Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring for Cotton and a dress I think I love, but I'm not sure that I do...

Have you heard? Lucky Lucille is starting a sew a long. Following the template of Fall for Cotton, Lucky Lucille is bringing us Spring for Cotton. The requirements for this sew a long? 100% cotton and vintage pattern inspiration. I know it sounds simple but isn't that what is so amazing about it? I've done the Fall for Cotton sew a long before and it was so much fun. I drafted my own pattern, and it was wildly successful.

Naturally I was once more inclined toward making my own pattern. I was inspired by a pattern book my friend gave me from 1947. There is this image in it that has this great rolled collar. I was fascinated by it and by figuring it out. It was like a fantastic puzzle! I just kept looking at it and I just wanted to know how it "rolled" to use the pun.

They classify this collar as a vest. It says it right there in black and white, but for some reason I kept trying to make it attach to my bodice. I was saying to myself, "Where does it attach to the bodice?". The answer is that it doesn't, it doesn't at all, it's a vest, and vests don't often attach to things, that is what makes them vests.

The whole process for this dress was fascinating to me and at the same time I wasn't sure that I liked it. Have you ever had that moment when you are drawn to a project and you cannot explain or understand why? I think that is where I am now. In theory I love this dress, in practice however, I am not sure that I do. 

I have decided to combine my late 40's bodice and vest with a more 50's inspired dirndl skirt. I want something that I can wear for spring and will look crisp for work. I drew it out and I was still oddly attracted to it but vexed as to why. Also at the time I drew this I was still thinking that this was not a vest and that it was part of the bodice some how. ***It took a while before I figured this out. It wasn't until I actually made the darn thing that I realized how it worked. I did not even learn this in the pattern phase. It made me feel a little dim, but it did actually work, so I guess it works.

Once I had my design worked out it was time to start patterning. I started by draping a simple two dart sloper. One of the reason's I went the direction of creating a sloper is because the 1947 pattern book uses a sloper as a starting point for pattern modification. On a side note I haven't had a sloper since I lost all my weight, so it was good to create a jumping off point for this and future projects.

After I had a draped sloper I commenced with the pattern modifications. All the while I was questioning this project and yet at the same time being drawn in further. It is a very strange and new sensation for me to be on the one hand incredibly certain and on the other hand highly suspect. It's exciting and a little scary.

When I first made up the muslin I was appalled by the collar. I think that the reason I was so repulsed by the collar was because it wasn't until I made the muslin and tried to attach the collar to the bodice that I realized this pattern piece needed to be a separate vest not an attached collar. It was very vexing. I wanted this collar to be attached and this pattern was being willfully disobedient. 

The more I looked at this collar and bodice, the more I began to love them. Like really love them. Once it really sunk in that the collar needed to be a separate vest I began to embrace it. Something that I also began to think about was what this dress may look like without the vest on. I mean if the vest was going to be separate, then the dress had better be cute! That part I am still working out, but I Have an inclination toward a fold back collar with an abstract mandarin stand. I haven't tested it out but I think it will work.

Another query I was having was how this collar was going to stay in place on the dress. Now that I have accepted that this collar was actually a vest I wanted to know that once on the dress it was going to stay in place and look cute. I think that I have realized that by employing a series buttonholes, loops, and belt like waistband, I could keep the vest where it needs to be and make it all work.

For now that's the where I am on this project. I have more questions than I usually do when I start a new endeavor, but that in and of itself is exciting. Who knows what road this dress will take me down, but it's exciting. I'm going to make this look GOOD!.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Round Robin of Spring Gifting Anyone?

I have this idea that's been buzzing through my head for the past few weeks. A few friends of mine were part of a geeky gift exchange. I have been thinking that it would be wonderful to institute a sewers gift exchange. This winter has been so long, there has been so much snow, honestly I could use a pick me up, and I have a theory that I'm not alone.

I was thumbing through my stash of patterns and fabrics and it got me thinking. I have so much fabric, I know there are some pieces I'll never use, and there are some patterns that I love and would like to share with someone else. It would be a sort of spring gifting rather than spring cleaning. It would also be a way to get to know some other crafters out there in the world.

These are some of the items I received in a giveaway last year from Lucky Lucille. Think of it as inspiration for your gift pack. Doesn't have to be a ton of stuff, just something sweet.

