Ollie’s Birthday Shirt

I had some reservations about making the Oliver+S Sketchbook shirt. I haven’t made one since Greg’s Negroni, and let’s just say he’s super polite to wear it because, y’all, it’s a mess. I don’t dare look at it now because I might forget all about the sentimentality it stands for and burn it.

I also haven’t been sewing as much as I would like, so I feel quite rusty. With the test garment, I decided to take my time. Well…I had no choice. I was only able to work on it here and there, in between naps and bedtime. But it’s amazing how your sewing quality shoots up a couple of notches when you don’t rush. Funny that. Note to self: TAKE YOUR TIME. I am so used to rushing through garments that most of them have cruddy innards and have fallen apart after a handful of washes. My mending pile is huge. Such a shame.

Because of baby I have to slow down and really concentrate at the work at hand. Thanks baby! Oh should I saw, toddler? Whoa.

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

I had a devil of a time using the one-step buttonhole attachment on my machine. The buttonholes just would not finish the process. I’m guessing the buttonhole foot just did not like the placket. Or maybe my tension was off? I didn’t try to figure the issue out. I unpicked (oh vey!!!) the bad buttonholes and you can barely see the damage they caused on the placket. With time ticking away, I grabbed my hammer. Enter pearl snaps. Months ago, when I was planning my Archer, I impulse purchased a bunch of pearl snaps. Thank goodness.

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

Another useful purchase for this project was the blind hemming/edge stitching foot. So useful for topstitching the collar, cuffs, hem, and plackets. Too bad I bought it before realizing I already had one! D’oh! Silly Mela. At least it didn’t cost much.

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

I love the under collar so!

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

I encountered a few hiccups while doing the sleeves. It wasn’t until I finally set them in that I realized I wanted to do a French seam. I could’ve unpicked them and start all over again but this shirt was the first one to give me grief when inserting a sleeve. When I finally got them in without puckers I felt quite a bit of relief. So no way was I unpicking them. I zig-zagged the edges and called it a day.

Another hiccup was putting in the snaps on the wrong side on the cuffs. The sleeve plackets should lie flat but if you look in the photo they turn up. Oh well. Not enough snaps to take them out and re-do. And I don’t think Ollie minds so much :)

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

The intention when making this shirt was for it to be made up from the inner yoke fabric. The chambray version was just my test version. Time ran out and it became the final version :) But it worked out great because it goes well with any accessories. Chambray is totally a blank canvas, a gorgeous neutral to work with.

Sketchbook  Shirt by Oliver+S

Using some yummy leftover Liberty tana lawn I made Ollie a bow tie to go along with his new shirt. This fabric has been such a giver. I’ve made so much from it: bibs, burp cloths, my maternity dress, and now the bow tie. And I still have scraps of it left.

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I still have to make his other shirt, the one originally set to be his birthday shirt. Now that spring has sprung I am going to skip the long sleeves and go short. That will make the process go faster. He might just get to wear it before fall!

Here’s one last shot of my boy wearing his duds.

Dapper Dude

2013: More baby, less sewing

2013 came and went in a blur. A wonderful wild blur. We had a baby, built ties to our community, traveled a wee bit, and just tried to stay afloat doing the parenting thing. Initially I was going to write about how disappointed I was in having only made six garments. But then I thought, WHATEVER. Y’all, I kept a human alive AND I made six garments while caring for a baby that goes on napping strikes like it’s his job. I deserve a ribbon or something :)

2013 Recap Pincushion Treats

2013 Recap Pincushion Treats 2

Of course in 2014 I hope/dream/wish to sew a lot more. These last few days I’ve been prepping my sewing space. G gifted me with a new sewing table he and his dad put together for me. They used this tutorial. It has some fabulous cubby storage that I plan to store my stash*.

IMG_7625 Mama, can you make me some clothes? Yes, dear. Next year.

I also plan to finish a number of projects I started and haven’t finished (Scout Tee, Juniper trousers, moccasins, leggings…). Before Ollie, I almost always finished a project. These days I, like a goldfish, get excited by a new sparkly must-make item and abandon what I was working on. No more. I want to finish a project and check it off my to-sew list. And no rushing. Just take my time and enjoy the method and time to myself. I really want to improve my seam finishes. A lot of my favorite garments have started to fall apart due to some shoddy construction *hangs head*. Shameful.

