Saturday, April 30, 2016

april remenants

Me-Made May starts tomorrow!   I'm so excited to join in for the first time.

I'm also really excited to complete my first month in the Stashbusting Sewalong 2016 group.

Here are my totals for April:

Fabric Purchased:
2 yd coral lining (thrifted)
2 yd red lining (thrifted)
3 yd navy lining (thrifted)
3 yd creme silk jaquard (thrifted)
1/2 yd remnant maroon denim (thrifted)
3yd floral rayon twill (new on sale from Finch)

Fabric Sewn:
3 Brumby skirts (one as yet, unblogged)
plum knit dress
long Lucie rayon dress
Alexander Henry Folklorico dress (unblogged)
-15 yd

Yarn Purchased:

Project Completed:
Black Cardigan (unblogged) -4.5 skeins Southwest Trading Company Oasis Solid

I'm down 1.5 yards of fabric & almost 5 skeins of yarn, with 7 garments completed. I also got a lot more organized this month so I am ready to sew next month (i.e. tomorrow!)  I already have three garments cut and ready to construct in May.

I'm spending the weekend down at my father-in-law's house, so I am just cutting this weekend instead of sewing. I love using his big family room floor to cut - much easier than my little living room & then during the week, I can focus on stitching rather than cutting.

Now onto a finished object quickie:

Tying up some loose blogging ends before MMMay starts up... here's a dress I made the afternoon of Easter Sunday.  It's my second Lucie. The top is linen. For the skirt, I used a thrifted remnant of rayon that looks like it was from the skirt of a dress, chopped off.  By the time that I evened out the hack job, the hem turned out a bit short, but I realized that it wears well with jeans or leggings, as a top.

The skirt is pleated in, instead of gathered.  I just wanted to mix it up, while I was testing the pattern.

I still have two more garments to blog about, but they deserve posts of their own... next post: my Alexander Henry Folklorico dress... two years in the making & now finally finished!

Friday, April 29, 2016

learning a new skill - DIY bias tape.

I learned about Nani Iro fabric from The Craft Sessions this year and subsequently became intrigued by the idea of specially made bias tape for delicate seam binding on such beautiful fabric. A quick search of etsy yields tons of listings for homemade tape in multitudes of fabrics and prints.  Pretty cool!

But this also got me thinking - if others could do this with their fabric scraps, why not just invest in the tools and try my hand at doing it with my own fabric scraps?!  So I ordered a 12mm bias tape maker and decided to give it a try.
There are a number  of ways to go about getting your bias strips ready. If you have a fairly large (11" or more) square of fabric, this is a clever method. Since I had a funky shape and I wanted to use up scrap fabric, I decided to go with a more traditional approach that maximized the shape I had.

I took a corner scrap from my #2 Veronika circle skirt and trimmed it up to a 15" triangle, then cut 1 inch strips on the bias, stitched them together, and trimmed the excess.

I ended up with about 2.5 yards of tape from this little 15" triangle and only a couple slivers of wasted fabric.

Then it was time to pull out the iron & use my new tool. I ordered a Dritz 1/2 inch bias tape maker from amazon, which is actually a Prym 12mm one. Weirdly, if you order a Prym with Prym packaging, it is considerably more expensive.  I have subsequently read that Clover bias tape makers are better & I think I will try them for other sizes.

I wanted to make 1/2" single fold bias tape for finishing seams.  I would also eventually like to invest in a 1" size to make 1/2" double fold tape.

I cut 1 inch strips for my tape and I don't know how the math/magick works out, but I think to make better 1/2" single fold it would be better to add another 1/8" to the strip - strangely some width is lost in the fold and I think my tape would have been better starting with ever-so-slightly wider strips.

I didn't starch the strips at any time through the process, which also might have made it fold and press more easily, but I often find prefabricated bias tape a bit crunchy, so I was wondering how it would turn out sans starch.

Depending on the fabric, it could be a boon to temporarily stiffen up the strips for pressing, so I might invest in some spray starch.  As you can see - the crease in the finished product isn't very crisp, but it's still clear enough that I could use it to finish and edge quite nicely.

I am excited to use this tape in an upcoming project and continue to experiment with perfecting my bias tape productions skills.  I love the sustainability of using fabric scraps and the customization, uniqueness, and improved fabric quality options that come with making your own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

quick fix: a (finally) finished object Butterick B5984

This is just a quick finished-object post because it happened to be unseasonable cool enough to wear this plaid flannel dress I started in the fall of 2014 as a wearable muslin for Butterick pattern B5984, which is incidentally on sale right now for $1.99. (I really had to stop myself from browsing the out-of-print pattern sales on Vogue and McCalls patterns right now when I was looking for the link to this bad boy.)

