Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In High Spirits

I love this time of year.  I was nursing a holiday hangover yesterday and reading through my blog roll when I came across this post from the always fabulous Oonaballoona.  And boy was I surprised to see my name and likeness.  Burdastyle sent out a happy holiday wish and there I am among all sorts of super awesomeness!  So much fun.   I've been playing around a bit with this thinglink thingamajig.  It looks like a very cool way to create collages and also embed links.    Anyway, just a slightly self-indulgent post, eh?  Ok, maybe totally excessive.  

Hope you all had a very merry holiday and wishing you a fantastic new year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Y'all

I said I wasn't going to make anything this year for Christmas.  I said I was going to give myself a break this year.   But I couldn't resist making a few things.  Although I didn't go crazy like I did last year.  Just a few handmade gifts.  I did a bit of shopping on etsy, too.  So I'm still giving handmade things, just not made by my hands.

After my earlier trouser fiasco I thought you might like to see one pair of trousers I didn't screw up-- salad pants!!  I mean, who doesn't want a pair of salad pants for Christmas?  For my brother the chef, in case you are wondering.  How awesome is that salad fabric.  I'm pretty sure he won't read this before tomorrow.  Hopefully.  
The cookies were made after I saw a picture on someone else's blog but I can't remember which.  They're peanut butter.  I ran out of red noses and antlers halfway through so there's some green-nosed antler-less reindeer, too.  But delicious regardless.

 Wishing you all a very, merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pants Schmants

Big fat failure.  

I  hate making pants.

To be fair, though, these trousers were a ufo from almost two years ago.  Early on in my sewing adventures I decided to have a go at making pants.  I used Simplicity 2700, a trouser pattern from the Amazing Fit collection. Being a total novice, I was completely undaunted by the idea of fitting trousers.   I remember thinking I should cut a size larger- that way I wouldn't have any issues with being too snug in the hip and thigh.  I figured I could then just spend some time taking them in at all the right places.  Fit issues solved, right?

Yikes! Posted only for the good of the group.

Anyway, that's not how it worked out.   When I started these, however many months ago, I pretty much finished everything except the waistband.  They were hanging in my closet unfinished because I mistakenly thought I still had to do the fly.  I didn't realize that I had actually already sewn the fly, just not the waistband.   My two-year-ago-sewing-self didn't do a half-bad job on the fly.  Not necessarily good, but not horrible.  They are made from very lightweight denim- no stretch.

 Let's compare to my favorite pair of jeans.   I think it's interesting to see the two side by side.   I know that the main reason the trousers on the right don't work is the size.  I went up a size and I shouldn't have.  Also, the fact that they are trousers is a factor.   The fit is different than a normal pair of jeans.  Trousers are less fitted through the upper thigh and hip.   They hang from the bum while jeans conform a little more.  I don't like my jeans to be super tight.  Also, my favorite pair of jeans has an awesome knee dart and triangle shape insert below.  I'd love to be able to come up with a pattern for that.  Have you ever seen anything like that in a commercial trouser pattern before?  Also, why is the fly reversed? 

There may be too many differences for true comparison, but here are a few observations on Simplicity 2700 anyhow; rise is too high (combined with the larger size means the crotch hangs too low), something is off with the crotch depth (don't ask me about crotch length, I have no clue) and the waistband is perfect for a Lego person.  On the plus side, I feel like these would work well in a  heavy, drape-y wool.  Something with a bit of stretch.  I like the double dart included in the "curvy" version.  I think the darts help with the fit above the bum, though I'm not particularly happy with the rear view.

Oh well.  Moving on. Every sewing experience is just that, I guess- a little more experience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy and Homey

This is a totally random post.  J and I had our two year wedding anniversary a couple of days ago and we celebrated by cooking at home, sipping champagne and decorating the tree.  Last year we were bah-humbugs and didn't get a tree.  The year before, we were on our honeymoon.

I have decided that this shall be our new wedding anniversary tradition from now on.   It was so much fun.   It made us both feel all happy and homey.  Could have been the champagne, too.

