Christmas Renfrew Tee

Christmas Renfrew Tee

When I placed my first (and so far only… the shipping to Canada is killer!) Girl Charlee order this summer, I included 2 yards of this AMAZING faux-fair-isle Christmas print. It seemed a little crazy in August, but oh well. I bought 2 yards of this, and a few yards of plain white, with the plan of combining them – white sleeves or collar on something. When I finally pulled it all out, I realized that I could just fit a 3/4 sleeve cowl-neck Renfrew tee in my size (6) out of the whole 2 yards of reindeer fabric, and even do some fabric matching! (the pattern envelope says 3 yards) I cut the front & back body first by folding the selvedges in to the middle, and cutting on those two folds, then I went back to standard fold-in-half to cut the other pieces out.  I thought about which design band I wanted running across my chest – reindeer, obviously. Go big or go home!

There’s been a little detail in all the Renfrews I’ve made so far (3!) that I haven’t show on the blog. I don’t have any 1/4″ elastic or twill tape or anything to stabilize the shoulders, but I do have some pretty printed 5/8″ twill tape I bought on Etsy ages ago. I think I intended it for embellishments on greeting cards.

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My blue Renfrew has a script alphabet tape, I chose the apples for this one as they’re appropriately Christmas-y coloured.

I made sure to line up the underarms on the front and back on the same line in the pattern, and look at this side seam!
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Bam! The other side seam is funny – the Fair Isle bands line up just fine, but as the width of the pieces isn’t something I could change without affecting fit, there’s a weird two-butts-no-head reindeer. I was also pretty successful matching the sleeve caps to the body, and I even ripped one out and did it again to make it match better. Yay knits stretching where you need them to! I chose to match the band of red hearts as the main point on the sleeve caps, because (due to curves) it’ll never be all perfect.

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I also managed to cut the sleeve and hem bands so each one had a perfect row of reindeer prancing along them! I wasn’t concerned with where I cut the cowl pieces from, as it ends up all ruggledy around your neck anyway, although I wasn’t sure which way up things should be pointing. Should the inside piece be the same way up as the body pieces? I think I chose to have the outside bit the right way up, so when I pull it up to my nose and say “LOOK I MADE DIS” I’m a continuous column of reindeer stripes.

I love this season just obnoxiously enough that I will wear this multiple times, and not even only for special occasions/events. How about “it’s Thursday! Let’s wear reindeer!”?

I find it so hard to find jersey here that I probably will make more orders from Girl Charlee, I just have to work up the stomach to look at the shipping costs.

Weaving Weekend at Market Collective!

So, I know I missed Weaving Wednesday this week… I was weaving too hard!
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Because of that my table at the Market Collective looks like this!

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There’s a few little non-wovens as well, just in case that’s your thing. Origami Christmas ornaments, some recycled chiffon ribbon (great for wrapping presents!) and baker’s twine spools.

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OK, and a weaving close-up of a newer one. I love the checkerboard near the top!

If you’re in the Calgary area, come visit this weekend!

Weaving Wednesday

All these weavings will be available at the Market Collective at the Chinese Cultural Centre December 12-14th! None of the weavings pictured have been mounted on hanging bars yet, but they will be by market time.

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I went for simple and graphic for this one.

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This one uses handpainted yarn scraps and a sample of a great wool/mohair roving. It makes me think of tulips and the circus at the same time!

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And for a change, an in-progress shot! I found these yarns all together in a bag at the thrift store, and just had to keep the colours together. They’re all different textures, which is so fun.

Clear that Clutter!

I’ve been on a (very slow) decluttering/simplifying kick for a year or two now. It isn’t that I haven’t bought anything in that time (boy, have I!) but I have been trying to look at what I own critically. Our condo is 900 square feet, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but it feels crowded.

I’ve been taking things to various resale places fairly regularly, and I keep a bag by the front hall closet that is just for stuff to be donated. I generally take books to Fairs Fair, because they’ll give you store credit, I take my nicer clothes to Rewind Consignment (although they refused an awesome pair of boots a couple weeks ago), and everything else, plus the stuff the first two places didn’t take, goes to Value Village. Oh, and I list yarn and fibre in my for-sale-stash on Ravelry!

I had a few things that I thought were worth something to people, more than I’d get at the bookstore, so I decided to dust off my old eBay account!