Here's how it will work. Comment on this post and I will send you a questionnaire to fill out and match you up with a fellow sewer. You will also get the questionnaire of a fellow sewer so that you can make a gift pack for them. Here are some of the parameters:

1) This is open to anyone who is interested, but you must comment signed in so that I can email you or leave your email in your comment.

2) Ideally you will send either patterns you like or fabric you loved upon purchase but may never get around to using. You could also send notions of a little sewing tool that you love.

3) You may spend money on the items for your gift pack but I would like to cap any additional out of pocket expense at $20.

4) You must write a note to send along with your package.

5) All items should be posted by April 30th.

6) If you blog throw up a post when you receive your gifty. Let us know about it.

7) This is going to be open to international sewers and there will be a question on the survey about your willingness to ship internationally.

I'm happy to answer any questions. This is the first time we're doing it and if it goes well perhaps we'll do it again. It's so exciting!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Electric Purple and Sequin Leopard

Every once in a while, as I am perusing the wares at my local textile dispensary, my fingertips will graze an item so deliciously dangerous and out of my normal taste, that I simply cannot fight the urge and I must make it mine. This happened to me recently with an electric purple twill and a black sweater knit with matte gold sequin leopard print pattern. So basically these fabrics are amazing.

I made my own skirt pattern and then I'm sure you guessed it, I rolled out a Gertie pattern for my top. I did her knit sweetheart top and it is so cute!!!

I want to have a moment for my pattern weights. They look like gold spools of thread and they are so awesome. My friend Todd made them on his lathe and they are one of my absolute favorite sewing tools. They are the perfect weight and the perfect size. As you can see I am in love!

The quandary I had was how I was going to bind the neck and sleeve edges. That is when I took a little peek at the fabric and saw that they had made this sweater knit with a very generous band of unsequined fabric near the selvage. Score! I used that to bind my edges and I was super pleased!

Another bonus in finishing this project was that I got to spend more time with the ever so talented Mary, for our little photoshoot. We had some beers, delicious, and then we split a bucket of endless wings, also delicious. We refilled that stuff three times. I will say that the bartender was trying to be stingy with wings, but we were like, "We're growing girls and that menu item said endless, so keep em' coming...please" They were delicious!

I had so much fun in both the making and the photographing. I was thinking that perhaps the next project we could shoot outside, but mother nature just dumped another 6" of the awful white stuff on us. Will it never end? Well more soon!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Race Day Attire

Hello loyal readers. I want to throw up a quick post about winning the race without actually winning the race.

As many of you may be aware I am new to the sport of mountain biking. When you read that you can also read, "not very good yet". So what do you do when your goal is just to finish the race, but you want to make sure you still win the race? Well that's easy you look like a winner. In my case, a solid gold winner. 

The majority of my outfit was scrapped together through the cornucopia of options on eBay and Amazon. However I put my own magic into making and amazing helmet cover. 

I made the decision early that I wanted to be a unicorn. Then again, who doesn't? I wanted to roll down that hill with all the majesty and grace of that mythical beast. Once more I beg the question, who doesn't? I ordered a gold lamé leotard, a fancy neon tutu, and the most amazing leggings to ever grace a person's body. All I now required was a helmet cover that was sufficiently amazing to make my transformation complete. That's where my knitting skills came in. I found this unicorn hat pattern for free on It was simple to follow and I only added a few extra stitches at the outset to accommodate my helmet.

Admittedly not my neatest stitching but I did it in one night and it was absolutely perfect for the race! The hardest part was putting the hair in for the main. It was 30 sections of hand hooked yarn. Trying though it was, once it was finished, it was magical! Then coupled with the whole outfit? How could one resist it!

The wifey and I had a ton of fun getting ready to go to the race and driving up. She requested a mini birthday hat to tie to her helmet, which I whipped up that morning. Of course we needed to see it on her as well as on all of the dogs. As you will see it was a completely natural morning, nothing out of the ordinary.

Even packing up the car was a blast! This race was all my wife wanted to do for her birthday and we were having fun from the moment we got up.

We got lunch and stopped at 3 Brothers Brewery in Harrisonburg, VA to pick up some brew for post race celebration. We of course got some gourmet diet root beer for the dear wife's post race imbibement.