Anyway, I played around with the camera and took these photos.  I thought I'd share since I'm trying to be more adventurous with camera settings.  I took several photography classes in high school and college but I remember nothing about all the manual settings.  I'm guilty of having a really nice camera and shooting in automatic mode all the time.

These photos are totally unedited and were taken in a dark room with only the tree lights on.   I used the aperture priority mode, adjusting aperture and exposure compensation.  They're a little blurry.  And completely unoriginal.  
But still fun.

Anyone want to share what mode they like to shoot in?  Or any favorite camera settings?
Just curious.

Happy, homey wishes to you!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Steph, you are awesome.
Notice that there's already one missing?

A package came in the mail the other day.  J came in asking what in the world I ordered from Australia.  I won a giveaway over on 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World for some awesome buttons and trimmings.  I was joking when I told Steph to send me a Cherry Ripe-- well, okay I was halfway joking.  Ok, I was secretly hoping.

Ok, I shamelessly proposed the idea.

Anyway, Steph you are totally awesome.  She sent me not one, but three Cherry Ripes.  One was promptly eaten.  I spent a year of college in Australia years ago and I had quite a penchant for Cherry Ripes.  (That and Toohey's New, but that's a whole other story...) We don't have anything like it here.  It was so much fun to get a package from the far side of the world.

In sewing news, I made another baby robe.  This one for a friend who I am also sewing nursery bedding and curtains for.  I wanted it to match the nursery bedding- the fabric underneath the robe.  I realized that the only fabric I had that matched perfectly was an expensive piece of linen I had been saving for something special.  I decided that since Steph was so generous with her giveaway, I could be generous with my linen.  Hopefully the baby likes luxury.

And one more thing relating to awesomeness-- THANK YOU for all the incredible comments on my painted jacket post.  I really was excited about the project but I had some fear that everyone would think it was really absurd.   I cannot tell you how flattered I am by all the nice words.  I don't say it often enough, but I really appreciate all the support and encouragement I receive from everyone through this little ol' sewing blog.  Even if you just come and lurk, that's encouragement enough for me and I am grateful that you are here.  The online sewing community is such a caring and inspiring place.  I'm just in awe of it sometimes.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

Ok, ok.  Before you make judgments about my personal style, just know that I approached this as an art project.  Not necessarily something I'll be wearing on a regular basis.  Though there is a part of me that really likes this jacket.  Call it batty old art teacher style.  You'll see it all over the runways soon.

Do you read no big dill?  If you don't, I highly recommend it.  Katy is a designer/sewist/mom extraordinaire who comes up with the most creative, artsy things.  I enjoy reading her blog so much and I love her sense of style and color.   She's also the genius behind the Once Upon a Thread series where sewists are challenged to create a project inspired by a favorite children's book. 


I decided I wanted to play along last week.   I love sewing practical and useful things, of course- but isn't it fun to make something totally wacky and frivolous every once in a while?  I wanted to try some techniques I haven't attempted yet.  Painting fabric, namely.   It seems like the perfect marriage between my day job and sewing.  


Now I realize that most people who participated in this challenge sewed for their own children.  I don't have any children of my own yet, but I do teach art to almost 600 a week!   I spend most of my day socializing with four to ten year olds (oh the things I hear...) so I felt like this challenge was right up my alley.

I chose the book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow.  I collect kid's books that have to do with any sort of art-- being an art teacher.  But I also L-O-V-E the illustrations in this book.  They're completely wild.  Very Dr. Seuss-esque.  For those of you out there who are horrified by the improper language, just know that Karen Beaumont based the words on an old folk song, It Ain't Gonna Rain No More.  The book can be read, sung or chanted-- whatever.  I've read it and I've also sung it to my kindergartners.  But only when the aide is not in the room.  I have no problem singing to 25 six year olds, but not to another adult ;)

The book starts out-
One day my momma caught me 
paintin' pictures on the floor
and the ceiling
and the walls
and the curtains
and the door
and I heard my momma holler
like I never did before...

 Don't you love the drawings?  Look at those little feet sticking up out of the bathtub.

