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! 

Friday, July 12, 2019


Last year, everywhere I went on the internet, I saw:

I have documented here my desire for some flowy, floral pants. Not necessarily this type of floral. Don't these look comfy? They were in ads, in Facebook groups, everywhere. I heard they were the "Portlander Pants". I never bought the pattern though because 1) I have so many patterns 2) I don't have much experience buying this type of fabric online and 3) It could easily cost $60+ if I were to buy the fabric online! Yikes! So they stayed at the back of my mind.

Late last year(?), Sinclair Patterns came out with the Sunset Loungers pattern. I'm part of their FB group and it was offered free for a while when it was released. Okay, step 1 done.

The community band I'm in was doing their spring concerts. For one, we didn't need to dress up but my black pants were just too heavy. So I tried on a couple black skirts/skorts I have. Nothing fit right! I know I've been naughty with my eating this spring, but this was still a bit of a surprise since I was still wearing a lot of other clothes! Plus, these skirts were store bought, and not built for me. Why should they fit right? We have a "Music in the Park" night coming up and it's hard to dress for. Often it's quite warm when we're setting up and starting, but then when the sun sets, it's much cooler. I decided I needed some black, flowy, knit pants. Eleven or so years ago I finally caved and bought some black yoga pants and discovered how comfortable they were and how they could be dressed up. I've come to realize I'm not a leggings girl. I need a bit of width at the ankle to balance my upper half. Those yoga pants aren't black anymore (in the past, I have dyed them), and the back seam is quite thin now. It's time to make my own!

I went to FabricLand with the intent of finding a lightweight black knit. Shouldn't be too hard, right? I really wanted something with a lot of natural fibre. I did have some heavier ponte leftover from THIS dress, but it's so heavy and very similar to the black pants I already have. After going through Fabricland I found some lightweight black knit. There was no fiber content listed. It had stretch, it was soft, it seemed like it would work. There wasn't a whole lot of it, but I'm short so I crossed my fingers.

OMG.  I want to marry these pants.

I tried something new. I asked my husband to "take a picture of these pants". I'm surprised he didn't get down on his knees to take the picture. I noticed he angled the phone rather low. So I suggested that he could include me in the photo too. 

I think I was trying to show how high the waistband comes. I did the yoga waistband. I was using the petite sized patterns, and it still came so high! 
In the back, because the fabric doesn't have to travel over curves, it came up even higher, but it had slid down in this photo. The first time I wore the pants, I could see my underwear print. So this time I tried a thong. Well, I have pants wedgie. Not good either. I think I might make a few pairs of boy shorts. I don't want anything too long though because I want to keep the feeling of wearing nothing. 

I folded the waistband over, and it's pretty much perfect. The drawstring now comes out between the layers though. That's okay. Next pair, I might shorten the waistband, contouring it so it's not as wide at the back. I might add some power mesh/net across the front. Either in the waistband or the pants. I don't know which. Maybe I'll lower the rise a bit but then the pockets need adjusting. 
I did metal eyelets for the drawstrings. I tested them, and saw I needed two layers of interfacing. However, after a couple days, one started to pull out. You could see the interfacing, so I coloured that with a laundry Sharpie, and then put some nail glue (I'm out of Fraycheck) around it. 

I want more of these pants. Like, now! Heavier ones, patterned ones, maybe even shorts? I haven't had knit shorts in a super long time because I didn't like the lack of structure over the belly. But with sewing my own (and my own underwear), I can change that! I think my next pair will be grey. I still have more of the grey from THESE pants. Probably enough for a pair. This time they won't have droopy butt. I also have a heavier grey that I bought but it turns out it had no stretch. It's very similar to pants Rob has and I thought I might make him some...but he can buy his own. LOL. 


Friday, July 05, 2019

THE Dress

Every once in awhile, the average sewist wants/should tackle something a bit beyond their comfort zone. When I found this fabric at Value Village, I immediately pictured a dress with full skirt.

It's 80% rayon, 20% linen. I would go back to what I had tried in my first few dresses--lining, fitting, precision---before I had the skills and knowledge to really accomplish it.

I was disappointed after I washed it. It seemed to develop dark streaks.
It's like something washed out of the fabric and left short streaks. And I noticed this little flub (right of centre, towards the lower half) after sewing together.

