Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Clover Chronicles

On Thursday, I went a long way toward realizing my dream of making the Clover pants.  And it wasn't nearly as difficult as I'd thought it would be - but true to form I made it a lot harder than it needed to be, mostly because  I spent so much time procrastinating and taking breaks.  Here's how my day went:

7:00  Got up, ate breakfast and got dressed.  Spent a fair amount of time doing "internet research" on pattern adjustments for these pants.

10:00  Finally decided that I should get started.

Traced the pattern pieces.

Took a break.

Cut out and marked the fabric.

Took a break.

12:00  Ate lunch.  Did some more internet research.  Results inconclusive.

1:00  Decided to finally dive in and sew up the pants.

Done sewing by 2:00.

The moment of truth - trying them on.  SO scary!

But they weren't too bad!

I had my normal issues with pants:  gaping at the back waist and extra fabric at the right hip.  But now that I've done the body map, I knew that the excess at the right hip wasn't just my imagination or a seam allowance gone wrong!  And guess what - when I started pinning it out, I took out a total of 1/2" there - just like my body map said I should!  I ended up pinning out almost 2.5" at the center back.

Disclaimer:  as weird as I feel putting these pictures on the internet, I'm doing it anyway in the hopes that it might help someone else who wants to make these pants.  In all my research, I didn't find any pictures of muslins in the process of being altered - most people just mentioned as an aside what kinds of alterations they did.  But I'm the kind of person who needs to SEE it!

Here's the excess pinned out at the center back and right hip.  I was twisting around so there's some wrinkling at the back of the legs which isn't as pronounced when I stand straight, although there's a little more fabric there than I'd like.  I'm still researching how to handle this.

A view from the front.  At this point, I had resewn the back and right side seams to the new measurements.  Not perfect, but not too bad either.

From the right, with excess removed.

And from the left, with safety pins standing in for a zipper.

I made Version 1, not realizing they were very cropped.  When I make my final version, I'm planning on making them ankle length.

Once I had resewn the pants with the adjustments and tried on the fit, I took off most of the waistband so I could transfer my new markings onto my pattern pieces.

Waistband removed.

Drawing in the adjustments.

The new center back seam line and cutting line.

The new right hip seam line.


These sit lower than I was hoping for, so I may have a long rise.

I still need to figure out how to deal with the extra fabric at the back of my thighs.

I'm a little concerned that the stretch fabric will end up being baggy after a few hours of wear.  My plan is to put the muslin back together and add a zipper, then wear them around for a day to see how they do and how I feel in them before making up the "real" pair.

All in all though, I think this was a pretty successful first go, and I'm feeling confident about moving ahead with this pattern!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Controversial Madeleine

Controversial because I ended up hemming it longer than you all wanted me to, but I just really like it that way!  It looks like a '50s/'70s mash-up!  And I can always make it shorter, but once I've cut it, I can't make it longer!

It's just a little below knee length, and I think that's OK.  Today I paired it with a floral jacket I bought from Anthropologie a few years ago.  The red flowers in the jacket aren't quite the same red as the skirt, but I like them together anyway - I tend to like red and brown together.

After I ran it through a warm wash cycle a couple times, the fabric did shrink a little and soften up, so I'm really liking the skirt now.  But next time I do it, I'll make sure to use a lighter-weight fabric.

It's been so long since I finished this that I don't remember any of the construction particulars - sorry!  The only thing I remember is that my waistband came out too short.  I later learned that I should have eased the skirt into the waistband more than I did, so I'll keep that in mind next time.

I think you can totally tell
I was a school teacher
for many years!

Is anyone else planning to make this pattern?  Melizza made a super-cute one in kelly green.  I've been looking all over for kelly green fabric to make some pants (or another Ginger) and boy, is that a hard fabric to find!  So far I'm striking out!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Sweater

At long last!  Here's how it looks on a body.  And this is how my body looks much of the time:  yoga pants, tee shirt and Birks!

Option A:  closed

Option B:  open

See how versatile it is?

It's super cozy too - if you've ever felt Calmer, you know how squishy it is.  I really love it.  This one will be going to Germany with me in May.  It's going to be perfect for wearing on the airplane.

I know I griped a lot about the collar while I was making this, but it was worth it in the end.  I probably wouldn't do it again, but I'm glad I did it the first time.

So many of the sweaters I've made over the years have been designed by Kim Hargreaves.  Her designs tend to have a timeless, classic quality.  This sweater is from her booklet The Calmer Collection; I've made three of the designs from this book, and I'm thinking about making a fourth.

Any other Calmer or Kim lovers out there?  What are your favorite patterns for Calmer?  I've got enough left for 2 sweaters, and I'm trying to pick what I want to do with it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

(Primarily) Self-Made Woman

I took some time to do a little photoshoot this morning before I headed out to run errands.  I've got a backlog of finished pieces I've been too lazy to model and photograph, and I managed to snap pix of all but one of them today.  I'll spread them out over a couple of posts though.