I made the full skirt version, with a gathered skirt instead of a circle skirt & the 3/4 sleeve option.  The neckline proved a fitting challenge for my short torso, so I had to re-cut the shoulder pieces to be smaller. This made the sleeves larger than intended, so I just gathered the sleeve head in a bit more than the original pattern called for to make a cute little pouf sleeve that fit the new shoulder piece, rather than cutting a whole new sleeve. I also ditched the original neck to made a curved shape rather than the square neck with the little collar detail.

(In the photos, it's doing a little funny thing at the bust, but it actually fits fine & was just bunched up under my arm a little.  It was cold and rainy, so we were in a hurry too.)

With everything done but the hem, I was not into this dress at all.  It felt like a bad Pioneer Days costume. So, I set it aside in a pile for over a year, till a few weeks ago when I was organizing my sewing things and I decided to see if it could be helped.  I ended up chopping about over foot of fabric off the hem, so it falls just above the knee now.

The shorter hem really perks it up, immeasurably.  It is much more vibrant and fun to wear with boots on a cool day, than with the long skirt & I particularly like the way that I cut the center piece on the bias.  This pattern has a enough pieces that it gives you some room to be creative with print.

Considering the grand scheme of things, I probably won't make the pattern again - but I am please with how I salvaged the wearable muslin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

fabric fears + secret pajamas

This month I discovered a cool sewing community of stash-busters on the blog Handmade by Heather B. They have an ongoing sew-along to sew through fabric they've collected and try not to buy new fabric, to sew more yardage than they buy each month, or to only buy fabric for specific projects and use it right away, without letting it go into storage.  It's really relaxed, low-pressure, welcoming, and open-ended... but they have an optional theme... I like the optional theme, because you could use it to get you thinking or to create connection to a community... but if inspiration calls you in another direction... that is celebrated too.

I found the stash busting sew-along the month after knits were the theme... but lucky for me, this month the theme was fabric fears... so I figured I had to make something with knit fabric from my collection.

As I reflected on the knits I still own and how I like to wear knits, I realized that I like to wear knit dresses as something I call to myself "secret pajamas" - I love that knit dresses look somewhat put-together, but still feel like nightgowns. On Mondays, when I am tired and I don't want to get out of bed & go to work, I turn to one my secret pajama dresses to get me through the day.  These are all knit dresses or loose flowy rayon dresses.  With one exception, they are not me-made, so I would be lacking in the comfy dress department for Me-Made May.

This gave me the idea to make a garment crossed between a caftan and a trapeze dress, with my two favorite pieces of knit fabric in my stash.  A plum colored modal and some vintage black and gold metallic striped synthetic knit.  I fear them because I fear sewing knits on my vintage machine and I fear these two in particular because they are things in my stash that I really like & have been saving for good.  For some day in the distant future when I have my own sewing room and I buy a serger and an overlocker and start making 100% of my clothes, right down to my skivies, and master knits once and for all.

Um. That day may never come.  I should just use this fabric to the best of my ability now! So I did.

I really like it. I traced a ready to wear trapeze dress that I bought from Charlotte Russe online. I wore it all the time this spring in my capsule wardrobe experiment... it was a common outfit repeat, even within the same week!
I just traced it onto the plum fabric and made it as long as I could at the hem and sleeves. It turned out an unusual length that is right above the ankle - it is sort of interesting-modernist... verging on frumpy. It reminds me of a personal interpretation of those big boxy designer dresses from the 90s Vogue pattern books that you would look at in the fabric store and contemplate - thinking if you wore outlandish clothes like that, what kind of life would you have?  It might change everything to dress in such oversized garments.

My dress isn't as dramatic, but the column dress is a different cut than I usually wear and I enjoy the novelty of it, while still being within my comfort zone enough to qualify as 'secret pajamas'.

For the neck and sleeves, I used the ribbing method from the Sewaholic Renfrew - a pdf tee pattern I downloaded, read about, and never made because I was too scared.

The lower sleeve is a double thickness folded to make a band with no finish necessary.

The neck facing is sewn before finishing the second shoulder seam, then the whole thing is stitched down with a double needle.

I used "Stitch Witchery" - or double-sided hem tape, (cut in-half to be narrower) to iron the hem in place before double stitching it too. This made the hem more stable and less stretchy. It's not perfect, but it is better than a lot of knit garments I've attempted.  I enjoyed using these fabrics. I like them together and I now have a soft knit dress for Me-Made May.

