Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doing the T-Shirt Mash

My sister a-ster started something on her blog a while ago called the Monthly Mashup.  You're encouraged to mix two or more patterns together to create a new piece of clothing and then share.  So far, she's pretty much featured clothes that she makes for Beanster, so in my mind, I was thinking it had to be kids clothes.  DUH.

It's the internet.  No rules are enforced, right?  I could mash potatoes and share it and what could she do?

But, until recently, I hadn't made any clothing, so I wasn't really into the whole mashup thing.

And then I discovered kitschycoo, knits and both the comino cap top and the lady skater dress.  And all hell broke loose in my sometimes creative brain.

While I like the comino cap top, I wasn't thrilled with the cap sleeves or the neckline.  I LOVED the neckline and the sleeves of the Lady Skater dress, but the option for the top by itself wasn't there.  I had already thought I could just merge the two and my sister confirmed it when she was like "just match them at the waist..." and I knew it would be a breeze because they are very similar from the middle of the top on down.

And voila, my new master plan.  I had decided on the length for the comino cap, so the only thing I had to do here was merge the lady skater top to the top of it.

 I love the red.  It's kind of a faded red, but the best choice at the fabric store. 
 The sleeves are just the right length for me and I love both the sleeve edge and the neckline edge.  They go in beautifully.

And when you topstitch, I just think it looks fantastic.  The bands match the openings so well, there's not much of a worry about accidentally gathering the sleeves or the front/back.

Ok, forget about the shirt, what is the niceness that my hair was doing here?  I feel like it usually looks ratty when I whip it back like this (my signature 'do) but the light must have been just right...

 K-ster is going to have to change the angle from which he takes pictures because my upper back looks enormous at this angle.
Just the right amount of looseness without being droopy.  I'm not a snug knit wearer, so this mashup really combined the best of all worlds!

I was really struggling with hemming my knit creations until I was finally able to get my hands on a twin stretch needle.
While Joann fabrics carries this brand, for some reason, my local store does not have this model and the women had never heard of a stretch twin needle.  I knew they existed and my sister told me that in her store, they are in a weird location, so I told my local people where it is in her store, but they said they didn't have them at all.  So, I resorted to finding them somewhere online.

I truly believe this has solved my hemming issues.  Here's a view of the top and the interior of the shirt, so you can see what I mean.

My interior view seems to be the opposite of what I see when I look online and see what a twin needle does, but it's doing the job and that's all I care about.  I suspect it has "tunneled" a little and someone will probably have a solution to suggest.

Also, I only used my serger for joining this entire shirt.  I figured out that if you read the manual that came with the machine, it actually tells you how to fix some of your problems!  All I needed to do was change the differential feed number and the waviness disappeared.  I love how the inside looks so neat and tidy!

Sadly, I have no picture of me conveying a weird message in this shirt, but I will in my next post, when I feature a long sleeve Lady Skater dress.

Linking here:
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2014/08/think-pink-sunday-180/
http://sewmanyways.blogspot.com
http://www.sewcando.com
http://lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com/2014/08/no-rules-weekend-blog-party-with-linky_27.html

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/08/clever-chicks-blog-hop-102-with-henbag.html

Friday, August 29, 2014

Now Let's See Who's Wearing the Pants

As my adventures in sewing with knit fabrics continues, I ventured into the land of pajama pants this week.

K-ster has had a pair of lounge pants for well over a decade and they are missing some serious fabric in places.  I know they are over 10 years old because they came from a store that no longer exists.  They have lasted and lasted and except for a big hole and a fraying waistband, they are surprisingly not bad.

He wears a few pair of nylon running pants but I seriously hate them for a whole slew of reasons.

And then there are the fabulous Corona pants that came in a can.  Someone gave them for Christmas eons ago and they hold up nicely but he needs something else.

When he saw my knits for me, he asked me to make him some pants.

Sadly, his requirement of "Bruins colors or Bruins logo" wasn't met, but I did whip up these bad boys in his favorite color.

The problem with sewing for tall k-ster vs. short me is the amount of fabric required.  I didn't quite need the amount I thought I did during this fiasco, but I still needed 3 yards to make them happen.  Even when the fabric is on sale, it's not proving to make sense financially to make rather than buy these pants.

I did discover a few changes that need to be made.  He isn't 14 feet tall, so I could reduce the amount by almost 12 inches and the width at the bottom of was equal to the top.  This is not so good, as we discovered the hard way one morning.

He was standing and the next thing I knew, he was stumbling-lurching-falling toward me because he had started to walk but got caught in the "bell bottoms" as he called them and stumbled.

