Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm Not So Good at Letting Go: 2 Mini Reveals

Sometimes I just can't let go and I find myself going back to "edit" garments that I had once considered finished. Do you do this too?

I don't mean that I re-do something immediately after the first try on, but that weeks later I go back and improve (hopefully) a garment. Last weekend, it was my kimono. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but I decided that it would fit better if it was narrower thru the base of the neck.

So, I undid the seam and crack stitching at the back of the neck, made a pleat and reassembled. I'm much happier with the fit through the shoulders and neck now.

Added pleat

In addition, I couldn't quite let go of the kimono fabrics. The sleep bra fail still nagged at me. However, I know when a fail is a fail; I was unwilling to try to fix the bra. So, with very little fabric left post-bra, I decided on a sleep mask as a luxurious little companion piece for the kimono.

Sleep Mask from In Stitches by Amy Butler

It's not my best make, but I love it! The silk back side feels sooooo soft and lovely on my skin. I plan on taking this little bit of luxury with me on any future red eye flights.

Luxurious companions

So, am I the only one who continues to tinker with a project long after  is "finished" or has a hard time "letting go" of a fabric? Or do you do this sort of thing too?

Next up, I have 2 projects with shiny metallic fabrics! Yay!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finished Giraffe!

I finally put the finishing touches on my giraffe!

Look at that sweet face!

Isn't (s)he the sweetest thing?  It's going to be very hard to give this cutie away to Phin and my new niece (due in about 4 weeks!), or resist the urge to give it a gender, name or personality. But I suppose that I should leave all that for it's eventual owner.

I love the pompoms

It really didn't take all that long to knit and wasn't difficult. There were a few parts where I got hung up a bit, like making pompoms. Yeah. I don't know why I found pompoms difficult at first, either.

Here's my humble attempt at a time-lapse sort of photo essay on the construction of this giraffe.

Just a reminder that this pattern is from Susan B Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys book and Craftsy video, both of which I give an "A". This is an adorable baby gift. I knit it with daffodil and flamingo colored Cascade 220 Superwash yarn, which should make it easy to clean. It's stuffed with non-toxic fiberfill and a beanbag of non-toxic poly pellets in the bum to give it some weight and help it sit up.  I sewed the beanbag out of muslin so that none of the pellets can escape and be a choking hazard. The giraffe is quite large - about 14 inches tall sitting down.

Giraffe Love

It was nice to take a break from a demanding lace knitting pattern and just knit in circles, without having to worrying about fitting. The most challenging part was stitching on the face. I didn't get everything perfectly symmetrical, but I like the end result. I think the giraffe looks a bit jaunty with the horns going in slightly different directions.

There will definitely be more knit stuffies in my future!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Passing the Cake: Giveaway Winner

So, the winner of the Let Them Eat Cake giveaway - a cleanse at the start of my frosting diet - is:

Jodie K

These lovelies are coming your way, Jodie. Shoot me an email at clio[dot]phineas[at]gmail[dot]com to claim your cake!

Happy sewing, everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Red Vintage Slip Reveal (Phew! Finally!)

This slip took so much more time than it warranted!  So, without further ado:

He he he.

Moments after finishing my slip, I started thinking about blogging the finished project. And I got a little, um, nervous. Posting anything on the internet is like squeezing a tube of toothpaste: once you squeeze, there is just no getting that toothpaste back in the tube. It's out there for good. Like pictures of me. In a slip. Shudder. That said, it's a pretty modest slip. But I may live to regret this. 

Oh, I should apologize for the uneven quality of the photos. I had to shoot indoors for obvious reasons.

I was trying to channel 1943, the year the pattern was made, as if I was getting dressed for my day. Rituals of all kinds, including beauty rituals, can be calming.

  Like doing hair and makeup. 

Deciding what to wear.

  Saying "honey do I look ok?"

 Wow, in 1943 women were much higher maintenance than I am! OK, here are some detail shots.

I love how this came out!

 After some waffling, I decided to add a second layer of lace trim to strategically hide the hole.  I simply sewed it with a narrow zigzag stitch at the top and bottom of the lace, and then trimmed away the silk from behind it.

I'm really happy with the back too.