For the knitters, I’m destashing 3 Rowan magazines, #34, 38, and 40.

For the paper crafters, I’m destashing 3 Magnolia Ink Magazines (the very first 3, I believe).

For Trollbeads fans (or fans-to-be) I’ve got a plain sterling silver bracelet including the basic lock!

Does getting these 7 things out of my house make it feel any less cluttered? Not really, they don’t add up to much total space, but knowing that 7 (more) things are out/on the way out makes me think of knitting – each tiny stitch adds up to a sweater. Maybe in a few more months it’ll be more noticeable!

And do any Calgary friends know if there is any consignment place for home items? Mixing bowls and the like?

Weaving Wednesday!

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I love the colours in this guy! What I love so much about this one is that I spun the yarn myself! I had some natural roving, and a few neon samples that I spun in randomly. I wove this just as the colours came out of the ball, no editing. The natural wool is so lovely and rustic, I love the contrast with the neons.

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This guy is so fluffy! It makes me think of clouds or something. I used a really neat yarn, that was already a big knitted tube. I think actually knitting with it would be awkward, but it makes great pouffy accents for a wall hanging. Some hangings are on copper pipe, but I loved the colour of a natural dowel for this one.

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The texture on this one is great, it really needs to be seen in person. The navy yarn is luxuriously soft, and the speckled-y oatmeal is fuzzy and curly.

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Come see me at the Market Collective December 12th- 14th!

Feminine Dress Book – View C3

I have 3 Japanese sewing pattern books that I bought earlier this year (like really earlier – February) and when I needed wanted a new dress back in October, I decided to use one of those patterns. I picked view C3, the dress on the cover.

Now I’ve browsed these books a lot, even though I haven’t made anything up to this point. I had tons of post-its sticking out of my copy, because there are so many cute patterns! I’ve also read sewing blogs about sewing these patterns. So I knew that there was ease. And not just ease, but ease. Feminine Wardrobe is different than my other two books (Stylish Dress Book and Sweet Dress Book) in that it has a page where it gives you finished garment measurements. All three books have a size chart that puts me as the second-largest size, an M (they go from XS – L). I knew enough to be skeptical… My bust measurement is only 34″!

The finished measurement of C3 in size M is said to be 37 3/8″. The XS is 33 1/2″, the S is 35 3/8″ (the other finished measurements give are length and sleeve length). I waffled between making the XS and the S – I had decided to use a stable(ish) knit fabric from Fabricland, so I knew there’d be some stretch if I went too tight. In the end I decided to go for the S, for a little bit of ease, as that is how the styles in these books are meant to be worn.

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It turned out pretty cute! I quite like the sleeve, although it is hilariously big before putting the elastic in the cuff casing, I should’ve taken a picture of one arm with, one without. I like the bow at the front, although there are so many layers there, I felt like it didn’t quite lay right. You’ve got your pleated dress fabric (3 layers at the centre), the bow overlay, the facing (I used the same knit fabric, interfaced with a woven interfacing), and both ends of the tube that is the centre of the bow (that’s 4 layers on its own!!). I wasn’t sure what I could grade out or not, so it feels like it is sticking out 6″ from my chest. I also felt like the neckline at the shoulders has more height than an average item of clothing for the same reason.

I wore the dress to opening night as styled above – with a belt. Below, for posterity, is a picture of the finished dress sans belt:

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It’s a tent! I actually did a review of this make on my podcast as well, in Episode 44. It is near the beginning, just in case you aren’t interested in my knitting as well. The largeness really shows up on the video.

The chest measurement of this dress is closer to 39″, not the 35″ promised. That is with the pleats all lying nicely flat, and without the knit stretched at all! Maybe it stretched out from handling before I sewed it?

If I were to sew this again, I’d do the smallest size, and maybe even save myself the hassle of adding seam allowances, and just sew it as is to trim off an inch more.

Have you used Japanese sewing patterns before?

Weaving up a storm

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When I was a kid, my mum ran the Christmas craft fair in our town. I insisted on having my own table when I was about 5, and from then on I did a few different crafts over the years. I started out with origami ornaments, moved on to rolled candles, then poured candles (I was making candles in vintage teacups when I was 11, take that, today’s hipsters! ;))

I haven’t done a fair in years, but I have always missed them. Etsy is lovely, but I do love the atmosphere of selling at craft fairs, even though I’m definitely an introvert, and am not generally in to talking with strangers. If I’m talking about things I’ve made, I can do that for ages!