With little sewing time I intend to revisit old patterns. No tracing and little to no alterations. Perfect. I’ve been wanting to make another School House Tunic for ages. And also make the garments that make me feel confident and a bit flirty, like Clover trousers and circle skirts. I need more of them in my life.

Lately quilting has been really enjoyable for me. I like being able to walk away from a project and work on it here and there. I’m not into the cutting process but wow, once that’s done, all the pieces come together quickly. Also, I love seeing a it take shape. I’m thinking maybe I can join a quilting club and bring Blanche along. She recently joined Dotty and Sophia in my sewing team. She was born in 1935 but looks pretty good considering her age. She has a few chips here and there but sews beautifully. I love her and picture us top-stitching a pair of jeans together.

Singer Featherweight 1935

So my goals for the new year aren’t too grand but definitely doable.

Wishing you a Happy New Year. Now I am off to celebrate by eating carnitas burritos and brownie pudding, chased by some Prosecco. Fancy!

*2014 will bring on the stash diet. Join in if your stash is taking over your space.

Victoria in Stripes

Ponte Striped Victoria Blazer by Pincushion Treats

Can you believe it? I finished another garment. Never mind that I’ve had this beauty on my sewing table for a banana amount of months. No matter. It is done. It is pretty. And I’ve gained a new respect for the whole sew-when-you-have-time method. For a while there I was feeling really sad that I wasn’t able to devote hours at a time sewing. Once I let go of that I realized how much relaxing a few minutes here and there can be. So yeah…the more you know :)

I was inspired to make a blazer similar to this one, except made by GAP. I bought a cute navy and white stripey ponte knit from an online vendor. Sadly, I didn’t realize I was buying by half a yard and not a yard (don’t you hate when that happens! A big bugbear of mine. Silly, Mela) and didn’t have enough. So enter the lovely Victoria blazer. I wasn’t sure the boxy silhouette would suit me but I figured, what the heck, let’s find out!

Ponte Striped Victoria Blazer by Pincushion Treats

Being pressed for time these days, I decided not to do a lining. I finished the collar and lapel edges in green bias binding and simply folded the hem under and stitched. Ta-da! Easy breezy. 

Ponte Striped Victoria Blazer by Pincushion Treats

Based on the finished shoulder measurement, I traced size 14/18. I still found the blazer a bit too wide and will have to take in the pattern by an inch or so at the shoulders. For the sleeve I added 1 inch using the slash and spread method, and 1 inch to each side, so 3 inches in total. To the back and front pattern pieces I added 1 inch to the armscye width. I also interfaced the collar, lapels and cuffs. For a cleaner look I tacked down the lapels.

Ponte Striped Victoria Blazer by Pincushion Treats

Forgive my weary eyes in the side profile photo above. With the days getting darker earlier the best time I can get photos taken are before G leaves for work so that meant rushing to get dressed and forgoing my morning brew.

Ponte Striped Victoria Blazer by Pincushion Treats

I’ve only matched stripes twice before, one by luck and the other was a basic skirt. Nothing to brag about. This time I took my time laying out the fabric and pattern pieces and cutting them out in one single layer. It helped. I think the only place the stripes failed to completely match were at where there’s some excess sleeve ease business going on. So I’d like to think I did an okey dokey job there. But I will save my bragging rights for the day I match plaid. Yes, ma’am.

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With the year quickly coming to an end (I know, I’m totally a bit ahead of myself) I’d like to say that this jacket is fulfilling my Sewlution! Sure it’s not the lined, fitted glory of a blazer I had in my head when I made the sewlution, but it is a blazer. And let’s be frank, I can’t be certain I can make a fitted lined jacket before the new year. So yeah. I’m calling it: Sewlution accomplished!

didyoumakethat

I’ll have a slice…oh well..let’s make it two!

I imagine that by now you’ve probably seen a few versions of StephC‘s lovely new pattern, Red Velvet. Well you can count yourself lucky, here’s another! I was fortunate enough to be a tester for Red Velvet and absolutely enjoyed the experience. It was easy enough to put together in an evening yet the suggested techniques offered the right amount of challenge. The perfect project for this lady who has been on a bit of a sewing hiatus. So I warn you, this post is a bit picture heavy…take a seat…get a cuppa…stay a bit.