For the straps, I decided to diverge from the pattern's simple, wide and straight straps. I was inspired by this slip that I had pinned. Three spaghetti straps are braided to about the shoulder and then splay out and crisscross across the back. You can see the braided front straps a bit here:

I finished all the seams by pressing them to one side and topstitching with silk thread. I think it worked out well. There is a facing around the neckline/back. I also topstitched the neckline/back to finish it. 

This is my first (only) vintage pattern, and I can see why some sewists really love them. The fit out of the envelope was much better than most of the modern patterns I've used. I think that modern patterns generally have a larger full bust measurement for the same size waist, but not a larger cup size. I usually have to take in a huge amount across the back and at the sides, but then do a little FBA in the front. On this pattern I only needed to take in the sides and back a smidge, and was able to accomplish the FBA by just letting out/shaping the princess seams over the bust with the seam allowance. So, three cheers for vintage!

Anyway, my slip is now tucked away with all my other pretties.

Frosting Diet: In frosting terms, I'd say this is like the cream cheese frosting that you'd spread on a red velvet cupcake. A silk slip is definitely frosting in my book! Silk feels so luxurious on and the layered lace hem and crisscross straps really add to the glamor of this slip. Plus, it's red instead of beige or black. As I was sewing, I kept thinking of the red petticoat that Rhett Butler gives Mammy in Gone With the Wind. I'll definitely feel special wearing this, like it's my supersuit under my clothes.

I'm glad this is done and thrilled to be wearing it. Unlike me, I hope you are all enjoying MLK Day at home! Next up is the Cake Giveaway winner.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Solutions for the Slip Snip

Or is that Snip Slip? You decide.

Thank you all for the comments on my last post! Not that I want anyone to have a sewing disaster, but it is somewhat encouraging to know that we've all been there. So, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the good ideas you all mentioned for fixing my little errant snip.

Luckily for me, the hole is 1 - tiny; 2- very near the hem; and 3 - right at one of the front princess seams. So, there are a number of ways I can strategically fix it.

Here's what I've got in the stash:

Red Lace Trim

Re-hemming shorter or adding a wider trim
Either is a pretty easy fix. I have enough of all but the top lace shown above to simply re-hem the slip above the snip.  Some of these trims are wider than the one I initially used (2nd from top), so I would be able to preserve the length of the slip.

Phin actually came up with the suggestion that I add a second row of the same lace on top of the snip so that the hem would have two tiers, sort of like this:

Vintage slip

I could use tulle, mesh or just some of the slip itself between the two rows of lace.

Adding a slit
Since the snip is right at one of the front princess seams, I could easily add a slit by opening the seam several inches and using the same lace trim that I hemmed with to edge the slit. Like this:

La Perla silk and lace slip

Adding an applique
There are two ways I could use an applique to cover the hole. The first is that I could just sew or iron on a simple applique to create a cute little motif and act as a patch for hole. I could use the flower trim in my stash (top in the above photo) or store bought hearts:

Wrights appliques

I would want to avoid anything that was embellished with beads or sequins - they would be liable to catch on the inside of whatever dress I wore over the slip. 

The other applique option is to buy some lace and cut out some of the motifs to create custom appliques, as detailed in this fantastic article in Threads. The idea is that the fabric underneath the applique would then be cut away, like this:

Threads - Create Couture Lingerie

Similarly, one suggestion was to do add a triangular lace insert over that spot. I had a hard time finding a picture illustrating this, but think it would be a bit like the lace treatment at the waist of these knickers, but in just one place - the offending place - at the hem.

Between the Sheets Lingerie

It would sort of give the impression of a slit, without there actually being one.

Contrast fabric/Color blocking
Inspired by the triangle idea, it occurred to me that a triangle of contrasting fabric could be color blocked into the skirt portion. I would probably use hot pink silk and then change the strap color also. I can't seem to find any picture illustrating this. 

Patching or Darning
I think in this case that patching or darning, unless camouflaged somehow, is just not feasible. On a busy pattern, this could be near-invisible. However on shiny stretch silk, this would be a disaster.

OK, so that is the menu of choices at this point. I kinda wish I could try them all. Stay tuned for what I decide and thanks, again, for all the sympathy and suggestions! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One. Errant. Snip.

The Craft Lounge is still being used as a guest bedroom on the weekends (4 weeks and counting, folks). 