I faced fabric fears of a different nature when I made another 'secret pajama' worthy garment out of rayon - my third try at fitting the Lucie dress.  It is long and floaty and will be great in the summer on it's own, or with a cardigan for work.

I bought this yellow and grey chevron rayon from, shortly after making a rayon floral babydoll dress that I still love.  I thought it would be the same fabric with a different print, but the quality of the rayon was not the same as the floral - much thinner and super-wrinkly - so I never made anything with it.

I was afraid it would either stay in my stash forever, filling me with regret and buyer's remorse every time I saw it - or I would try to make it into something nice, struggling with a less-than-perfect fabric, rendering it useless & wasted.

So, when I was cutting this version of Lucie, I decided to make it a long skirt to use up all the 3 yards of this dreaded fabric for a wearable muslin.

My first Lucie was too big.  My second Lucie was on the verge of being too small.  This one I went back up a size, but one size smaller than the first make.  I've had challenges fitting the Lucie dress each time I made it and this third iteration was no exception, so, once I knew the fit was off, I just started playing until I came up with something that worked. This one slipped off my shoulders, so I tried a few alterations before settling on a giant inverted box pleat right down the front of the whole dress to take in the width.
I added two vintage shell buttons over the places where the pleats are tacked down.  I also took several inches out of the shoulder seam of the tank, to raise the neckline, further mitigating slippage.  It is still quite scooped in the back, but now it stays on my shoulders. It's not perfection, but it's okay.

Interestingly, the more I iron this rayon, the more it seems to become cooperative.  The first few tries got me nowhere, but it seems like it is mellowing out now that it is a garment and it wears throught the day without wrinkling up like it did at first. I am counting it as a win.

Also, I'm over the Lucie pattern for now.  I gave it three good tries and I need a break because none of them turned out as cute as I thought they would from the photos of the pattern.  I am pleased, though, to have 2 new secret jammies dresses for Me Made May '16 and to be free of 5.5 yards of deep stash fabric I wasn't sure if I would ever use, if it weren't for the stash-busting sew-along.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Me-Made May Pledge

I, Kate of Thistle & Bean / @katikhu, sign up as a participant of 
Me-Made-May '16.  
I endeavor to wear at least one garment that I have sewed or knitted 
(& always choose a me-made option over rtw, if I have one in my wardrobe) 
each day for the duration of May 2016.

I've been wanting to take part in Me-Made-May since I discovered it and the sewing blog world in early 2014.  I only had a couple things made by May of 2014, so I just admired everyone else that year, then I got to busy to sew last year... but now is my time - my first ever MMM!

I made a lot of things in 2014 that have stood the test of time and are still active in my wardrobe & I've been generating quite a few garments this year, since the curated closet project brought me back to sewing for myself again.

While I didn't plan to make a bunch of things solely for MMM, I did already plan to make some new basics for summer, so I have more motivation to get that done in the coming 6 weeks. Through the Stash Less series from The Craft Sessions I've really been thinking critically about my stash of fabric and how to be more mindful and intentional in the craft process to enjoy what I make to the fullest.

There is process and product - sometimes we make for process and sometimes for product.  I want to optimize the relationship between process and product to get the most joy and functionality from both the making and the wearing. 

I'm excited to choose me-made garments first and learn more about what I would like to sew/knit in the future to complete my wardrobe more mindfully.

I'm also excited to celebrate what I have already made and give those garments some extra love. An extra part of this challenge for me is to always choose a me-made option first, if I have one available. For instance, I have a denim skirt that I really like that I found at a thrift store, after months of searching.  It was a little ill-fitting in the waist, but I altered it and now I really like it.  I like it better than my two-year old Kelly chambray skirt... but I will pick the Kelly over the rtw skirt in May... even if I am also wearing a top or a sweater that I made to fulfill the 'at least one' part.

I just want to see what it is like to try to wear as much me-made as possible. I really admire Stale Bread into French Toast and Handmade by Carolyn - who are truly extraordinary makers. Carolyn even makes her own shoes!!!

I will always have a mixture of things, but next month the me-mades will take center stage. I can't wait to see everyone else's wonderful creations too.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

a tale of two Brumbys

Last weekend, I assembled the Brumby pdf and cut wearable muslins of both view 1 and view 3ish (by "ish" I mean that I cut it to still have pockets, but with the shape/length of view 3.)

This week, I've been sewing them up.  View 1 came together very smoothly.  I cut a medium waistband and an XL skirt, so that I could have a bit of extra fullness to accommodate my pear shape. The result was a very cheerful little skirt.