This summer I discovered the joy of weaving on a lap loom, and I also volunteered for the Market Collective weekend at the beginning of September. I took the entrance fees for a few hours each morning, and it was great to see so many people excited about handmade goods (ok, maybe some were more excited about the food trucks ;))

That weekend, I decided that I’d apply to the next Market Collective I could fit into my schedule. That’s the problem with my job – I’m usually working weekends! Luckily, MC is doing 3 weekends in December, so I could pick one I wasn’t otherwise working on!

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I’m doing the weekend of December 12th – 14th!

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I’ll have my woven wall hangings for sale! I’ve been working away on these, and have decided that to get people excited, and to give myself a goal, Wednesdays will be weaving Wednesdays on the blog, and I’ll feature a few of the weavings I’ve made in the previous weeks.

I’m really excited to go back to craft fairs! I’ve got a Square reader, so I’ll be able to take credit card payments – I still remember mum’s chunka-chunka machine that did the carbon imprint of credit cards, back in the day!

If you’re in the Calgary area, come visit!

Megan Dress (in crazy iris print!)

Iris-print Megan Dress

So almost 4 months ago I said I was ‘so excited!’ to make another Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I’ve finally started it!

I’m not sure if I can call it a Megan dress though. I’ve used the Megan bodice, but I’ve added a waistband because I want to put a different skirt on it. I like dresses that are fuller on the bottom, I’m never usually comfortable in straighter dresses. I realize that as I’m sewing my own, I could make the bottom a different size to fit me better… but I just like volume on the bottom!

Speaking of volume, this fabric is turned up to 11! As I was cutting into it, it really hit me how crazy it is. I was wishing I had some solid black cotton to use for the waistband, but I don’t have much of a fabric stash, and solids? pfft, boring!

So, to define the band, I pulled out my box of vintage seam bindings and things, and found some ricrac in a grey-ish blue that is in some of the irises. I figured that if the whole dress is already crazy, why not pump up the crazy with some trim? I sewed the ricrac on to the band piece first, lining up a dip in the zigzag with the 5/8″ seam allowance. Then I sewed it to the bodice by stitching exactly along that line. Just the perfect amount of the little triangles show!

So for the skirt, I was originally thinking of using the Clemence pattern I drafted, and made up in cotton from the same line, but now I’m wondering about using the pleated skirt from the Lilou dress in Tilly’s book. I’ve seen a couple of those hacks on Pinterest, so I think it will work.

Last time I made Megan, the fit in the top wasn’t the best, and I was contemplating all these fancy edits and adjustments, but a couple friends talked me in to just making the next size up, which is what I’ve done here, I’ve made the 4 instead of the 3. It is hard to tell with no zip, so I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, did I mention I want to wear this on Thursday?

Clemence Self-Drafted Skirt

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I sewed a Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch! This ‘pattern’ is not actually a pattern, but a guide on how to draft your own skirt pattern, based on your own measurements! Tilly made it a lovely and clear process. Luckily I had saved a couple old fold-out maps from the recycling bin, when I remembered that this was a pattern I wanted to try, so my pattern pieces are old maps of Vancouver, which is fun.

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I did a contrast waistband facing, and contrast pockets, just because I could. I had plenty of the blue patterned quilting cotton, but I also had some green scraps leftover from wedding projects (this green was fabric I used for leaves on our paper flowers).

I definitely wanted pockets, but I also wanted French seams, so I used this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully! It was a little bit magical to have everything line up and for there to be no raw edges anywhere.

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I was much happier with this invisible zip than the one in my Megan Dress muslin. The big difference? I bought an actual invisible zipper foot, I didn’t try to muddle on through with my plain zipper foot.

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I used quilting cotton, which actually gives the skirt and all those gathers a good bit of body. I have a lot of skirts this shape, because I think they suit me – I’m already bigger on the bottom, what’s a few more gathers? Pencil skirts make me uncomfy. The funny thing about this skirt though, is that it has so much body that it stands out and doesn’t touch the back of my thighs. Storebought skirts in this shape still at least brush the backs of my thighs when I walk, so I know the skirt is still down where it should be. Not feeling that while walking in this skirt had me obsessively checking that I hadn’t tucked it unto my underwear all day!