So, I tapered them like the fabulous pants I started out talking about, and it's much better.  If I make them again, I know where I need to cut back.  But still, it will be well over 2 yards that I need and unless the material falls off the back of a truck somewhere, I'm not sure I will bother.

I have two favorite parts of these pants.

The first is the waistband which makes it feel like they will last forever.  A wider elastic would make more sense here, for sure.

The second is that my serger was exceptional the day I made these.  I have never seen it breeze through something so nicely.  When I first started, there was a serious problem and I almost just went to the regular machine because I don't know enough about my serger to know how to troubleshoot.  I did determine that the issue seemed to be at the needle and not in the ever hidden internal parts, so I rethreaded that one needle and it totally worked.  It made me want to make a million knits right now because it's worked so beautifully.

No waves, no weird stitch issues.

I seem to have exhausted the supply of knits at my local Joann fabrics.  I'm not looking for solid colors but the prints are all way too over the top for me right now.    I'm not the biggest fan of prints.   I have no idea what I'd be looking for online, so I think the knit bus stops here for me right now.  Sad, because I'm just getting into the groove and my serger is upstairs whispering for more.

K-ster won't model for us, so I'll leave you wondering what message we were all trying to convey in 1991:

Linking here:
http://www.myturnforus.com/2014/08/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_28.html
http://www.glitterglueandpaint.com/project-pin-41/
http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2014/08/wednesdays-adorned-from-above-link_26.html

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sewing A Knit Dress Part Deux

You might have read that I've just entered the land of knit fabric and my passport hadn't expired, so I took another trip with a knit and I like this one the best.

Thanks to kitschycoo, I made both the Comino Cap shirt and dress.  The dress came out better than the shirt, but I decided the fit was not quite what I was looking for.

As I poked around her site, I found the Lady Skater dress.  It has several sleeve length options and I thought I'd give it a whirl.  This time, I wanted to try using my serger instead of just my sewing machine.

I found this fabric at Joann fabrics and because it was on clearance, I decided to use it even though it was a very stretchy, thin knit.  The colors are my favorite together and the softness of the fabric made me wish I could make lots of things with it.  Just my luck, there was just enough left, so I grabbed quickly and got to work.

I don't know what happened in the pictures, but the print looks nothing in those pictures like it does in real life.  The one right above is exactly the right colors.  In real life, I like this print a lot.

I first used a 1 inch hem, but I might have cut the skirt too short to begin with, so I ended up undoing it and just doing a lettuce edge with my serger.  I think it worked well for the fabric.

There's that hanger I removed last time and foolishly put right back up, so as k-ster was taking pictures, I was compelled to move it again.

I love the sleeves on this dress.  It's called a cap sleeve but I would just call this a short sleeve.  Cap sleeves are what I call this kind.

Plié, relevé and stay....

When I first made the dress, I hadn't shortened the waist high enough, so it hit right at my hipbones and I really didn't like it.  It also did something weird because I serged that part.  So, I cut off the skirt and brought the waist up about 2 inches and just used  my regular machine.  I like this waist much better.

Now, if I could combine the bottom of the Comino Cap top with the top of the Lady Skater dress, I think I would have knit shirt nirvana in my sewing room.  I tried this today with what I thought was PLENTY of fabric and it so was not enough fabric, so I had to give up before I even cut it out.  Very sad.

The fabric totally cooperated and came together really well.  My serger buzzed right through it, but I think I need to adjust some things.  I can't say the seams are not puckering a little.  It's all very stretchy, but they don't lay completely flat, like I wish they would.

As with  my other knit adventures, I will leave you contemplating the message I was trying to convey in this photo.

Linking up here:
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/08/clever-chicks-blog-hop-101-featuring.html
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2014/08/think-pink-sunday-179/
http://sewmanyways.blogspot.com
http://lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com/2014/08/no-rules-weekend-blog-party-with-linky.html
http://www.skiptomylou.org
http://www.sewcando.com
http://www.myturnforus.com/2014/08/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_28.html
http://www.glitterglueandpaint.com/project-pin-41/
http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2014/08/wednesdays-adorned-from-above-link_26.html  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blackberry Jelly Whether I Like It Or Not

We have lots of wild things that grow around here. 

I say wild, but most likely, someone planted them within the last 100 years and they've been left to their own devices.  Sometimes, we have more Concord grapes than a Welch's factory.  Other years, it's the blueberries that stain my picking hands.

And this year, it was the blackberries.  I want to like them, but their little seeds always hang around in my teeth and they are so bitter that they ruin any pleasure the berries might have supplied.