I really love the pockets on this skirt. I used some contrasting bright yellow fabric for the lining and I like how the pockets are rather oversized and slouchy so you catch glimpses of the contrast lining in natural movements. This fabric is quite bold, but I think it works well in this pattern.  It is thrifted. The selvage says "Cranston Print Works. Schwartz Liebman Tex. USA" no date.  From my googlemancy, I think it is from the late 90s or early 2000's.

I would definitely make this view and size combination again, though for work I would probably add a couple inches of length. It's not super-short; but I realized, as I was wearing it on Friday, that I like to keep my knees a little more under-wraps in the workplace. It would also be fine for work with tights and I think it would be a great length for a wintertime lined wool version. All-in-all, though, a very wearable muslin.

Brumby the second didn't turn out to be so painless. The trick of cutting the extra large sized skirt turned out very poorly for this view.  I did this on all my Kellys and it worked well.  Veronika was fine as all medium, due to the circle shape.  The fuller a-line view of the Brumby should be an all-medium make, if I do it again.

With the extra fullness of the XL skirt gathered into the medium sized waistband, I ended up with a super-poufy, kind of fussy skirt.  Part way through making it, I started to hate it. I contemplated ditching the whole thing without finishing it, but then I decided that I would have a sort of Tim Gunn make-it-work moment and just start hacking the muslin up till I either liked the end result or destroyed it.  What's left isn't exactly the Brumby pattern, but I turned it around to be a good summer date night skirt.

I pinned, tucked, chopped, and nipped bits of this skirt until it fit better and was a little less puffed-out.  I also added six belt loops to keep this red belt in place.

It still has the great Brumby pockets... and these are lined with a wide striped menswear shirt fabric, which is my favorite part of the whole skirt.
The main fabric is a thrifted cotton/poly that I think is from the 70s or 80s. It looked nicer uncut that it does sewn into a garment.  I thought it would give sort of a fun retro feeling, but I felt more like Little House on the Prairie gone wrong when I first put this skirt on.  I think I turned the muslin around for an okay save, though.

I learned enough from these first two muslins to feel confident cutting into my Robert Kaufman indigo dot chambray that arrived in the mail this week.  I am looking forward to Brumby #3.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kelly & Veronika

The sun came out this week!
See?!  It's in my eyes.  After the cloudy grey winter... I am a little confused.  But happy!

Oh. And here's a picture of the first ever wearing of the Twisted Grapes cardigan and my second iteration of the Megan Nielsen's Veronika circle skirt. 

I really love this sweater now that it stays buttoned... 
Those shoes are funny, huh?! I didn't start out wearing them.  I was wearing some navy vintage platform sandals... until this happened:
Fortunately, I work right around the corner from an American Apparel where I got these glowy jelly shoes for $12 to get through the rest of the day. They actually look kind of cool with the outfit, but it was unplanned.  I'm going to take these jellies back to work to keep in my desk drawer in case of an future vintage shoe mishaps.  This wasn't my first and may not be my last... but that's just par for the course when you are wearing things that are decades old.  I'll take my chances. It always works out and makes for exciting days sometimes where you unexpectedly end up the proud owner of glow in the dark plastic shoes!
Back to sewing... The second Veronika went together like a dream... It's a great go-to circle skirt that I will definitely make in more multiples.  

My next make, I will do in black linen/rayon blend with the pocket detail. I realized how much I love a skirt with pockets after wearing my long-awaited corduroy Kelly the next day. It only took me 20 months to do the button holes. I don't know what I was waiting for - it took less than a half hour to finish up once I actually sat down to do it. 
Megan Nielsen is such a great designer for skirts.  I very rarely wear pants - I'm trying to force myself to wear pants once a week these days and it's a struggle.  I live in knee length skirts... and her patterns are so wearable and fun. There are enough details & variations to become patterns that you enjoy making over and over and the designs are classic and simple enough to be comfortable for an average day at work or running errands. 

Next up is Brumby.  I cut out two wearable muslins in more thrifted floral fabric this weekend - one for each variation of fullness to see which I prefer for the indigo dot chambray that I ordered along with the black linen/rayon.  Looking forward to stitching them up and learning about the exposed zip. I'm bummed that her app doesn't come out for Android til June and it's supposed to have really good instructions for the exposed zip.  I hope I can figure it out without the app.  It's a technique I look forward to learning - hopefully sooner rather than later.

It's back to raining again - but till next time, I'll remember what it felt like to be warm outside and dream of the next sunny day...