So let's start out with this week's finished pieces, the Ginger skirt and the Butterick blouse.  You all know how a Ginger looks by now, and having now made this pattern five times, I really don't have anything to say about it other than, look how great it goes with my new blouse!

I put on my most padded bra, and now the blouse is starting to grow on me.  I think in a size 8 it will be just right.  Hmmm . . . decisions!

I'm not sure I mentioned it yet, but when I got started on the blouse I was surprised to discover that there are no horizontal bust darts.  There are, however, two vertical double-ended darts in the back and the sides are quite shaped, so the finished product actually does have more shape than I'd thought it would.

Putting this together reconfirmed my need to hand-baste in sleeves - always.  I didn't do it on the first sleeve, and ended up having to pick out and re-sew a couple sections.  I did baste the second sleeve, and it came together so much easier - and it hangs better than the one I didn't baste.

This shot is here mostly so you can see
my shoes better.

I love this outfit for a spring day - red, yellow and blue!  When I went out, I wore a yellow sweater I made years ago.  Also note that I've coordinated my nail polish and even added a bezel-set murrini glass ring I made a few years ago:

China Glaze Happy Go Lucky
I know.

Last but not least, here are today's silly shots:

Oh Sergio, I love you so much!

You do things for me that Ken doesn't do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sewing Week So Far (previews)

Today I made blouse #1 from my plan, Butterick 6085 from way back in 1999:

See down there in the lower right hand corner, how it says "Fast and Easy Classics?" Ummm . . . compared to what?  It took me 4.5 hours to make this "simple" blouse. Granted, that included cutting out, but still . . .  I'm no stranger to making shirts and blouses, and this one doesn't even have the added effort of a collar stand or cuffs.

And I made it too big.  Again.  Here's how it went down.  Last week when I was getting ready to make this, I took a look at the finished measurements.  The bust for my size was 38" - a lot more ease than I wanted.  So I decided to go down a size.

Last night I traced all the pieces for size 8.  The front looked small.  I held it up to my body.  It felt small. I took a few minutes to read some reviews on Pattern Review, and a couple of them said the fit runs small on this one.  So I got scared off and retraced it all back up to the size 10 (my normal).  It's got quite a bit of ease. Not unwearable, but more relaxed than I usually wear.

Sorry for the bad light, but this is just a preview.

Thankfully, the fabric is very soft and has a lot of drape.  This is a cotton voile I got from  I like it because it reminds me of Liberty prints.  But without the price tag.  I had enough left over to make a yummy soft infinity scarf too!

Infinity isn't as big as I'd thought it would be.

I remembered to use my favorite new trick for collars, courtesy of Pattern Runway:

It makes such a difference in how nicely the corners turn:

I really like the buttons I picked up yesterday:

So, I'm on the fence about this pattern.  I'm not quite sure I want to sacrifice my Anna Maria Horner voile to it, even if I go back down to the size 8.  It's very plain - almost camp shirt-like.  I'm going to have to think on it.

But - it goes great with the new Ginger, which is what I bought the fabric for:

This one is made from organic cotton twill, also from  It's the same fabric I used for my Madeleine skirt (which is growing on me).  While I think it was a little too heavy and stiff for the Madeleine, it works great for the Ginger.  I originally chose this color to go with my Pussy Bow Blouse, but after I finished it yesterday, I spent some time going through my closet and finding other tops that go with it.  Look how great it is with this '50s sleeveless blouse:

I can't wait to wear these together in summer!  This blouse has some really inspiring details too:  all the designs are created by manipulating this striped fabric:

Just look at this collar!

and these tucks!

I bought this blouse many years ago; it's in perfect condition because it was dead stock.  But I've hardly ever worn it because it's a little short.  So I'm very excited to be able to wear it with this high-waisted skirt!

So I guess this is the moment of truth . . . since blouse #2 is on hold, it looks like tomorrow I'll start working on the pants!

Monday, March 26, 2012

While the cat's away . . .

The mouse is having a crafting week!

Hubby has gone to a week-long conference, so I've set aside the whole week to get some sewing done and also try to make some headway on my Winnie and Ava sweaters.

I've been planning this week since I found out Hubby would be gone, about 2 months ago.  My original plan was to start the Peony dress from scratch and finally conquer that pattern.  But as the time drew nearer, I decided that I'd rather work on the Clover pants.  These are both projects that will take a fair amount of effort and concentration, so having a wide-open space of time is essential for me.