Red Velvet Dress Keeping tabs on the sleeping baby

Over the summer I went on a knit fabric buying binge with the intent of sewing cardis for the spring. A pretty spotty one made its way into my Girl Charlee virtual basket. When it arrived I realized that it was pretty slinky. Luckily the spotty spandex nylon wasn’t forgotten in my stash. After putting together the PDF (the tiles all lined up and came together effortlessly) I stood looking at it for a bit and instantly thought, “Polka!”

Red Velvet Dress

I thought I was going to have a bear of a time getting the tension correct on my machine but I didn’t. A ballpoint needle and a few adjustments on the machine was all I needed to get things rolling. I followed the instructions except for applying the fusible tape to the neckline. Darn it! I forgot (twice! I forgot on my muslin as well). And unfortunately it shows. My neckline doesn’t lay flat.

Red Velvet Dress

But you know what does? My fabulous hem! I can count on my hand how few times I get a wrinkle-free, crisp hem. Using the fusible tape helped immensely when sewing up the hem. I’m a convert now and am looking to stock up on it. So yeah, buy it, you won’t regret it!

Red Velvet Dress The 4-way stretch in the fabric offers a wonderful drape, adding a lot of swish to hip movements. Sexy. The modifications I made to the dress were pretty minimal since you’re able to customize the pattern. I added an inch to the sleeve width; shortened midriff pieces by 1.5 inches. And added 2 inches to bodice.

Red Velvet Dress

I did a no-no and used a completely different fabric for my muslin: a stable cotton mix jersey that I got at a charity shop in my old neighborhood. Nothing close to how the spandex nylon would behave. But you know what, I’m a rebel. But really I just wanted to get an idea of how construction would go more than fit. So after spending an hour or so trying to lay it flat I knew why its previous owner had abandoned it. But no worries, I showed it who was boss.

Red Velvet DressHow do the hairs look? My husband trimmed them for me.

You might be thinking this slice of cake looks different. If so you are correct. I forgot to attach the midriff pieces. D’oh! Happy mistake, I say. Not only does the fabric make it feel like a different dress but now, so does the fit.

Red Velvet Dress

There you have it: two slices of cake from one pattern. I’m happy. Consider me a Sewing Cake fan. The other Sewing Cake patterns I own just went up my queue. If you’re curious about more of my stats on this dress check them out here.

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day here in the States. Because it’s my first I wanted to mark it with something special. I whipped up my first garment of the year (crazy, right?) and made Ollie a matching bow tie.

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The fabric came from a lovely shop in Edinburgh during a meetup there. I was stuck with not knowing what to use it for. But recently it hit me: circle skirt. And it proved to be the best project to flex my sewing foot. Now I won’t be too nervous about approaching my other projects.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Feeling Stripey

Ever since I acquired some stripey jersey fabric from the lovely Rehanon at a swap, I knew I wanted to make it into a skirt. And today was finally the day! Using a maternity skirt that I specifically bought to use as a pattern, I whipped it up this morning.

Stripey Maternity Skirt

There’s not much to say about the project. It was fast, easy and just what the morning called for.The skirt only has one seam and I am happy that I managed to match the stripes. I encased some elastic for the waistband and that’s it. I had the perfect amount of fabric (a meter-ish, I think) and enough left over for a nifty headband. Sweet.

Happy Monday!

A Babydoll Dress Fit for a Baby…Bump

The Sew U Home Stretch book has been making the rounds in the blogosphere (totally check out Karen’s, Winnie’s and Rachel’s garments). I totally understand why: the book comes with basic pattern pieces and instructions on how to manipulate them to make various types of garments. I wanted another comfy bump-friendly knit dress so I went with the babydoll pattern. Before getting started I had to grade the pattern up, like usual. I added 6 inches to the bust and 8 inches to the waist. Of course, suffering from baby brain (it’s real, y’all. I forget stuff mid-sentence!) I forgot to grade up the sleeve! Of course I didn’t realize this until after I finished making the dress. D’oh! There’s a wee bit of strain on the bodice from the tight sleeve but it’s not awful. And still totally wearable.

Baby Doll Dress

I always have issues when sewing. I’m prone to making stupid mistakes. You name it, I do it. This time around I had issues with the neckband. It was pretty thick so stitching in the ditch proved quite tricky. After unpicking twice, and stretching out the neckline a bit (I need to stop doing that!), I decided I hated the finish. I cut it out and went with a thicker neckband, which I quite like the look of.