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Twirl!

Skirts are rectangles. Did you know this?!

Finished Fantasy Renfrew Cowlneck Tee

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After the triumphant feeling of sewing my first knit tee, I treated myself to a paid pattern. I’d had my eye on the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee for a while, because I had heard that their patterns were drafted for ladies with small bust measurements compared to their hips. Basically – drafted for me. And, it’s fun to support a Vancouver-based business, yay Canadians!

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The fabric is from GirlCharlee, and I loved it so much I bought 6 yards! It is a fantasy doodle print, that reminds me of the covers of some editions of Tolkein’s books. There’s mountains, waves, trees, jumping fish, hills, all in a thin black line doodle on a nice heathered medium blue.

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The great thing about the Renfrew pattern (well, apart from the fact that I didn’t have to grade it to 3 sizes larger for my hips) is that they use self-fabric bands to finish all the edges! No trying to keep hem edges straight! No double needle!

I’ve been using a zig zag stitch to sew all my knit seams so far, and one day I was looking through my sewing machine’s manual to try to figure out which tension knobs did what. While doing that, I found that my machine also has a 3-step zigzag, which it claimed was great for stretch fabrics. I’ve been using that stitch, and it is wonderful, and neat, if a bit slow. The difference between zigzag and the 3-step zigzag is that for a regular zigzag, each zig (or zag) is 1 stitch. With the 3-step it takes 3 stitches to zig, then 3 stitches to zag back again. I also find it much neater than the regular zigzag but that may just be because I played more to get just the right tension setting.

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(I think of this photo as a Scruffy Badger face :))

I’m also really happy I bought this pattern because you get 3 sleeve lengths, and 3 neckline options to mix and match! I did the 3/4 sleeves, and cowl neck, although the sleeves are closer to elbow length on me. I cut a size 6 and it was just right. I may make the body 1/2″ to 1″ shorter next time though.

And of course, a picture of me reading my favourite copy of my favourite book:

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Finished Chain Plantain

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I ordered a whole shwack of knits from GirlCharlee.com over the summer, because I was so inspired by all the sewing blogs I’d just started devouring, and by all the tutorials that claimed you didn’t need a serger. Then the envelope of cuddly knits arrived, and I couldn’t bear to cut in to any of them, in case I ruined something. So I dug in my stash box, and found this chainlink knit that I bought 7, yes 7 years ago, the last time I thought I’d get in to sewing.

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The print is a little crazy. Crazy large! I’d seen a DVF wrap dress made out of it, and immediately wanted it. So I have a lot of this mad fabric. And it isn’t cotton, it is slinky and a little sweaty (I so rarely wear anything but mostly-natural fibres, so I may be extra sensitive to that). But I had it, and I didn’t mind cutting right in to it. I decided to use a free pattern for my first attempt at knits, so I used the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, which is a tee with various sleeve lengths, elbow patches, and a swingy shape.

I cut out a size 38, which seem to fit just right. I had some equally slinky black knit that I used for the neck binding and elbow patches.

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I used a double needle on the hem, cuffs and neckband. I fiddled with the various tension knobs on my machine and some scraps for quite a while, and finally got on with it even though I don’t think things are quite right. The stitching looks pretty even from the outside, but on the inside it is a little crazy. I think the problem is that I know where the tension knobs are on the machine, I just don’t know which controls what, and if higher means tighter, or lower does.

I’m so happy with it! Even if the print is a little cruise-tastic. I LOVE elbow patches, so that little oval is probably going to see some good use. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure out where to put patches on sleeves from other patterns though – these were clearly marked, and magically offset so everything ended up in just the right place. To trace the shape on to the sleeve, so I could sew the patches in the right place, I actually cut out that piece on the sleeve pattern piece, then traced around the inside with a disappearing marker, like a stencil.

This shirt was a great introduction to knits, and it really helped that I was working with a fabric I cared less about than the new ones I’d just bought. Sadly, I broke my double needle almost immediately after finishing this top. My sewing machine has the regular setting, where your needle is in the middle of the foot, and one where it is to the extreme left of the hole in the foot (this is where it goes to when it zig zags). The pictographs on the dial look very similar for straight-stitch and straight-stitch-left, so when I went to play with the tension some more, I didn’t notice that the needle was in its left position, so I snapped off half the double needle. First time I’ve broken a needle like that!