But of course the main character does paint again. Then the book goes on and talks about all the places he paints.  Good for teaching body parts.
I read some reviews of the book where parents were upset about the book encouraging kids to paint all over the place, but I think most kids know the book is silly and fun.  At least the age that I read it to does.

Here's my fabric painting set up in case you are interested.  I sacrificed a few old towels and laid them out on our dining room table. Then I covered the whole thing with brown postal paper.  It only seeped through in a few places on to the towels.  I decided to cut my pattern pieces first instead of just painting the whole piece of fabric.  I figured I would have more control over what color went where.  I used a white cotton bull denim, which was a dream to work with.  I wet my pattern pieces first so they would absorb the paint better.  I tried to treat it as I would a watercolor painting but not all the same techniques applied.   Tricky to do an even wash on cloth.   Fabric is much more absorbent than paper, so the paint continued to "travel" long after I stopped painting.  Some colors overtook others while some seemed to have less pigment.  It was a fun experiment.


I used Jacquard Dye-na-flow paints which I ordered from Dharma Trading Company.  They have any number of fabric paints.  I chose these particular paints because they are thin- like dye- so the fabric stays soft.  You can heat set, too, which is a plus.  I cut a few linoleum stamps for the paint splotches and ants.  I brought out my old printmaking supplies and blew the dust off.  Super fun.  Funny how I keep band-aids in with my linoleum cutters-- and yes I needed one later.  I always poke myself.  I used standard black fabric paint for the stamps.

 The ants are on the inside, creeping out around the lapel.  I love me some stripey buttons, too.
I decided to put piping around the faux pocket flaps and lapels.  I wanted to bring in some more black like the illustrations.  All the top stitching is done with black thread.

The jacket pattern is Butterick 5647.  I used the variation with the shawl collar but also used the cuffed 3/4 length sleeves.  I wanted the jacket to have a shrunken feel so I went down a whole size.  I actually really like the fit even if it is a tiny bit short on me.  Quite a nifty little jacket pattern, if you ask me.  I liked the construction.  This one will be bookmarked for a more wearable jacket one day. 

Quit all that racket!
Gonna paint my....


(sorry- lame attempt at rhyming...)

 I sure did have fun working on this.   I'm happy I broke out some old art supplies, too.  It's about time some of those things saw the light of day again.  Hooray Katy, for your awesome idea! I really enjoyed seeing all the things made that were inspired by kid's books.

There's got to be SOME time and place appropriate to wear a hand painted jacket, right?

And I can't promise you that I ain't gonna paint no more...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter Maxi

 A friend of mine was wearing a long sleeve tee dress the other day (from Anthropologie, of course) and I decided I really wanted one.  I wear maxi dresses in the summertime.  Why not make a winter maxi?  I had just finished my stripey green monster dress at the time.  I was happy with that one but there were definitely a few fit issues.  The main one being the extra fabric and ease at the lower back.  I've never needed a sway back adjustment before, though.  I think the issue was from the fact that I frankenpatterned a tee shirt pattern with my a-line skirt pattern.

Anyway, this time around I made a paper pattern and adjusted for the extra ease on the back piece.  I pinched out a dart in the tee shirt pattern I was using (Burda 2-2011 again) and transferred the new shape to my pattern piece.  It was all highly untechnical.  Then I just free handed a curve out to the skirt portion of the pattern.  My a-line skirt pattern was my guide.  The length was a guess.  It turned out okay.  I mean, it is just a tee shirt dress after all.  There's still some pooling at the back, but not as much.  I could use a bit more length.  But now I have a paper pattern to play with anyway.

The black knit is a cotton/rayon blend interlock.  My body is not smooth enough for one thin tee shirt layer anymore so I underlined the whole thing with a periwinkle blue cheap polyester ITY knit.    It gives it a nice drape but man, is it heavy!  I had no idea it would pull downward so much.  I used black braided elastic around the neckline to keep it from pulling too much and some twill tape at the shoulder seams.