Baby Doll DressI had to take my photo shoot indoors after some unsuccessful fuzzy photos outside.

Changes for next time (because I am totally making another one):

1. Taking an inch off the back bodice. My back is smaller than the front, so there was a bit of a gape at the neck. I unfortunately couldn’t get a clear photo of this.
2. Either leave the sleeves out or grade the sleeve up a bit and leave the puffiness out. I’m not quite in love with the extra volume on my already voluminous biceps. Ya, know.
3. Adjust for the bump: see about lengthening the front skirt so it doesn’t look shorter than the back.

I’m looking forward to making more garments from the book. Having very few successful attempts at knit, I will classify this dress as a win! It’s comfy, fast to sew together and cute to boot.

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I want to give a very special thanks to Evie from Pendle Stitches for gifting me with a lovely pattern and cardigan for baby boy. I was so thrilled to have received such a wonderful gift…I cried. Maybe it was the hormones but I’m quite the sap usually.

Our little babe got its first gift today! Such a sweet cardi made by a blogger friend, Evie from Pendle Stitches.

And to continue the feeling of an early Christmas and giving, I won a giveaway from Maider and got a parcel of goodies. Thanks, Maider!

Lovely giveaway pressies: fabric, poster and makeup bag. Feels like Christmas!

All this receiving means it’s time for me to give back. I need to work on hosting a giveaway ASAP! More on that later.

Papa Don’t Preach

I am very thankful for Rachel and her help with Simplicity 1998. With her help I managed to save it…kinda. After unpicking the neck binding the fabric stretched out quite a bit. And I was given the advice (thanks IngeMaat) to steam the heck out of it to make the fabric recover.

Simplicity 1998

Unfortunately I forgot to do it. Totally forgot. And after attaching the neck binding for the fourth time since starting this dress, well, I wasn’t going to unpick it. But that’s okay. I will be sporting the boatneck/Madonna-circa-Papa-Don’t-Preach look. And I am okay with that.

Simplicity 1998

Rachel measured me, all of me: high bust, full bust, shoulder width, hip to floor, etc. With these figures we realized that my initial cutting of size 22 was oh so wrong. I ended up needing a size 14 at the neck, left the arms at 22 for length, an 18 at the bust and waist and 20 at the hips. The dress is definitely not swallowing me like before.

Simplicity 1998

It’s roomy in the back but not too much.

Simplicity 1998

I’m quite happy with the results. I got a wearable dress and the fabric was not wasted. The neckline could have been better but I can live with the 80s look.

Simplicity 1998

Making this dress made my bad sewing habits come out front and center.

1. I very rarely measure the flat pattern and compare the measurements against my own. Had I done this I would have seen that there was 16 inches of ease built into size 22! Just so you know, the size 22 was for a high bust of 44 and I’m 43.5 so I wasn’t wrong to go with 22. I was wrong to think the ease was minimal.

2. I never pull or manipulate my fabric to make sure the grain lines are even. Bad Mela.

3. I wish I would remember to use a pressing cloth. I always end up with shiny bits on my fabric. Yuck!

4. I want to learn to love the rotary cutter. Cutting knit would be so much easier if I would just learn to use one properly.

5. Fitting would go so much easier if I basted my stitches, checked the fit and went from there.

6. I must start looking up the proper settings for my machine depending on the fabric I’m using. And find out the proper needle size. I initially used a jersey needle in size 75/11 but it kept skipping stitches. After a bit of research I went with 80/12 and it worked perfectly.

Thank you Rachel for your help. And thank you Simplicity 1998 for making me realize I have some bad sewing habits to work on.

Groovy, baby!

A week ago today I was making pants…the British kind!

I made pants! The British kind :)

Thank you to the beautiful Winnie for inviting me for an awesome crafty day in Bath. I apologize that it has taken me so long to say thanks. I’ve been a little distracted this week making two muslins and a dress! But before I go on to tell you about them I have to give you a bit back story on why I decided to make this particular pattern.

Something has been popping up among sewing bloggers for the last few months. Stitch and Witter has it. As does Thread Carefully, True Bias, and Julia Bobbins. Even Casey of Elegant Musings has one! Well I am here to throw my name into the list cause I got one too!

Here I am sporting my new groovy 1970s dress and wee bump. Sixteen weeks gone, twenty-four to go!