 As documented earlier, I started the muslin. The pattern only went up to a 16, which, sadly, this spring was not even large enough for my upper bust. However, I still have a 16 frame, so I went with that and did the FBA.
 The neckline needed adjusting. I changed this, and the straps, and tweaked things a bit. It wasn't lined, but it seemed good. Though I had some pouffyness above the bust, I thought taking it in a bit as I sewed would be the easiest answer.
Then I got busy. Finally I realized I needed to get this done so I could wear it to Megan's grade 8 grad, which was going to be about a week earlier than it normally is!
 I made my own piping with leftover navy from Megan's Moxie shorts. Oh yeah, need to blog those. I used Handicrafter cotton yarn. I measured off what I thought I'd need ("3 packages of piping" was all the pattern said), wound it into a little skein, and threw it in with my laundry (in a mesh bag!). New skill--piping! I sewed it together and then the instructions say to turn right side out through a shoulder. Ummmm. The shoulders were already seamed. I could not figure it out and it got stuck. I watched a video and she took a safety pin at a lower edge and fed it through, and bingo!
 Not sure what this was to show. Maybe that my lining seemed too small?  I had a lot of issues. You need to baste the lining to the bodice and I don't think I did it carefully enough and it wasn't lining up and the dress looked more padded than lined. I redid it and it's much better, but still not like the pattern picture.
 Sure doesn't look very fitted here.
 The bodice seemed to droop a bit over the waist. Don't know if that happened because of the heat, or not getting things lined up, or if the mostly rayon fabric grew during handling. I'm going with the last one because that would also explain why the lining didn't line up. Also, the fabric wasn't wide enough to do the skirt front in one piece! There's a seam hiding in there.
 A decent job on the zipper. I don't understand the lapped part though. I don't see how it can smoothly lap over when it's the same as the seam allowance. Hard to explain. But I watched some videos and they all were the same, so I guess you just fudge the bottom.
 I couldn't seem to find any of my hook and eyes so I rushed out to buy some, but then didn't get a chance to sew it on before the grad.
 I wasn't following the hem piping instructions. It sounded to me that the piping strip would be showing. I saw tutorials that have you cut a facing and basically you sandwich the piping like doing the bodice piping, then sew the top of the facing down. I didn't want to cut more fabric. So while I was getting the hook and eye (I had to make an earlier trip there for a zipper. I was not very well organized this time), I looked at hem tape and bias bianding. I found some very basic instructions on how to do it but I couldn't quite wrap my head around it until doing it. They had wide bias tape in navy which was a great match to the piping. I laid it on, figured out how it should be sewed, and then promptly did it wrong.
I hand stitched the top of the bias tape to the dress, using very tiny stitches, widely spaced. Not visible on the right side at all. I like the additional weight this adds to the very light fabric, and how clean it looks from the inside. Not that anyone really could see the inside hem, but you know, sometimes when you sit, it shows, or if you bend over, reach up, etc.
 It was a chore to get a picture of me, since the day was all about Megan (aren't most days? LOL). You can see how the bodice seems to roll over the piping at my underarm.

Megan wanted us all to not clash. She vetoed Lucy's dress because it was "too blue".

 Okay. First up, Seeing those shoes with the dress....Although I felt tall my legs actually look short!
I didn't know where to put the waist of the dress. The seam was supposed to be right at the waist, but my waist is quite high, and it would have almost been an empire waist dress. I had hoped the piping and the gathers would hide that the waist was not at my narrowest point. I did raise it a bit after the first round of basting but I was also worried it would end up too short. I think it needs to go a bit higher still. I learned a long time ago, that little changes (1/2") can make huge differences. It also doesn't fit as slim under the bust as the model. And it seemed a little tight above the bust/armhole. I'm hoping to shed a few pounds this summer though.
 It started to rain just before we had to go. And like every year, it was hot in the gym. It had been a nice day up until dinner and then it got humid.

Yes, I have a piece of hair going from my nose to my ear. You know, like those girls with the little gold cuff on their nose that's connected with a chain to their ear? (Sarcasm. It was hot. I didn't care.)
I have very few dresses that have a distinct waist seam. It's not how I roll--being very short waisted with a large bust. I'm glad I gave this a go though, and I learned a ton. I love the piping. I'm not too afraid of lining now. I can FBA a princess seam bodice. But I don't think I'm going to start making dresses with a horizontal waist line. Though I realize that was necessary to get the fullness in the skirt. If I did this one again, I'd leave out the waist piping. Though it does add a nice detail and logical separation between the gathers and the bodice....