I like the style and the silhouette.  I can see this becoming a very useful pattern with a little more tweaking.
Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Improper Coat

This turned in to a way bigger project than I had originally anticipated.  It started with a funky fabric purchase.  Something called high performance waterproof pique-front fleece, whatever that is.  I ordered it on a whim, mainly because I liked the warm, grey color.  Also because I was trying to make it to the free shipping amount at fabric.com (they get me every time).  I knew I wanted to make myself a fleece jacket at some point this winter.

At first I thought I'd make a standard zip up fleece jacket.  I have a red ready-to-wear one that is pretty much my everyday jacket.  Winter here is mild, except for a few weeks in January/February.  But then I thought about how boring that would be to make.  It would be practical, but no fun to make.  So I made this instead.

This is Burda 7314, one of their envelope patterns.  I can't find a site to link this pattern to- is everything on Burdastyle now?  One of their pattern books just popped up recently at my local fabric store.  I like the over-sized swingy, a-line shape and the pleat at the back.  The jury is still out on the bubble sleeves, but all in all it's a very comfy coat.  But what does the "young" mean?  I didn't notice any difference in sizing.  In fact, it ended up very large.  There's a lot of ease built in to this pattern.

I didn't want to line the coat since one side of my fabric is soft while the other side is apparently waterproof pique (strange!).  I decided to try my hand at binding all the interior seams even though the fabric didn't fray.  I just figured it would look nice.  This is where the word "improper" comes in to play again.  I know I didn't bind everything correctly.  I cut my own bias bindings from scraps of a vintage cotton I had in my stash.  Holy cow, I had to make a lot of bias.  Miles and miles of it.  But it was a good learning experience.   Always fun to try something new.  I'll be able to do a proper Hong Kong seam finish next time.  Any way, this coat looks nice enough on the inside.  In hindsight, I should have cut the back piece like the lining piece in the pattern- on the fold- and eliminated the odd rectangle down the back.

Below you can see good close ups of the fabric- fleece-y on the inside and pique on the outside.  I like it because you can't really tell it's fleece when I'm wearing it, except for the drape.  Not exactly the same drape you'd get from wool.

Stripey buttons and welt (?) pockets.  The pockets really are even- just the weird angle of the photo.  Are these considered welt pockets?  There's no actual welts-  it's just the window and a bit of the pocket peeking through.

I'm pretty happy with it despite it's impropriety! I've already worn it everyday this week.  It will be my go-to coat this winter as I don't need anything much warmer.  It's big enough to fit a bulky sweater underneath  and light enough for fall days, too.  I can throw it in the wash, too.  Another perk of the improper fabric.

Wishing everyone a great week!
Happy sewing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making The Grade

I'm still here.
Just busy.  Lots going on around the Jane household.

I also hurt my back (at risk of sounding like an old lady).  I actually think it may be sewing related, as crazy as that sounds.  I sit in the crappiest, broke-down desk chair with no back when I sew.  The table I use doesn't allow the chair to be too close, so I'm constantly leaning over.   I did some marathon sewing the other week and by the weekend I was out of commission.   I'm just now feeling better.  What sort of chair do you sit in when you sew?  I've got to find a better setup.   I'm wondering if standing would be nice. 

These photos are from a while back.  I drafted an 18 month size baby robe.  Special order for a coworker.  I say I drafted it because I did.  From scratch.  Again. 
 I thought it would be easier than trying to grade a pattern.  Grading doesn't make much sense to me.  I don't see how everyone can be evenly and incrementally larger.  I also don't quite understand how you know which seams to add more to and which less.  Do some seams require different proportions when grading?  Where do you get the measurements from?  Not that precise grading is a huge deal on a relax-fit baby robe, but I'm curious.   I need a robe pattern in between my big one and small one now.  I'm debating whether I should just take the difference between the two or draft another one based on 9-12 month measurements.

I'm sure there's some good information 'round the interwebs on grading.  Any links are appreciated!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dear Sofa...

Oh, hello there!  Long time, no see, my friend.
Even though I walk by you everyday on the way out the door.