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And finally, a pose more often found featuring swimsuit models under waterfalls. I just had to show off those elbow patches some more!

 

What are your favourite knit sewing patterns? I want to sew everything now!

Knitting = Ravelry, Sewing = ?

What I really think the internet needs next, is a “Ravelry” for sewists. I love having my yarn stash pictured and linked so I can browse through. I love the queue and favourites features so I can remember what patterns I want to make. I want something like that for fabric and sewing patterns!
I haven’t really found anything like that yet, so I decided to try to use Pinterest. My biggest thing was that it needed to be nice and visual. I could have saved the jpgs in a folder on my computer, but that (a) isn’t accessible when I’m not home (b) is hard to leave notes, and (c) I just don’t like browsing through thumbnails like that. One of my other issues is knowing how many yards of fabric I bought. Most fabric stores still write you a paper receipt, which usually gets lost or recycled. If it doesn’t get lost, it usually just has a list like:

  • fabric, 3m
  • fabric, 2m
  • fabric, 3m

Not very helpful.

Also, sometimes I’m proactive, and throw new fabric in the wash as soon as I get home. Then months later I go to start a project, and can’t remember if I’ve washed it yet. Pinterest to the rescue!

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I created a board called Sewing – My Fabric Stash, and then pinned some fabric I’d bought. Online orders are great, because if you forget the yardage, you can log in and see your invoice! Sadly, that rule only applied to my latest/first GirlCharlee knits purchase.

The description of each pin is basically whatever I could gather from the selvedges and websites. It is nice to have the width, the type of fabric, stretch (for knits) and sometimes you can figure out the designer. Some, like the navy owl fabric, just say “Japanese Owl fabric bought at Britex”.

Then, I comment on my own Pins. Uncouth, I know! The first comment is the number of yards, because this is one of the most important things to know, and the first thing I know. Then I leave a separate comment if I’ve washed it (with a date, because, why not?) and then as I use things, I’ll update comments. That faux Fair Isle flannel’s last comment is ‘ALL USED UP SEPT 2014 PJ PANTS’. Capitals so it is obvious. I’m still undecided whether it is better to delete used up things or not though.

It didn’t fit in the screencap, but on the black and blue chainlink fabric, there’s a second comment that says ‘2 yards used, Deer & Doe Plantain top, 2 TOTAL LEFT’. Now I can know all these things at a glance!

I’ve also got other sewing boards set up – Sewing – Patterns I Own, and Sewing Pattern Queue. The former is pretty self explanatory, and much easier than flipping through pattern envelopes (that are not all stored in the same place, sigh) and pdfs on the computer, and the latter is for patterns I want to make but haven’t bought yet, and for pinning blog posts where people have made modifications I like. I just wish I could move pins around in their order, so I could put different pins for the same project near each other.

Faux Fair Isle Margot PJs

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I went out the other day to a new-to-me fabric shop. It was a little silly that I’ve never been there before, as it is directly across from the Fabricland I always go to!

I was looking for a double needle for sewing knits (which I used, and loved! And then broke, all in one day.). I found the needle, then decided to browse the fabric selection: as with every fabric store in town that I’ve visited… their focus was quilting. Now I’m not against a good print, or even a crazy print, but I would like to expand my sewing experience with some different types of fabrics. Or even try sewing something in a lighter-weight cotton! But I browsed the store anyway, because I can still appreciate a good print. I wandered in to the flannel section, and saw this:

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Fair Isle flannel! Love! I immediately thought of a new pair of PJ pants, and thought I’d try out Tilly’s Margot Pyjamas from Love at First Stitch. I did a quick search on my phone, but couldn’t find anywhere online that listed the yardage needed, so I bought 2m, and that adorable green mushroom fat quarter, and went home. I had thought the mushrooms might make a cute pocket. (If you want your own faux-fair-isle-jimjams, you can find this same fabric for half the price I paid on fabric.com. There’s also a grey/black/red colourway, and some actual yarn and needles themed flannel too.)

When I laid out the fabric on my kitchen island to cut, I realized that the way it is printed, if I were to cut out the way you usually lay out fabric, the stripes would be running vertically up my legs. Beetlejuice-pants-style. No thanks. Also, the pattern actually calls for 2.5m of 45″ wide fabric.