Since I mostly sew on the weekends, it's really taking a big bite out of my sewing time. But last night I was determined to finish my vintage slip (aka: red silk vintage frosting). It turned into one of those reminders of why I don't sew at night. Or on Mondays.

One errant snip. (And a slip teaser)

Naturally, this ill fated snip happened mere seconds after congratulating myself on finishing the slip. I don't know where things went wrong; I was innocently snipping a stray thread from the seam allowance.

So, it looks like my knee-length slip will now be a slightly above-the-knee-length slip. D'Oh!!!

Am I the only genius who does things like this? 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SOS: Save the Thimble!

Ladies and gentlemen, the humble sewing thimble is under attack!

OK, OK, not really. I'm referring to the thimble Monopoly token. Hasbro has decided that it's time to modernize Monopoly by giving one of the old tokens the axe and adding a new one. (See here.) It's like when Crayola decided to "pink slip" Raw Umber from the 64 crayon box. Or when M&M  replaced the light brown M&M with blue. Am I being sentimental? I'm usually such a modernist.

Let's save the thimble - it's a symbol of the craft that we all love. Some (non-sewists) might think it is quaint and old fashioned, but those of us who do any hand sewing know better. Facebook and Twitter users can vote for the token that they want to "get out of jail free". The token with the fewest votes will get the ol' heave ho!You can also vote on the new token.

Vote here or at #tokenvote if you tweet.

More Blogger woes: My comment problem seems to be ongoing. So, if you signed up for the Let Them Eat Cake! giveaway but don't see your comment posted, feel free to send me an email - clio[dot] phineas [at] gmail [dot] com - to confirm that you are "in".  (Sarah Mayo, House of Pinheiro, Poppykettle, Kirsty, Amity Originals and Jennifer Churchill - you are all "in" even if your comments can't be seen here for whatever reason). Oh and there is still loads of time to enter!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Frosting Diet: Let Them Eat Cake Giveaway!

I'm not a dieter when it comes to food or fabric or anything. I ask: Is a life without brownies worth living? I think not. But here I am, all giddy about the Frosting Diet.

So, in the spirit of modern diets, I thought I should do a "cleanse" to rid my Craft Lounge of cake, which is so damaging to my mojo. But since others thrive on cake, I say "let them eat cake!" We'll do this cleanse as a giveaway.


Is there anything more versatile than a knit wrap dress? It's very delicious cake indeed. In someone else's hands this might not even be cake. However, the chance that I will sew myself a knit wrap dress is slim-to-none.

So, this giveaway is for Butterick 5454 (size 8-10-12-14), a classic style wrap dress pattern, along with three yards of this ITY knit, which I bought two years ago from FabricMart to make myself such a dress. Additionally, I'm throwing in this book on fitting and figure flattery. I bought it in a flurry of new sewist library building, but I don't think I've even cracked the binding.

Please holler "pass the cake" in the comments by Jan 20 (midnight EST) if you are interested. I'm happy to mail globally. Oh, and make sure I have a way of getting in touch with you, please.

A few additional confectionery thoughts...
I'm so glad that you all seem as excited as I am about the Frosting Diet. Feel free to join in, even if just for a month or week or one project. Anyone who wants to sew fabulous rather than basic is welcome! If enough people are interested I may even have to contemplate a button or something like that. (Wow, I already regret saying that. I'm so non web or tech savvy.)

On another tech note, Blogger seems to be having some kind of bad hair week, possibly due to a lover's quarrel with Disqus. A few readers posted comments that I can only see in the mobile app or in the moderator tools. So, apologies if it seems like your comment was not received or acknowledged - it was! Wordpress is looking better all the time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Frosting Diet

I don't think my mojo problems were jet lag related, afterall.

I've been feeling angsty since posting my (yawn...) sewing goals last week. I've noticed that one of the big trends in the blogosphere for 2013 resewlutions is sewing more cake - practical garments and basics. I admire those who turn out beautifully fitted and sewn staple pieces that go with everything and take them effortlessly from season to season. I envy those who sew up lots of things quickly. Cake is great. But... you's just that... well...

I love to sew Frosting!