I haven't forgot about you.   No really,  I haven't.  You've been shoved in the corner and seemingly forgotten.  But I'm here to tell you it isn't so.  In fact, I went to the fabric store the other day to check on your would-be new, snazzy attire aaaannndd...

Bad news.  It's gone.

Gone.  No more.  Defunct.  Won't be ordered without a forty yard purchase (crazy!).

I've searched high and low online and alas, it's no where to be found.

There's one more fabric store to check.  But at the same time, it may be fun just to pick out something new.  You know?

We won't be going to the fabric store again until we have the money to purchase fabric.
Pick out and purchase in the same day.  That's the way to do it.
You're going to be an expensive one, by the way.

So don't fret.  I haven't forgotten about you.  

We'll fix you up one day soon.

Even though this little monster doesn't seem to mind you in your current musty, shabby shape.
(She has deemed it her daytime nap spot.  And by 'daytime nap'  I mean sleeping all day long)

Put your mind (stuffing?) at ease, sofa.  We'll make Milton and Geraldine proud. 

Liza Jane
(and J, too, because he has to help)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Feel Special


I'm so pumped!!  Burdastyle featured my stripey dress as the member project of the week
I was having kind of a crappy day, too.  This totally turned it around!

If you are visiting from Burdastyle- welcome!  I'm so glad you stopped by!
Is that enough exclamation points?...!!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fashion According to Six Year Olds: Green Stripey Monster

Oh boy, am I tickled with this one!  I giggled the whole time I was sewing this up.   It's been in my head for a long time now.   Back in February, I blogged about an art lesson I was teaching my first graders.  They answered the question, Is clothing art? and designed their own clothing using all sorts of wallpaper scraps.   It's a great lesson.  We designed clothing on a large sheet of paper underneath an oval.  At the end, we cut out the oval and the kids "try on" their creations by holding their face up to the oval.  Hilarity ensues.    

Anyway, last year I had students spend a day sketching ideas first, much like a real fashion designer would.  Six year old fashion designers!  Their drawings were so amazing- I was totally inspired.   I knew I had to try and make something they designed.   I finally got around to it this past weekend.


I had the perfect fabric in my stash for the little green top- this stripey rayon knit.  Don't you love the scallops?  Ha! That's what convinced me to make it up.  It's not exactly like the drawing, of course.  Just my interpretation of it.  The fabric is quite possibly the most difficult fabric I've worked with yet.  It's lightweight, bouncy, super drape-y, clingy and very stretchable.  I fought with it.  Battled with it.  I ended up underlining it with a cotton interlock that was much better behaved.  I was very careful not to stretch out the rayon knit as I basted it to the interlock.  I think it worked out.  I'll be interested to see what happens when I wash the dress.

It's definitely not perfect, but I love it anyway.  I used my favorite Burda 2-2011 long sleeve tee pattern (are you tired of hearing about it?) to make up the dress pattern.  I also used my a-line skirt pattern to help guide me on width and length for the bottom half of the dress.  I wish I had actually made a paper pattern because I'd love to make another tee shirt dress in the future, but I didn't.  I just pinned everything on the fabric as I went.  I had to piece the back because of the direction of the stripes.  We'll just call that an intentional design feature.

Alright, so it may make my butt look big-- I'm okay with that.  It's a tee dress.  For loungin'.

I sewed the scallops first.  I fused tricot interfacing to the hem of the rayon knit and then sewed the scallops with the interlock, right sides facing.   Sherry, your tutorial was mucho helpful.   I flipped the interlock to the inside, carefully poked and pressed the scallops.  It didn't take long at all.  Then I treated the interlock like an underlining and basted all the edges.  At risk of upsetting the sewing gods, I didn't do it by hand.  I used a super wide zig zag stitch and loosened up the top thread tension all the way.  Worked like a charm.   Then I sewed up the rest of the dress with a narrow zig zag, matching stripes.  One sleeve is a tiny bit off.  Luckily I am not a perfectionist.  I love the neck binding and how it looks like two different pieces.

I had an incredibly awesome time making this.  So much fun bringing one of those drawings to life.  I may have to try another soon.  That bicycle tee is calling my name...