suit cover up on our cruise). The dress design is probably fine, particularly if you're not large busted. I don't know why the yoke wasn't working for me the second time. And I didn't really care for it. I should have made the sheath, which was also in my plan. The pink fabric will still be usuable for trims or bags, or something small. I don't know where it came from, so I don't feel too bad. I'm just bummed about the lost time and thread more than anything LOL! And all the printer paper to print the pattern!!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Skater Girl

My youngest, Megan, is one of those kids that wants to do everything. Horseback riding, cadets, skating, swimming, rock climbing, pottery, archery... she really wanted to  learn to skateboard at one point...Figure skating is her main thing, but she won't let me sew for her (she's coming around, after seeing the prices of skating dresses). So she asked for a "simple" dress, similar to a RTW one she has, for just "hanging out" in over the summer. Even though she doesn't "hang out" in the one she has.

I used her t-shirt pattern for the top, and traced the skirt of her RTW dress for the skirt. I thought I added length, but apparently not. She wanted a strappy back, like the RTW one, but I'm not there yet. But still wanting to do some learning, I went with a deep scoop on the back, and the "cold shoulder" look.

When it came time to band the neck, the scoop didn't seem right. So I turned it into a V back. I played with some ideas of how to do the band like I normally do without having to do a real v neck because I hadn't done that yet. Gave up, followed a tutorial for a real v neck, and it wasn't hard at all although I didn't get it quite lined up.

For the sleeves, I used THIS tutorial. I didn't add any width, and I couldn't use the notches to line up the cut because the sleeve is cut flat, not on the fold. I was worried that there wouldn't be enough of a gap, but it seems perfect. I folded the opening in, instead of banding it. I had to do some flubbing where the sleeve joins, but it's not really noticeable.

We went for a family week at a cottage, and wouldn't you know it....her cousin also had a cold shoulder skater girl dress!!  That's almost as good of a compliment as when a stranger says they like your item and they don't know you made it :)
 Nothing better than getting validated by your stylish 11 year old niece LOL!

Friday, September 01, 2017


...but more blue! It's a blue summer!

When I made my pajama set I didn't really think about how to turn them into shorts, I just picked a spot on the leg and cut across. I ended up with the back leg and the front leg being different lengths. About a week after doing that, I came across a tutorial on how to properly do it. It never crossed my mind to look for a tutorial. I wanted to make "real" shorts and considered using my own pants pattern, but then decided to try a "real" pattern. I know in the sewing (and knitting) world, there is a push to move from published patterns to your own slopers/blocks/patterns, but since I'm still learning techniques and want to challenge myself a little, sometimes a published pattern is the way to go. And I really wanted to try a zipper fly on something that wouldn't have too much time or material commitment.

So I dug out Kwik Sew 3614, which I bought years ago because I read it has a good tutorial for doing a zipper fly. So I was also trying to ease my guilt of buying patterns that I don't use!

I laid out my pants pattern over top and went "Mmmm...?"

According to the measurements, I needed XL for my waist and L for my hips, but I was shocked at the width of the upper thigh. Then I thought about it and realized that with pants, you don't want extra fabric at the upper thigh because it will twist, bunch, rub, flap, etc. But with shorts, unless you're Daisy Duke or Lance Armstrong, you don't want skin tight shorts. Okay. Let's move on. That picture was taken in late April. I got out some fabric and made my choice, pre-washed it, and... side-tracked by a ton of other stuff and the fact the weather was terrible and I didn't need shorts yet anyway.

 So, the above picture comparing my pants to the pattern was late April. This picture is mid-July. Yeah.
I didn't worry about matching stripes. I figured there were enough stripes and these aren't going to work anyway, right? I was more concerned about fitting in all the pieces with the grain the proper way. Not having grain lines on my DIY pants, I wondered if I hadn't done them right and that was causing some of the fit issues. I cut the pattern for a Large, but shortened the rise. I bought a large easel pad of graph paper and it's awesome, though it seems the squares are slightly more rectangle (only noticed because I tried using a piece I cut off to extend another piece and it didn't match up).
 The fly. It was going well, but one step was stumping me--the inside fly flap and the description of folding over as much as you can--I seemed to be able to fold it over entirely. It all worked out though. The inside flap seems a little narrow though, doesn't it?
 I think this was to show the inside of the zipper. If not, then I have no clue.  I did have some issues with the waistband--there's four pieces all the same (but cut with  the fabric mirrored) and you interface "a pair".  I wasn't sure if that meant two identical, or two mirrored? I just went  for it and figured as long as the interfacing ends up going all the way around my waist, it's all fine. The flappy bit overlapping at the fly was tricky, but since I don't tuck in my shirts, I'm okay.

I finished up and had to go buy the "hook and eye" sets, which were actually bars and eyes. Why "eyes"? Neither part looks like an eye. I needed two sets and it came as three sets. However, I recently declared my husband's dress pants too ratty, and there's a set or two on them! Score! And then, in the bags of random stuff I got recently at Value Village, there were more!! I'm all set for a couple more pairs of shorts. Or pants, since we never had summer.

I had issues trying to sew the hooks and bars on. There were no placement guides, just the sketch. So, I laid it flat, and sewed it so they lined up. Well, on me, they pulled. The waist was a bit high compared to the pictures, and I think that meant the waistband was a bit tight since it wasn't at my narrowest point. The hips are fine. I need the rise a bit shorter which will mean the band will be even tighter since the rise is shortened through the zipper area. So how do I make the waist bigger but not the hips? I guess I will have to widen the hips?
 Totally mom shorts in the back. I love how the striping goes on the waistband. The fit is good around my bum. I wonder too if it's the stiffer hand of this fabric and the fact they're shorts, so no fabric to really droop.

I like the length, even if they're mom shorts. At least I didn't make the longer version!

I wore them a couple times and then when we were away for the week, the bars loosened and pulled away. I didn't have a sewing kit with me, and I haven't gotten to it yet. I've barely worn shorts this summer. Capris or lightweight long pants mostly.