Final version of Simplicity 8670 in Liberty cotton and Japanese lace

The maternity pattern I used looked very straight-forward but I was still really nervous about cutting into my Liberty fabric without some practice. So much so that I made two wearable(ish) muslins. I graded the pattern from a bust size 40 to 42 but soon found out the amount of ease would have made the dress fit fine without any big changes. The yoke was so baggy I added a keyhole of sorts to try and take the puffiness away. It sorta worked. But the shoulders are definitely still far too wide.

Muslin #1 for Simplicity 8670 (vintage 1970)

Thank goodness for cardigans and sweaters. They hide lots of issues: chubby arms, back boobs, baggy yokes, you know, the usual.

Muslin #1 for Simplicity 8670 (vintage 1970)

So for muslin numero dos I went with a bust size 40. And I shoulda (coulda woulda) taken in the shoulders by half an inch or so but laziness won out. I didn’t want to mess with the armscye because I didn’t want to adjust the sleeve. Boy was that dumb. I didn’t even use the sleeves. They were a bit too groovytastic, if you know what I mean. Sadly this second version kind of reminds me of the uniform used by the reptile aliens in the movie V.

Muslin #2 for Simplicity 8670 (vintage 1970)

Yeah. Not amused, there. The black poplin I used also has a sheen to it. Reminds me of a garbage bag. Not cute. Will I wear it? Maybe. Big maybe. But this wreck was totally worth it because this beauty came from all that practice.

Final version of Simplicity 8670 in Liberty cotton and Japanese lace

This was my first time sewing with Liberty fabric. You read/hear people say “It was a dream to sew with” and it’s true. Totally not an overrated statement. It’s the butter of fabrics. Love it, want more of it, please, thank you. And holy moly does this fabric make this dress look…well…pricey. As it should because Liberty fabric doesn’t come cheap. Worth every freaking penny.

Final version of Simplicity 8670 in Liberty cotton and Japanese lace

For the yoke I used some lovely Japanese lace I bought from Etsy. I initially bought it to make an Ava top. Thankfully I have loads left over for when I decide to make another one.

Final version of Simplicity 8670 in Liberty cotton and Japanese lace

I made some bias binding for the shoulders. I really love the contrast between the binding and the yoke. So delicate and pretty.

Final version of Simplicity 8670 in Liberty cotton and Japanese lace

I actually patted myself in the back and sighed with relief once I was done with the centered zip. You can’t see but I lined the dress and was deathly afraid of really cocking up at this stage. Luckily it all went smoothly.

So there you have it: pants, two muslins, a dress, and a wee babe. No one can say I’m not productive. With that said I am really looking forward to learning on how to make this curvy body delicious maternity wear. Because let’s face it, the chub doesn’t get much love in the maternity clothes department. And I refuse to be a fashion victim just because my stomach will be four times its size in a few months :)

Party Makes

I love hosting parties. I really really do. I am a born feeder, always baking and sharing the results. So when it came down to finding a place to host a little sewist summer party, I volunteered. I had a blast making the decorations and baking a few bits.

Inspired by a few fabric garlands on Pinterest, I made my own. It used quite a bit of scraps and can easily be put away and used again for other parties. Highly recommended! It’s very shabby chic and brightens up a space quite well.

Summer Sewist Soirée

My me-made napkins finally got some use. I made these when I first started sewing so they have a special place in my heart. I kept them away in the linen closet and finally decided to bring them out. They are quite bright and cheery and dressed up the table nicely.

Summer Sewist Soirée

A party ain’t a party without some sweets…

Summer Sewist Soirée

Summer Sewist Soirée

Or savory bits…

Summer Sewist Soirée

So those are just a few snapshots of what I made. I also played bartender and made some cocktails, including a gin concoction that I need to replicate again so I can share the recipe. It’s much too good to keep to myself. Once I round up some gin I will try as many times possible until I get the cocktail right. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make :).

I am a true believer that sharing is caring. So for now I will leave you with the recipe for my go-to *honey margarita. Cheers!

Fill a 14 oz. shaker with the following ingredients:
2 oz. Hurradura Reposado
Splash of Cointreau
1 oz Honey
2 oz. Fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. Fresh squeezed orange juice
Squeeze half of a lime
Cover, shake and pour over ice in a martini glass.

*recipe adapted from a Blue Mesa Grill Agave Nectar Margarita recipe.