Before I get started on the pants though, I have a couple other things I want to get done.  I started a new Ginger skirt yesterday while Hubby was getting ready to go, and I got quite a bit further than I'd expected to:

I just have to insert the zipper, finish the waistband and hem it.  Then I'll move on to a blouse pattern I've had since about 1999 - just a plain, button-up convertible collar blouse, but I've got a cute floral fabric that looks great with both this skirt and the Madeleine I finished several weeks ago (that I still owe modeled pictured of!).   This blue twill and the floral lawn are off-list sewing - these fabrics sort of fell into my basket last month while I was ordering fabric for a couple of things that are on the list!

The first go of the blouse is actually going to be a muslin to make sure the fit is OK, before I use the beautiful Anna Maria Horner voile I've been sitting on for a few months.  I'm not sure if I'll start the second blouse before I start the pants - we'll see how things go in the next day or two.  It's a pretty ambitious plan:

1 skirt
2 blouses
1 pair of pants

Hubby comes home Friday night!  So I'd better get cracking!

Oh, but before I do, take a look at this color:

I don't think the photo completely conveys the neon magnificence of this polish, but it almost does.  I'm totally in love with this!  It's Zoya Ali; I got it on sale for $4 a couple weeks ago at Ulta.  I really just bought it because it was cheap and pink, but now that I've tried it, I'm so glad I did!  I think this color makes me look tan.  And it definitely puts a smile on my face!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coral and Blue Hydrangea

A quiet, rainy laundry day.  I don't have a whole lot of time for crafting today, but I wanted at least to get a small start on my next project.

I was thrilled to discover that I have enough of my coral silk left to make a Sorbetto!  Yes, I'm a copy-cat! Do you think it will make me look as gorgeous as Sarai?  I hope so!

I think I'm one of very few people who really enjoy making bias tape.  That little gizmo is just so much fun!  And then I wrap it on an empty toilet paper roll, because I'm classy.

Last night, I did up my nails in my favorite light blue:  Blue Hydrangea by Nubar.  It has a lovely subtle sheen on its own, but I decided to top it off with some Essie As Gold as it Gets.  I really love the effect:

And it looks nice with my bias tape too!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


That was a long haul!  Really happy with the result though:

It's still too hot to put it on, but I have faith that the weather will cool down!  . . . Eventually.

It's cuddly and cozy, and I can wrap it around me and belt it closed.  I love that.  

The only thing I did differently from the pattern was to add a belt carrier at each side:

I don't like having to keep track of my belt!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where does the time go?

These days, it goes mostly to reading this:

My mom read it and liked it, so I decided to give it a go too.  She found it interesting, having been a young woman at the time.  I like it too; it's a good time-travel story.  But the reason I'm spending so much time reading it is that it's a loooonngggg book:  849 pages!  And the Chicago Public Library only loans for 3 weeks.  I have a feeling I won't be able to renew it, since it's a new book, so I want to make sure to finish it on time.  Sadly, I'm a pretty slow reader.

The rest of my time has been going into finishing The Sweater, and I'm almost there.  Those two collars took forever to knit, and I was further slowed down by having to sew them on as I went in order to determine the length needed.  But I've finally gotten past that and am at the point of the final seaming:

Who ever thought sewing together would be a relief?!

I've also been trying to deal with a First World Problem (thank you to Hubby for introducing me to that!).  Our AC gave up the ghost and looks like it will need to be replaced.  Not usually a big deal, except that our condenser is on the ROOF of our 4-story building, accessible only by ladder as far as we know.  What a brilliant builder, right?  So we've had no AC in this heatwave and I haven't been able to find anyone to sell us a new one.  Thus actual knitting and sewing have come to a screeching halt, and I find myself only able to handle the sweater for seaming for very short amounts of time.

But I have nail polish to play with!  Here's a new one, from the OPI Holland Collection, called A Roll in the Hague:

A pretty, hot red-orange.  Sadly, the formula was one of the worst I've experienced - ever.  Very patchy, and application was made even more difficult because I bought the set of minis.  I thought I was doing myself a favor, because I'm not a fan of the OPI brush.  But the mini brush was terrible!  Live and learn!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good riddance.

I'm making headway on my crafty to-do list.  Today's task was to finish up the Jasmine I took apart a few weeks ago.  You may remember I'd planned to turn it into a camisole.  And so I did; it's still not perfect, but it's better than it was, and at least I can use it as an under layer for something.

Here's what I did:

1.  Made bias tape out of some of the remaining fabric.  Started with an 11" square, and then learned that it only works with even numbers.

2.  Starting from the top of the V-neck, took in 3" at center front, tapering down to nothing at the hem.

3.  Tried it on and with soap, traced a camisole shape on the front.

4.  Took it off and cut open the shoulder seams, then cut along the camisole tracings and cut out a curve along the back.