Upon arriving at Bryce Mountain, we unloaded our bikes and got kitted up for the race. Clearly I look amazing.

The race itself was fun. I was predictably back of the pack, but I absolutely made it to the bottom of the hill without incident. I am perfectly comfortable with that considering it was my sixth time on a mountain bike at all, my first time doing downhill, and also my first time doing it on snow.

At the start of the race you had to run to your bike for the start. I think this may have been the only time I was front of the pack. A friend of ours Mark, got some great pictures of the race start.

Robin at the race start looking fierce.

I am on the far left, with Deb next to me, and Robin next to her.

This is where you can really see my unicorn like speed. Look at that stance!

What'd I tell yah front of the pack!

This is where it started to wane, as I reached my bike.

The women all the way on the right were some super competitive downhillers from Richmond, they were hardcore.

This dear readers is where I got on my bike and proceeded to drive Miss Daisy all the way down the hill.

My dear wife however had a slight mishap on her trial run. When I got down to the bottom she said that she had wiped out and that she was sore. I asked if she wanted to go and she predictably said no that she wanted to head back up for the actual race portion of the day. So we did the race after which she was more sore, but still wanted to stay for dinner with the gang from Bike Stop of Culpeper (far and away the best bike shop ever) and then she drove us home.

Upon getting home however we realized that she couldn't lift anything, it hurt too bad, and then when she tried to lay down she was in agony. We took her to Urgent Care and they did something called a compression test. This is apparently where some sadistic doctor squeezes you exactly where your pain is to see if you've broken your rib or pulled a muscle. Based on her excruciatingly painful screams our personal sadist decided that she had a broken rib at least, and probably in two places. She then went into shock and passed out. She stood for one X-ray and then passed out again so we ixnayed any further X-rays. She doesn't really remember urgent care, she continually exclaimed, "This is SO stupid!", "I didn't even place", and "I didn't even get a medal". Her greatest pain in all of this was not placing, gosh I love this woman.

She's resting and wrapped in an ace bandage and regularly taking ibuprofen is feeling slightly better. Her greatest disappointment is having to be off her bike for four weeks and not medalling of course. After all that she is still very glad we did the race. We did have a very good day. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kazoo Krew

I seem to be woman of extremes. I don't tend to be ambivalent about anything. Topping my list is of course my lovely wife, Deb, after that sewing is relatively all consuming and then I have Roller Derby and Mountain Biking. My latest project combined sewing and derby. Once I make my wife one, it'll tie her in too.

My roller derby team has this thing for a kazoos and we've decided that we'll be the Kazoo Krew. Kazoos are going to be our thing. Naturally I've concluded that we need t-shirts. When we do this on a larger scale I'll make a screen and just screen printing them, but for practice I cut a stencil out of freezer paper based on a drawing I did.

This tattoo lettering was really easy to space out which was a relief. They came out quite nice. After drawing it out I inked it to make it easier to trace onto the freezer paper. the freezer paper is relatively transparent but the inking just made it easier to trace.

Once it was transferred to the freezer paper, the tedious portion of the project came in as I broke out my exacto knife and began to delicately cut out the letters/imagery. I did the stencil in three layers, one for the kazoo, one for the kazoo detail, and one for the lettering. I next ironed the freezer paper into the proper place. Then I broke out my foam brush and began to paint on the lettering.

Printing Layer 1

Printing Layer 2

Printing Layer 3

Finished Printing

With the printing done I had to deal with fit. I like my clothes to be tight fitting. I wanted to do to this t-shirt what I've done to others of mine in the past. That is to cut off the sleeves, making it kind of a raglan cut without sleeves and then to take in the waist by adding a side seam. This is the shirt I am modeling it on:

One thing that I have found that helps to get the armscye to really snug up to the body is to run some elastic from midway up the bust to the same point on the back. It ends up quite snazzy.

You can just barely see the elastic serged into the seam allowance on the armscye.

There's my nifty little side seam. It's really gives off my little bit of curve fit and flair.

BOOM! I'm quite pleased with the result. Can't wait to unveil it to the team and have to have a party where we all can make our own. Here comes the Kazoo Krew. Toot toot.