I know this from way too many summers of getting excited about them and eating them and instantly regretting that decision as I chomp seeds.

But this year, the amount of blackberries just standing at reachable levels was obscene.  I ignored them for a while and then I decided I had to figure out something to do with them. 

Because when life gives you blackberries, you really can't ignore them.

Within 20 minutes, I had 6 cups of berries. I didn't even have to try.  They jumped right into the colander.

I found a recipe for making blackberry jelly and I decided today was the today to try making jelly.  I was mystified that I could just boil them and not use a pressure cooker.  I'm not a canning expert, but I've always used the pressure cooker.

I decided that I would try using the huge pot that I bought for the lobster/steamers dinner that we had when my sister was here.  Yet another use for it and for the huge outdoor burner we bought for it.

Since the pot is so big, I can't fill it in the house, so I did the next best thing.


I truly don't know how we would exist without the outdoor shower.

To make the jelly, first you must boil the berries to extract the juice.  All 6 cups of berries boiled down to 3 cups. 


And then you pour it through cheesecloth to get just the juice.  You're left with this pile of pulp.  I really couldn't decide what to do with it, but since it's full of those seeds I love so much, I decided to just throw it in the compost.

After boiling the juice and sugar to make it thick enough, I canned them and got a whopping 4 half pint jars.

I had cut the recipe in half because I didn't have enough berries after the first picking but I wanted to try out the whole making jelly thing before I went any further.  It worked exactly as it should have.

One of the bonuses of the big pot is the insert that came with it.  You can see it in the picture above.  I put the jars in it in the kitchen and took it out to the patio and lowered it into the water.  It has great handles for lifting and the best part is the little feet.  When I'm done, I get some heavy duty tongs to pull it out and then I can set it right on the patio, on its little feet, to cool.

The hardest part for me is getting the water to boil just as I'm ready for it to.  I spent a lot of time waiting for the juice to boil down and for the water for the canning to boil.

Since we still had a ridiculous amount of berries on the vines, I enlisted the help of k-ster, who was really the instigator of this whole thing because he said I should make jelly out of them.

This venture was slightly more difficult because the berries were a little more out of reach.  I thought with him being taller he could reach in better, and he could, but there were still so many out of reach.  The thorns are deadly and if you were to slip and fall into the bushes while picking, you'd be in a lot of serious trouble.

He finagled a few ways to get at the vines and when we finished, we had another 8 cups of berries. 

I went through the same process and all together, I made a dozen of the little half pint jars.

I didn't think I'd like the jelly much, so I tried it on a bagel.

I guess it wasn't so bad because I had to lick the plate clean!

And a few days later, we had another round of ripe berries.  I didn't want to buy more little jars, so I just picked some and made a cobbler.  It's good, but those seeds......

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sewing A Knit Dress

In yesterday's post, I showed you my first attempt a making a shirt from a knit fabric.  It's OK, but I'm not as in love with it as I thought I would be.

I decided it was probably the material I chose, and I also thought that if I made the dress from the same pattern, the skirt of the dress might help to pull the top down a bit and fit more like I wanted.

The pattern is for the Comino Cap from kitschycoo and it comes with 4 options.  There's a plain top and dress or there's a top and dress to make with a sweetheart inset at the top.

For both the top and the dress I stuck with the plain jane top.  No need to emphasize my FULL BUST and surely a sweetheart pattern would do just that.

I loved the color of this material the second I laid eyes on it and the bonus was that it was a heftier knit with a great stretch.  I figured if I couldn't make this fabric work, then knits are not for me.

For the dress, I stuck with the size up that I ended up using for the first shirt that I made.  What I didn't realize is that though I have that full bust, I have a narrow waist, so the dress sort of hung in a funny way.

My sister's brilliant suggestion to baste my alterations before I committed to the knit stitch was right on.  I took in the sides where the curves needed to be more defined, but then I found that the skirt was too poofy and I might have created the dreaded jodhpur hips that she mentioned.

So, I cut down the skirt a little too.


My favorite part is how the neckbands and armbands went on. I didn't use a contrasting rib fabric like I did on the shirt.  I was worried that using the same fabric as the dress might not work because maybe it didn't have enough give, but it worked really well.  The topstitching on that makes me so happy because it feels like it was professionally made.

You'd think I might have a picture of that but I didn't and my ipad is currently being used....

So here's another view to keep you thinking.

 Always thinking...
I worked really hard to remove that thing so it wouldn't be in the pictures...  and then it's there anyway.

