Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Newest Member of our Family

Meet Jack Jack (that's what I"m calling him anyway, I'm sure DH will come up with a better name.)

He's cute, huh? I think so. Laila thinks so, too. But the little boy that I made him for, well he just shouted "I don't like it!" and ran away upon their first meeting. Which is strange since he welcomed his baby sister with such open arms. Hmmmm.Shawn is warming up to the little guy, but he's by no means anything special as of right now.

I made Jack Jack using the Mae doll pattern from Bit of Whimsy Dolls. I just left off the pig-tales (and eyelashes) & voila! a boy doll! I liked the pattern alright, though after purchasing it I decided that I undoubtedly could have drafted it myself. Oh well. The pattern pieces are hand drawn, which really isn't a big deal, but I expected something a little more professional in exchange for my $9 (the most I've ever paid for a PDF pattern). It came together really quickly (aside from getting distracted with other embroidery projects.) The only changes I made to the pattern was to embroider the face before stuffing the doll.

I will make a few more changes when I make Jack Jack's sister. I'll make the legs longer (simply to make it easier to attach them) and I'll turn the legs so the toes are pointed up rather than in. His sister will also be sewed into her clothes. I thought it'd be fun to make this little guy his own outfits...but well, ran out of steam. And to top it off, neither of my babies were ever this small. So, Jack Jack is a nudist for the time being.

I have this pattern to thank for introducing me to embroidery, as Jack Jacks face was hand-stitched by yours truly. Turned out pretty darn cute, just like my other kiddos, if I may say so myself.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I fought the Cardi...

.....and I won. But it was a close fight. Turns out the nipping & tucking was the easy part. I took the side seams in an inch & tapered to 5/8" at the hips. I took the arms in about 3/4". And all was well.

Then I had to decide whether or not I wanted buttons. For versatility's sake, I decided yes. So I moved on to the button holes. Which went beautifully. Once I figured out how to do it on my new machine.

Then came the buttons, which I sewed on by machine just to see if I could (I can!!!). After that I put her aside for a couple days & debated whether or not to take up the hem. Ultimately, I decided, yes. It needed shortening. So, being lazy & totally "over" this whole cardigan thing, I just folded the hem up again & stitched. Put her on and....the front centers didn't match. I mean, really didn't match. So, out came the seam ripper. And in my ripping fury I ripped not one, but two holes in my fabric. I just shrugged it off & kept on going. (After all, it is a knit so they won't fray. And they are rather inconspicuous.) I restitched the hem and...ta da! I'm declaring this one good enough. Wearable. Semi-well fitting, comfortable.  Warm. And purple.

I'll be writing up an official pattern review soon, but I wanted to get this post up, so consider this your sneak peak ;)

You know, it's funny. I drafted this post yesterday before I took pictures and now that I've taken pictures & am posting them-I like my sweater even more. I think it looks even better today than it did yesterday. I must've been holding a grudge ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Have Style: A Review

I bought this book on With shipping, the total came to $7. Excellent condition; slightly broken in, which I like since it makes the pages turn easier.

I had high hopes for this book. The reviews on Amazon were favorable & I liked what I saw in the preview. Suffice to say: I was not disappointed.

The First Impression: It's a good size book.  Lots of pictures with a variety of women with various lifestyles. 

The Good: Isaac's writing style strikes good balance between a friend & well, fashion designer. I was surprised to find a complete lack of "plugs" for his designs. He was not real heavy on trends. His emphasis was looking & feeling like you.

My favorite thing about this book is that Isaac is constantly pointing you back to yourself. ("Ask yourself: 'Does the mix feel right?', 'Ask yourself: What am I worth?', 'Who are you dressing for?') And there are some good self-examination exercises, too. The book includes a questionnaire to go through & answer (which I have yet to do)

The last section of the book is titled "What You Need" and says, "You want to stock your closet...with clothing staples: items that can be used in lots of different ways" I liked this portion of the book, but found some of the suggestions silly. Cowboy boots?? Ok, maybe. Belgian loafers? No. Not for me. Seven different watches? HAHAHA! Very funny. I don't even own one...and no, I don't really feel that I'm missing out.