Debbie Reynolds in Singin in the Rain

And I guess I was feeling like I ought to sew cake. So, I am scrapping my 2013 sewing plans and going on a Frosting Diet!

My rationale is that, since I am just not one of those amazing people who have the time, talent and skill to sew most or everything they wear, I want the things I sew to be the real show stoppers in my wardrobe.

For many, the drawback to frosting is that it doesn't get worn. But I wear my frosting so much that it didn't make sense for me to participate in the Frosting Fortnight. Case in point, last summer I wore my flowered pants so much that my sister had to threaten an intervention if I didn't wear something else. And I've been positively living in my leather jacket. It's the cake that remains unloved and unworn in the back of the closet (eg: knit tops). 

So, here are the basic tenets of my Frosting Diet:
  • I will not sew basics. 
  • I will neither make sewing decisions based on what I need, nor will I worry about coordinating with the rest of my wardrobe. My mojo will be my guide.
  • I will not worry about when or where a garment will be worn or if it fits my lifestyle.
  • I will sew the things that excite me and that I fantasize about wearing. 
  • I will work with leather, lace, silk, cashmere, sequins, metallics, animal prints, hardware or whatever fabrics or trims truly excite me, including the "too good" fabrics in my stash that I've been saving for an occasion.  
  • I will sew garments with interesting and unique details that will set them apart.
  • I will go the extra mile in terms of technique and finishes. 
  • I will be bold when it comes to style and pushing my fashion envelope. 
  • Luxury will replace practical. 
  • Color is "in". So is black. And white. And texture. 

Ok, I realize that this list of do's ands don'ts is rather broad. My overarching point is: why should I sew basic when I can sew fabulous?

This diet already fits with what I like to sew and wear. It just kicks it up a notch. So, this is more of a clarification in my thinking and motivation rather than a radical reassessment. I am going to trust that my creativity will take me to a happy place.

Importantly, the aim is not to sew impractical or spend the year stunt-dressing or radically altering my style. I plan on wearing my frosting as if it is completely normal, much as I do now. I still want an LBD for example - what could be more basic than that? But I'm getting a strong urge to incorporate leather into my LBD. Carolyn is probably to blame.

Also, I'm not saying that each and every project will be necessarily challenging. But each will be well thought out and that extra special non-basic something will be added. I think my kimono is a great example of this - the pattern was easy enough, but I think the combination of luxurious fabric and a decorative stitch elevated it from bath time to boudoir.

Anyway, I'm feeling so much happier about my sewing plans since this revelation - my mojo is running barefoot through the grass. Probably naked. LOL. Yes, that excited.

Here's to 2013! Bring on the buttercream!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Mash Up: Cosy Socks Reveal, New Fabric and my Hatred of the Red Eye

Flying back from California on the red eye is a much better plan on paper than in actuality. Especially when there is turbulence. How I hate turbulence!

Arriving bleary eyed in Newark at 5:45am does not help with the 2013 sewing mojo. I spent most of yesterday gazing off into space alternately contemplating a nap and wrapping up my 2012 projects and accompanying blog posts. "None of the above" is what I actually accomplished. Not even the nap.

At least there were new cosy socks waiting for me at home.

Sock blockers: an xmas gift from Phin

So, these are "Heart to Heart" socks from Toe Up Socks for Every Body knit up in a soft, warm cashmere and silk blend yarn. I started them while I was stuck at home in the wake of Sandy and finished them a few days before Christmas.  The pattern is my most complicated yet, involving cables - a first for me - and a fairly intricate lace pattern. I also added in an inch of rib knit on the arch so that the socks would grip a little at the mid-foot. (Thanks for the excellent suggestion, LinB!!)  I plan to make this a standard feature of my socks.

I've never been much into hearts. Or pink. But I'm really loving these socks. One funny thing that I've learned through blogging is that I am very into my creature comforts. The importance of cosy socks cannot be underestimated.

Oh! And look what I picked up at the Swap Meet in San Diego (Dawn of Two On, Two Off blogged about the Swap Meet here last year). 

$2 total
On the left is a red-orange stripey jersey knit and on the right is a black and silver loose sweater knit. Both will become tops. Each piece is about 1 1/2 yards. Burn test to follow. What a fun time I had shopping at the Swap Meet with Elizabeth and T.Sedai. We all came away with some fun fabrics.