I also topstitched the waist because I loved how it look.  However, when I put it on , the topstitching popped out because there isn't a whole lot of stretch in the waist.  Sad.   It's a small detail, but I feel like it makes the dress look finished.  I might try to finagle something and do it again.  I have a dress that I bought with a topstitched waist and it's a knit, so I'm sure there's a magical way to do it.

So, while the dress did come out just fine, and it's comfortable and I will probably wear it until it falls apart,
I think my next attempt with knits will be a different pattern.

Kitschycoo has the Lady Skater style that I like a lot because the neckline is lower and it has a real sleeves.

Or, I might mash up a different top with the Comino Cap skirt and really shake things  up.  Then I can participate in callajaire's monthly mashup!

In the meantime, I'll leave you pondering the message I was trying to convey in this picture.

Linking here:
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2014/08/think-pink-sunday-178/

http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com/2014/08/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_14.html

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/08/clever-chicks-blog-hop-100-with.html

http://www.skiptomylou.org

http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2014/08/wednesdays-adorned-from-above-link_19.html http://www.sewcando.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014

BUSTed

It's been a decade since I actually sat at my sewing machine and sewed a piece of clothing for myself.  I used to make a lot of jumpers for myself and I've made a couple of fancy dresses too.  I made my prom dress, for which I was famous for years. 

One thing I NEVER did was touch knits.  I've been afraid to sew with a knit for 3 reasons:

1)  the stretch of the fabric
2)  the need for a stretch  needle
3)  the worst one- trying to find the right stitch!

My sister sews with knits like it's her job.  She is always whipping up tops, bottoms, dresses and even underwear for Beanster and knits are an absolute staple in her stash.

When she made a top for herself called the Comino Top from kitschycoo, I  thought I might like to give it a whirl.  Between the kitschycoo website (fantastic tutorials, trouble shooting and suggestions) and my sister, I felt like a monkey could probably sew this top, so I needed to put on my big girl knits and just try it.

I bought the pattern online and moved into the modern age.  Did you know that with the wonder that is the internet, we can just buy patterns online and print them our very ownselves?  K-ster asked how I would print it on tissue paper like the old days.  Ha ha ha.

Assembling the pattern was a fun trick.  First, I had to figure out which pages I needed to print since I was just making the top.  There are two versions of the top and then a skirt you can put it on either of them to also make a dress.  I figured I'd stick with the simple top first.

Funny thing:  the page numbers in the PDF are not the numbers you see here but because I am D-U-M-B, I started printing all the wrong pages.   DUh.

Magically, I measured myself in the 3 places she advises and they all fit under one size, so that's the size I cut out.  That's never happened with a pattern before.  Usually, they fit in 3 different sizes, so I throw a dart and pick one at random.

I have no pictures of how that turned out because I had a major disaster which I will explain later, but also, I would not have worn the top  because it was a little more snug than I like.  So, back to the printer, and I cut out the next size up.  It's kind of cool that when you want a different size, you can just reprint and cut again.  Oh the trial and tribulations we used to go through!

There are literally 4 seams, the neck and arm bands and a hem.  Why I thought so long and hard about this is a mystery.

Well, if you know anything about me, it's no mystery.  I perseverate on most things that involve cutting.

It's mostly because I wasn't certain I had found the right stitch on my machine and when I thought I had, I didn't think I had the tension right.  Nothing is more irritating than a stretchy knit that can't stretch because the seam is too tight.  I know this because I've tried altering things like t-shirts over the years and they never work because I don't use the right stitch.

First, let me show the part I'm most proud of.

See how those lines came together at the shoulder?  That literally makes me do a happy dance every time I look at it.

The peeling paint on the door?  No happy dance over that.

I was no surprise that when I went to Joann fabrics, their knits choices didn't thrill me.  I thought I should get something other than a solid but I didn't like most of their prints.  I loved this stripe, but it was very, very thin and probably added to my angst.  They had other knits that were more substantial, and I'd recommend a more substantial knit for your first time.

So, here's where the first one went wrong:

The neck band went on so smoothly, I patted myself on the back for days.

But the arm bands.....

When I cut this out the first time, I did not attach the piece that says FOLD, so when I cut the arm bands they were literally like the elastic bands on lobster claws.  Not sure what that means because you weren't raised in New England?  They were #(*%^ing small!!  I pulled, stretched, swore, but there was no way they were going on. 

And when you sew with the knit stitch on my  machine, it's a triple stitch and it's unreasonable to rip it out.  I know this because the first time I put in the neckband, I did something wrong and had to rip it out and start over.

I was about to give up on this project entirely at that point because it was causing me too much frustration for something that was meant to be simple, fast and tailor made for me.