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Fine! Fabric is threads running 90 degrees to each other, right? I just need to line up the grainline 90 degrees to where it would normally be! I checked, and this is correct  but you should let garments cut like this hang before hemming because it may stretch out more. Sadly, the fabric wasn’t wide enough for the pattern pieces. Even though I’m so short.

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I’m short, and stubborn, because I really wanted to make those pants, from that pattern. So I did what any fairly new sewist would do, and drafted myself a waistband pattern. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough, so I decided that the waistband would have the uppy-downy stripes, and the rest of the pants would be sideways stripes. I just traced off TIlly’s pattern, making sure to include a seam allowance on both the pant and band pieces (I used 3/8″ to preserve that tiny bit more fabric!), and then sewed all the bands on to all the leg pieces. Voila, like I’d cut it out of one piece anyway!

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The back leg is longer than the front leg, because the back leg has room for your bum. (The back leg is also wider than the front leg. I was worried I had cut my fronts & backs in two different sizes, until I noticed the bit where Tilly says that the bits may not match up,  you just have to line of up the raw edges and all will be well.) My new front leg piece, a few inches shorter because of the waistband, fit on the width of my fabric. My back leg piece did not. So I decided I’d use the mushroom fat quarter at the bottom. I didn’t feel up to figuring out where to attach it, and how much would show, and all that, so I cut out my legs (which were now different lengths) and figured I would put everything together as-is, leaving a couple inches of the bottom side-seams unsewn to make it easier to sew the cuff fabric in later. Not the easiest way to do it, but I wanted to focus on making sure the waistband issue was ok first. That, and I was harbouring a secret hope that because I’m so short, the shortened leg would actually work out to be the right length for me.

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I made a stripe-matching snafu because I’d picked a point and thought to myself “Right, line up the crotch of each piece with the green pointy line in the fabric, and we’re good.” Turns out, there are multiple green pointy lines in the fabric, and I chose a different one for the back leg, so my side-seams don’t match up.

The pattern was lovely, and I can see how easy it would be if you hadn’t added 8 more pieces of fabric to sew, like I did. I love the way the waistband folds in and makes the perfect little drawstring casing and opening. I have a large roll of that apple green grosgrain leftover from wedding crafts (still!), and it was just the right colour for a drawstring.

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Above I’m sewing down the waistband fold/drawstring channel. You can see the seam where horizontal meets vertical.

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All in all the pants are a little wonky, a little crazy, and so cozy. I could have thought more about adding the cuffs, so my stitching line would have been higher up, and not in the middle of the green, I’m counting these as a win over all. They were the perfect thing to be sewing as we had a September snowstorm (what was UP WITH THAT?!).

Do you love flannel PJs as much as I do? Especially handmade ones!

Love at First Stitch

Last month, P and I went on a trip to England. We did all sorts of fun things that maybe I’ll get around to talking about here some time, but one of my goals while I was there was to pick up Love at First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes.

I’d watched the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last year or whenever it came out, and thought she was just great. Then I heard she had a blog, so I added that to my Feedly list. Since I was following the blog now, I knew there was a book coming, and I was looking jealously at finished objects all over the web because it hasn’t been released in North America yet! That won’t happen until mid-October. But, as I was out there on a trip in June…. We stopped by the new Foyle’s flagship (which is a wonder unto itself) and I picked up a copy a few days before we left (hey, I wasn’t going to cart more books around than I needed to for 3 weeks!).

Now, I have sewn before. Most of the time, it ended in tears. The sewing machine I use was a Christmas gift when I was about 9. Mum was a big sewist, but I never really got into it – I wanted every other craft but. I even did some sewing in university – in class! Theatre degree, remember? You have to take at least some basic costume classes (the semester after that we nailed bits of wood together and practiced not cutting fingers off on the table saw in carpentry class).

I decided that maybe this summer was the summer I’d really do it, really sew things that I would actually wear. The book is so well laid out, that it walks you through from easy-peasy firstie projects to a hand-drafted skirt and a lined dress. I felt way too impatient, so I jumped in on the simpler dress in the book, Megan.

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I have fabric that I actually want this dress in, and some other fabric that I had earmarked ages ago for another project. I decided to use the leaf/frog print as my muslin, not only to test the fit, but to dust off the few rusty skills I have. The embarrassing thing about about the frog fabric? When I was writing this post, I flicked through the ‘Sewing’ archives on the blog and found I bought it in 2007. Jeez. The Irises are from last summer, so they’re almost new comparatively!