The Bad: I did have a few qualms, however minor. The first makeover, for one, Manning. Three out of the four final outfits showcased her bra. A red bra. Granted, it was a pretty bra. I understand how that could be a  considered a "look",  but in my world....well, let's just say it would be inappropriate.

Also, the chapter "How to have style...and wake up from a jeans coma" consists of this: Wear dresses. Yep. That's it, ladies. Just throw on a dress. What about other options? Slacks, chinos, capris? Sweats?? (I joke.) In the climate that I live in, a dress simply won't do when it's -10 degrees outside.

The Verdict: Great book to have! I find myself skimming through it for inspiration & reminders.  I can't say that this book has changed my life, but it certainly has me re-evaluating how I shop--and sew! And why I wear what I do. It's progress, at least.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Good News & Bad News...

So, the good news is that I got mroe thread & my cardigan is effectively finished. It still lacks the buttons that I'm not sure it needs & I need to figure out how to do thread carriers for it, but for all intents & purposes, it's wearable.

The bad news is that it's too big. Not just too big...but bordering sloppy.

I do try my garments on as I sew them. In fact, I hacked 2" off the bottom of this before I added the sleeves. I should have taken more off. And, yeah, I noticed it was pretty loose, but I decided to let it play out. You know, in case it just spontaneously fit me when I finished.

It didn't.

When I put it on, it reminded me of my white cardigan, that I've never worn out the house. I was going to, but when I put it on, DH said it looked too casual with my skirt. And another look in the mirror told me he was right. It was too big to wear with a pencil skirt. And now, every time I put it on I feel self-conscious.

Anyway, back to this cardigan.  I took it in an inch at the side seams, using a basting stitch.  And then I did the same to the sleeve. I actually took in both sides, but pulled out the right side so I could get before & after pictures.

Also, the length. I was really unsure about the length--it hits me right in my widest spot. For the pictures, I just pinned the hem up again, taking it up an additional 1 1/2". I'm not sure if that's going to be the final length, though.

So, back to work. This thing will be wearable by the time I'm done. The weather might be too warm to wear it, but it'll fit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Question: How many yards of thread....

......does it take to sew a knit cardigan?

Image Credit

Answer: Over 220 yards. That's over 660 feet. Longer than 2 football fields lined up end to end. That's a lot.

The good news, I guess, is that my cardigan is almost finished. The bad news is that it won't be finished until I get some more thread.  I got this 220 yard spool from my mother-in-law's stash (Thanks Mom!) back when I first bought this fabric. I anticiapted the possibility of running out since I'm using my serger for the bulk of th sewing on this project, so before my trip to JOann's I took note of the thread number so I could match it. I did not take the spool.

Once I got my new thread home, I realized it was the same number, but it was, without a doubt, a very different shade. My new shade was magenta. Not purple. There could be a number of reasons. The "stash" thread could be "old", hence the different number. The stash thread is also labeled "quilting thread", the new thread is not.

I think I have enough thread to finish the cardigan & belt, but not enough to do the buttonholes. Sigh.

Let that be a lesson to us all....take the spool or a fabric swatch to the store. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I fought the Crepe & the Crepe won.....

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing, just keep sewing, sewing, sewing.....

Image Credit
Well, I put the Crepe in a ziplock yesterday. We need a break. It's been slow going, and I finally just decided that I'm not enjoying the process. It has nothing to do with the pattern, or the fabric this time. It's me.

I can't seem to get the bust darts to be un-dimpled, the bodice fit with the sash is completely different than it was without. The back (that I've had virtually no problems with since the first muslin) is very baggy. And to top it all off, the back neckline facing on the left side is too short. I haven't the faintest idea what happened there. I cut both back neckline pieces together, they were the same size. None of my alterations should have effected that particular piece of the garment...yadda yadda yadda. I have extra fabric so I could cut another piece & give it another go but...sigh. I just don't have it in me.

So, into the ziplock she goes. I came to the realization that at this point, I'm harboring such animosity toward this garment that even if it turned out I'm not sure I would wear it. Which is a shame. Because, boy, did I put a lot of time into it.