But, I bought another piece of fabric, went up a size, attached the papers together properly and came up with this:



I know this might be hard for you to believe, but I still think it's snug.  I don't wear shirts falling off, but I like them a little looser than this.

Who wants to suck it in all day long?

Want to see the back?

There's some kind of optical illusion going on with the stripes but you can see how it came out.  Again, I don't usually wear tops that are this snug across my back and shoulders, even with the stretch.

But, the bottom line is that it all worked as I had hoped it would, sewing wise.  The directions made it a breeze  and it came together exactly as it should have.  The bands, once I cut them properly, worked just as they were meant to and made it look so well made.  The recommended top stitching gave it a nice, professional look.

I will warn you that it is truly a "cap" sleeve, which I am trying to get used to.  I have never owned a top that has them, so it's weird for the sleeve edge to touch my shoulder where it does.

I made a dress too, and I'll share that another day.

I thought I'd love this pattern and make one in every color, but it's not a style I'm madly in love with.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the pattern.  As I said, she explains it all so well, with plenty of pictures both on the website and in the pattern that I bought.

But here's what I dislike the most.  And how the post got its title.

It's too snug in the bust for my taste.  I just don't usually wear things that snug for everyday wear.  When I told my sister, she attributed it to my "full bust" which made me wet my pants.  I'd never say that about myself because I think I'm modestly endowed, but apparently, for my size, it's full.

Therefore, that first one I made, with the measurements I took, was spot on. It is meant to allow the boobolas to be showcased.  Even a size bigger showcases them more than what you usually see from me.

Stay tuned for the Comino Cap dress, which I'll post as soon as I have a photographer handy.

In the meantime, I'll let you wonder what I was doing here:

Linking here:
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2014/08/think-pink-sunday-178/
http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com/2014/08/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_14.html
http://www.glitterglueandpaint.com/project-pin-40/
http://lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com/
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/08/clever-chicks-blog-hop-100-with.html
http://www.skiptomylou.org 
http://www.sewcando.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

Time For Ponyhats!

If you're like me, you hate to wear winter hats for several reasons:  they are itchy, they smoosh your hair and the worst part:  you look like a boy!  I need any flowing, puffy hair I can get because when all of it is smooshed to my head, I look like a 15 year old boy and it's just not pretty.

Voilà the ponyhat!

What's this?  A hat that allows the ponytail to flow in the wind?
A hat that feminizes that knitted hat so I won't look like a boy??  Or a little less like a boy?

Marvelous.

I discovered ponyhats a few years ago and love how they come together and how simple but smart they are.  It seems like everyone I see who is healthy and active has long, flowing hair, and I know it's no fun to trap it all in a winter hat, especially if you're going to be active and get sweaty.

Letting the ponytail out makes it cuter, more fun and takes some of the heat and bulk out of a full head of hair trapped under a hat.

When I first started making them, they were pretty plain.

Recently, I've added the fun loops at the top to make it funky and cute.

And when I found a pink and green combo I loved, I decided to put them together.

You can wear the hat with a ponytail already in an elastic, to give it more pep, or you can just pull your hair through the stretchy hole at the top as I did here.

Most of my ponyhats are made of acrylic yarn which isn't really what I prefer, but it's what I can find most easily and in the widest variety of colors.  They wash and dry well and they aren't too itchy.

Recently, I found a 70% acrylic/30% alpaca combo in cherry red.

It's really more red than orange but it's impossible to get the color right in a picture.  This yarn is the softest thing I can imagine and doesn't seem to be itchy.  It's not machine washable and I think if you dried it in the dryer it would shrink but I love it anyway.

The fun loops were an addition this month and I'm thinking of adding some rosettes or something else for more fun.

If you love the hat but worry that you don't have a ponytail, the hole at the top is made on an elastic and it's about 1 inch wide.  You could absolutely wear it without pulling the ponytail through and if it's one that has loops, I don't think the hole would even be noticeable.

If you believe that the head is really the hottest part of the body, then you know the the hole at the top will allow some heat to escape but you'll still stay warm.

These are great for men too, even if they don't have ponytails!

All of these and more are for sale on my etsy.  I charge a little more for the fun loops at the top and if you want a custom color, contact me and I'll see what I can find.  Shipping is always free.

Linking here:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/08/clever-chicks-blog-hop-99-featuring.html

http://www.sewcando.com/2014/08/craftastic-monday-link-party-time.html

http://www.flamingotoes.com/2014/08/think-pink-sunday-177 

http://www.skiptomylou.org/2014/08/11/made-by-you-monday-216/

http://www.adornedfromabove.com/2014/08/wednesdays-adorned-from-above-link_12.html