More 2012 wrap up to come!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Look Who I'm Hanging Out With!

I'm in San Diego for work and am hanging with T. Sedai of Sew Skate Read and Elizabeth of SEWN at the National City Swap Meet (think flea market with a fabric section) on my one free day. Thankfully, I'm traveling with a suitcase that expands.

I hope you are having a great Saturday too!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome 2013!

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your sewing machines. It's 2013 and I have lots of ideas for what's next.

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: I am incapable of sewing with a plan. Is it odd that I can commit to a multi-month one garment project but not a wardrobe? Maybe. But here's what is swirling in my brain for 2013...

Previously mentioned or in-process projects: 
  • Finish my red slip. Guests in the Craft Lounge (aka guest bedroom) really crimped year end sewing. So, this has been a one-seam-at-a-time project.
  • Pimped Pencil Skirt (possibly several versions) This is a drafting exercise and I am pretty psyched about it.
  • Wax cloth project (TBD) for my sisters. I'm hoping this will be a fun and easy project some time this spring.
2013 project ideas:

LBD - I want a black sheath dress. This was planned for 2012, but I scrapped the project at the muslin phase when the pattern needed more fitting than it was worth. So, I've regrouped and am going to try again with a different pattern.

BurdaStyle 07-2011-131

Shirts for Phineas - That man of mine is so very deserving. Also, I'm not sure if you are following the Thread Cult podcast series over on Daughterfish, but it is great. The most recent episode is "Sewing for Your Man."  I happened to be meeting up with Oonaballona, Daughterfish and Puu at Mood the evening it was recorded and even got to chime in. (What fun!) So, yes, Phin needs shirts and I need to show that man some love.

More Baby Gifts - In addition to my sister in law, my excellent friend Magenta and my sister Poly are both expecting. So there will, naturally, be a diaper bag gift for Magenta and a plethora of baby knitting in 2013.

And more for me - Right now my brain is on fire with thoughts of more Jean-ius pants, more slips and lingerie, and more drafting.There are a number of patterns burning a hole in my brain. I'm trying to talk myself out of another jacket at least until the Fall since they tend to take up so much time in my hands. Also, I want to try something new for me: some easy projects. LOL. 

I hope to have many more garments to show by this time next year. My last reflection on 2012 is how wonderful it was to meet so many other sewing bloggers and readers this year. I feel inspired by the talent, creativity and drive of others and am just itching to get back into the Craft Lounge in 2013.

Best wishes to everyone for a productive year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sayonara 2012!

When I quipped that there would be a lot to tell provided we survived the holidays, I had no idea that the week would go from busy with holidays to bumpy with family involved in one car accident, two ER visits, one migraine, an unexpected trip, a cancelled trip and general mayhem. Everyone is expected to make a full recovery, thankfully.

I had planned to do some kind of wrap up of 2012. I've loved seeing so many bloggers' top 5 lists for the year. But I didn't have time to think about it or write the post, and really, I think all I need to say about my 2012 year of sewing is:


But what fun would that be?  Honestly, I did many fewer sewing projects in 2012 than I'd like because of an over abundance of work travel and back injury. Plus, my jacket ate up a lot of sewing time. That said, I'm pretty happy with everything I've sewn this year. Here are the highlights.

My color block dress has been worn a ton. It is my go-to dress for when I feel good or want to look good.

My kimono is used daily. I'm glad I lined in silk every time I slip it on - it's luxurious and warm, but feels pretty light-weight and breathes.


 I can't wait to pull my seersucker pants and white jean-ius trousers out of winter storage once summer arrives. They both became overnight staples.

And the fashion star tunic/dress that I made for PR weekend gets regular use, too. I've been wearing it with leggings and boots now that it's cold out. It's easy to wear and was a fun holiday casual outfit.

My only real flop this year was quite recent:

Sleep bra that fit all wrong!

The kicker, of course, is that I love how it looks. It just doesn't fit.

Looking at my projects from the year, the thing that jumps out at me first is that I sewed many different kinds of fabrics in 2012: leather, silk, lace, cotton, jersey, ripstop... It was not a goal per se, but did make things fun and interesting and stretched my skills.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll share my plans (if you can call it that) for 2013!