Anyway, blah blah blah I MADE A DRESS. IT FITS. IT HAS AN INVISIBLE ZIP. (DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT THE BUM. That end of the zip is hard to do).

Explorer Dress!

Explorer Dress!

Although I bought the fabric (7 years ago…) to make into a project to wear outside the house… I’m not sure I’ll wear this outside. It was a great practice piece, it made me so confident! I installed a zip! Setting in the sleeves was pretty easy! The more I worked with the fabric though, the more I kept thinking of hospital gown/scrubs. I think the slight texture, which is almost seersucker-y, reminded of of textured paper gowns or something? Or maybe that was the fact I kept trying it on before I put the zip on, so it was like one of those backless gowns.

I did the size 3, but traced out to the size 4 for my rear (my hips aren’t the problem, it’s all the butt!) and it fits mostly quite well.

My only issues are that the back neckline stands out a bit from my body, which I think I know how to fix. (I may make that adjustment in a bodice in this fabric again, just to test.) The cap sleeves are a little tight when I try to move my arms up, I can feel them starting to bind a bit even to type this (yes, I’m wearing it while writing. No, I’m not sitting in an ergonomically correct position. Yes, that might be contributing). That’s a problem I have with most non-stretchy ready-to-wear garments though – apparently I have giant muscle-y biceps?

The next dress will be neater because I’ve done it once before already (OMG), and the fabric is more conducive to ironing. The texture on this fabric flattens out when you iron it, so for the first little while I wasn’t pressing as much as I should’ve. When I made the choice partway through that I wouldn’t be wearing this outside the house, I got more liberal with the iron, not caring so much if I flattened bits of it out.

I am so excited to do version #2, and then so many more projects! I want to sew a whole wardrobe for myself! Do you sew? Have you ever considered it? It is so much faster than knitting – even taking it sloooow, this dress only took a week. I couldn’t knit this much fabric in a week!

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Oven Fajitas – cool for summer

The husband is back in town, so I am suddenly much more interested in cooking (having survived on a diet consisting of oatmeal, cheese, and fried eggs for a lot of the time he was away). Yesterday I was the first home from work, so it was my turn to make dinner. I’d already decided I wanted to make fajitas, because they seem like such a warm-weather meal to me, and it seems like summer has finally (maybe, hopefully) arrived here. I searched Pinterest for ‘fajita’ because I wasn’t quite sure what spices to use – I thought I’d just find the right spicing combination, then stir-fry everything. Instead, I found the Easy Oven Fajitas recipe from Budget Bytes, and immediately thought that was a better idea.
IMG_2845

I like cooking (for more than just me alone), but standing over a frying pan can get tedious, especially when the house is already warm, so I immediately decided to give this ‘throw everything in a casserole dish’ idea a go.

I have to admit, I really don’t like raw meat. I’m terrified of not cooking meat enough, terrified of it touching anything. So mixing the raw chicken in with the peppers and onions was a little skeevy for me, but I figured that the person who wrote the recipe hadn’t died, and neither had any of the commenters, so I’d give it a go. (I also hate the idea of chicken in the crock pot, but I’ve done that and not died. I realize most of these fears are silly.)

I made the recipe pretty much as is, but with 2 chicken breasts (one was pretty small, the other was average). I also mixed the spices up as directed, then mixed the oil into the spice combination before pouring it all over the casserole dish and tossing, so I was just trying to spread out one mixture, rather than two.

We LOVED this meal. This is absolutely going into the regular dinner rotation around here. I loved that it didn’t heat up the house (or me) as much as cooking it all in a frying pan would’ve. It was also nice to have those 40 minutes to myself, rather than stirring the whole time.

We added sour cream, cheese, avocado, and a wee bit of cilantro to our fajitas, and it was perfect. Next time though, I’d love to find corn tortillas, to try that out. Our Safeway only had flour ones.