5.  Applied bias tape to the edges, starting from the right top, across the back and ending at the left top.  Then separately applied the remaining tape to the center front section, letting the tails extend to become straps.  Ended up with a bias tape seam just off center in the front and decided to ignore it.

6.  Tried it on and discovered the bias tape made the underarms flare.  A lot.

7.  Took in tucks at the back where the straps attach, to take up excess.

8.  Called it a day and crossed it off my list!

And now I can continue with item number three on my weekend list, which is making some headway on my sweater.  I'm about 2/3 done with the collars (yes - plural) and maybe 5/8 done with the belt.  Getting closer!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig . . .

Home again, home again, jiggety jig!

I set myself some crafting goals for the weekend.  I've got too many unfinished bits and pieces laying around, and it's making me uncomfortable.  So today, I finally finished my muslin for the Lisette Market Blouse - I began it almost a month ago and completed all but the second sleeve and the hem in one afternoon, then set it aside! I didn't feel very inspired to finish it, because the fit isn't what I'd hoped it would be.

Now that it's done, I'm finding the fit isn't as bad as I'd first thought, but it's not super-flattering either.  I cut a straight size 10 with no modifications.  The shoulders are a smidge too wide (and I have wide-ish shoulders to begin with) and although there is some shaping at the sides, the overall effect is rather baggy.  Still, it might look cute with some rolled up jeans and ballet flats, in a farm-girl sort of way.

I dug through my button jar and chose 3 different buttons to complement the colors in the print:

I think part of the reason I'm not 100% satisfied is that I'm not in love with this fabric.  Which is why I chose to use it in a muslin.  I bought it on impulse during the Sorbetto Craze of 2011, but I'm not really sure why.  It reminds me of pajamas;  but I didn't buy enough to make pajamas.

The other thing I'm not happy about with this one is that I rushed through it on Day 1, so there is some uneven stitching.  And then I ran out of thread, so the stitching on the second sleeve and the hem is a different color pink.  I wonder if anyone will notice it other than me.

I will wear this for knocking around the house, but I think if I want to use this pattern again I will have to do some adjustments in the shoulders.  And honestly, I'm not sure if I feel it's worth it . . .

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pattern Runway Easy Kimono Short-Sleeved Dress

Well, it turns out today is a sunny day after all!  This morning I convinced Hubby to take some pictures before he left for work, which means you get to see more of my plain, grey wall!  I intentionally don't hang any pictures there because it seems to be the place in our house with the best light for taking photos.  I had really wanted to get outside and do the photos there, but time was of the essence.

In order not to spam the place with pictures of my new dress, I made a couple of collages on Picnik.  I'll be so sad when that service is not available any more;  so far it doesn't appear on Google+.  Big pouty face.

I did two looks:  a fancier one for going out in the evening, and a casual one for day.  I have SO many things in my closet that go with this dress, it was a little hard narrowing it down!  It appears I like coral.  A LOT.

First, the fancy look:

It's probably too small for you to see, but I've got on some high-heeled bronze leather slingback sandals, a bronze metallic braided belt, and plenty of gold jewelry.  The good thing about having the photos a little smaller is that you're spared seeing my veiny old-lady hands too closely.  I've had those old-lady hands since I was a teenager.  Sigh.

Here's a back view.  In the photo on the left, notice that the facing is flipping out a little.  The pattern has you tack the facings to the dress at the shoulder and just under the arm, rather than stitching it all the way around.  It mostly stays put, so I'm not really sure why it's flipping here.  You may also notice that I got about 8" of hair cut off!  Today it's in its natural "wild child" state, since I was in a hurry.

Moving on the the casual look, I took off the heels and jewelry and added a scarf and some bronze metallic leather flip flops.  I actually prefer this look!

I like the center photo:  I'm looking at a big dust bunny on the floor!  Maybe a little less knitting and sewing, and a little more housework is in order?

So, do I like the dress?  Yes, I like it.  I LOVE the color and the feel of the silk.  My workmanship is still not as fine as I'd like though.  This silk twill was easier to work with than some of the others I've used, but it's clear I still have a way to go before I master silk.

I used the step-by-step tutorial on Pattern Runway's site.  Odd that someone who loves words as much as I do will generally choose to just look at the pictures rather than read the instructions!

The only thing I did differently from the pattern was to add a casing for the elastic, rather than sew it onto the seam allowance on the inside.  But now I'm wondering if that was a good idea - the gathers tend to shift when I move very much, and not always in a figure-flattering way.

So there you have it.  I was so glad to get this off my guest bed after looking at it in its half-finished state  for the last two weeks.  And if this weather keeps up, I may even get to wear it soon!  But not today:  it's laundry day again!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I finished my kimono sleeve dress today.*

Of course, that means it will be too cloudy to take pictures tomorrow!  Isn't that always the way?

*I also made some progress on Collar #1.