I'm washing my hands of it & moving onto the cardigan of New Look 6735 for my Spring sewing. My fabric is all laid out & ready to be cut. I'm looking forward to working with a knit again. As much as they intimidated me at first, I'm finding that I'm beginning to prefer working with knits over wovens.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sewing with a Plan

I have a ton of patterns & a fair amount of fabric yardage stashed.  And yet, I find myself browsing (and ultimately, buying) more. So I decided to take a good long look at what I have. And, really, there weren't any patterns or fabric that I forgot I had. So, that's good. I will not consider my stash out of control just yet. :)

Very rarely do I buy fabric "just because". I always have a pattern or at the very least a garment in mind for it. But as new patterns come out, or I come across new fabrics, the others that I did have plans for drop down the list of things to sew.

And Spring is coming! A lot of the fabric I bought when I was just getting into sewing is back in season. Gauze, linen, light weight cottons. It seemed only natural that I make a Spring Sewing Plan. I came up with 4 tops & 3 skirts. Plus a dress (maybe two, if my Crepe turns out, but it's not lookin' real promising from here). Here's a  quick look (created on Polyvore, again.)

And here are my actual fabrics:  

I'm not really sure about the pink & black plaid. I had bought the fabric to use for something for my daughter, and so now every time I see it, I have a hard time picturing it as a "grown up" straight skirt.

I've done a muslin for the Pendrell, and I've decided to do a couple alterations--I think I'll need to take the hips in a bit. I've also sewn the straight skirt (McCalls 3830) but it turned out too big, so I'll be adjusting that pattern a bit as well. 

That being said, I think I'm going to start with the knit Cardigan. It should be pretty quick project & it will give me a fresh start. We'll see where inspiration leads me from there.

My plan may be a bit ambitious, but if you aim for the moon, even if you miss you're bound to land amongst the stars, right?? And the important thing is that I get some of this yardage sewn I can buy more. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Well, THAT didn't last long...

Image Credit

Sooooo. About that pattern buying freeze. Yeah. I broke down & bought 2 new patterns. But I can justify it. See, I was looking at the classifieds on Pattern Review (who in there right mind looks at classifieds when they are supposed to be, uhm, NOT shopping?!)

Anyway, there was/is this lovely lady who is selling all her knit patterns (and her serger, if anyone is interesetd.) So. I just couldn't pass it up. They were $3 a piece plus shipping.

I grabbed Vogue 8669, which is a simple cowl neck top with 3 sleeve options. I just love cowl necks. I could be way off, here, but I think they are classic & look nice with anything. I usually only buy patterns after I've read the reviews on them (it seems to give me a head start) but this one didn't have any, so I'll be flying blind.

The second pattern I bought is Vogue 8685 which has glowing reviews and happens to aleady have been on my wishlist.

So there's my confession. My pathetic attempt at a pattern buying freeze lasted short of two weeks. Ah. This obsession called sewing. In my defense, I'm currently working up a stitching "plan", using only fabrics & patterns that I have on hand. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


One of the recommendations of "How to Have Style" (yes, I realize I still need to officially review this read. For now, I'll leave it at this: I'm glad I bought it.) is to build your own inspiration board. "Personal style is what comes out when you discover your likes & dislikes, your own sense of what's right & what's wrong. This applies to clothing, cooking a meal, arranging a bouquet-anything & everything," Issac says.

He recommends collecting photos over a period of time of things that you like. Not just clothing. But things that inspire you. I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I don't subscribe to a lot of magazines & I couldn't get my images to look cohesive in Photoshop. And then I remembered Polyvore. So I set out to make an inspiration board, or two. :)

Now, these are far from inclusive. It's kind of opposite from what the book reocmmends. Instead of "stumbling" across inspiration, I was actively searching for it. Which worked well for me, I think. :)

My first set is black & white, with some red thrown in for some color. The black & white combo has always been a "fall back" for me. In fact, I realized a year ago that black was taking over my closet, so I started buying browns instead of black & introducing more & more color. It's a work in progress.

Black White & Red

Black White & Red by Seamstress In Training on

The next set I created is much more colorful & bright. What can I say--I'm craving spring.  Gerbera daisies are my favorite so I started off with those. 

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