Trollbead Tuesday – Kimono Set

Once I re-discovered my 3 original Trollbeads, I wanted a collection. Now. But of course, there’s finances to think of, university tuition for the husband… so I turned to eBay. I had seen the odd very interesting matte Trollbead in all my blog searching (where do you go with a new obsession? I always go straight to the internet and find blogs of people even more dedicated than me!) and I soon realized that they were part of a glass set, and were actually discontinued. ‘Discontinued’ is a magic word that makes me want things more, so that’s what I searched eBay for.

kimono3

The neat thing about this set is that it was released before the big earthquake, but after that happened, Trollbeads donated some of the proceeds from this set to earthquake relief. Obviously, as I bought on eBay, my money went to the seller.

kimono2

I love the delicate colours, the varied patterns, and the unique matte finish. The only thing is that now I’ve amassed a few more glass beads (all shiny, as all but these 6 are) is that it is a bit of a challenge to put them together and have it all look nice. But when you do hit that sweet spot, it is great! You can see 3 of them on the bracelet photo in my first Trollbead Tuesday post.

I’m glad I bought these all together, I like the idea of having a ‘set’, even if I don’t always wear them together, but I am looking forward to getting some more shiny glass beads. I think my favourite two of the set are the two blue ones. I’m not sure that I’ve used the red and white one yet – although I think it is beautiful, I doesn’t go with anything else!

Butter is Better

While I write (sometimes) about baking, canning, and other kitchen-y things here, it isn’t the focus of the blog. And it definitely isn’t my intention to push my way of eating on you either, but a wee bit of explanation might make this kitchen-decorating-post make a bit more sense.

Butter Wouldn’t Melt by Andreakett

In short, I believe that food I buy at the store should have as few ingredients as possible. (I reserve the right to combine as many ingredients as I want into a meal). Take a look at the list of ingredients on the package of regular sour cream. Now look at the list on the 0% fat sour cream. Has the doubled in size? Apart from not knowing what half those ingredients are… the fatty stuff tastes better. It is rich enough that I only want a little bit, so the fact that it has more fat doesn’t bother me. Now you may understand why I love butter, and refuse to buy margarine for baking (and everything else, but husband likes marg because it is easier to spread on bread).

Butter is Better by KendyllHillegas

I had pinned a couple of these posters, thinking that one would be a great bit of art for a kitchen. But then I searched the Art section of Etsy for ‘butter’ and found so many that now I’m picturing a kitchen with a gallery wall of butter-related prints. Crazy, because what kitchen would give up cupboard space for a gallery wall? I almost would, for a perfectly-arranged grouping of these prints. Unless y’all think it’s a little too Paula Deen?

from KitchenBathPrints

(click any of the photos to be taken to the Etsy page)

Ideally, because I’m a collector at heart, this is the type of thing you’d collect slowly on your travels through life, rejoicing each time you found something butter-related to add to the wall. I’m not a fan of buying a collection ready-made. That said, this is a bit of a niche market, and I love Etsy, so I’m being a bit more relaxed about it.

By LittleLow

By David Olenick via Society6

Butter is also a  good subject for a kitchen owned by a couple… so many bread and butter prints out there!

By UUPP

By Bishopart

 

By TheDreamyGiraffe

By Buckandlibby

By Tartella (this one is letterpress!)

There is always an appropriate ‘Keep Calm’ print for any occasion:

By KeepCalmShop

There’s inspirational butter:

By Freshline

And I think that finally, this gallery wall needs some art-ier, wordless butter prints.

By CruzArt

By WhimsicalPaintworks

By OneKeeneKat

By Hrachouhi

Trollbead Tuesday – Runes

Another reason I was in the mood to resurrect my Trollbead bracelet was Vintage Rose/Vanessa on Instagram (vntg_rose). Just as I was thinking about mine again, she was posting pictures of how she’d been wearing hers. She had one (ok, a lot, but this one first) bead that I was really coveting. She called it her ‘hobbity’ bead!

image

Again, I went straight to Suzie Q’s, and they had a couple of them! This bead is amber, with runes carved into it, and I suppose there must be some sort of oxidating agent or paint or something to make the runes dark like that. It is called Trollbeads Runes, and it spells Denmark, which is where Trollbeads started.

I love the warm colour of the amber, and the ‘hobbity’ runes. It always feels warmer than the glass beads on the bracelet, and that coupled with the runes gives it a bit of an otherwordly feel. This one gets a place on my wrist most of the time, and I almost wish I’d bought two, so I could have one on each side of a focal point. I find I’m saying that about a lot of my favourite beads, but so far I have made the decision to buy singles, as I’ve only so much money to spend on stuff like this, and new and different always seems to win.

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