Yellow Dress

 Have I mentioned yet how much I love the color yellow? It's bright and happy and oh so pretty. I pretty much liked it before it became all trendy. It all started with my knit yellow hat. I made that almost 3 years ago, and I just picked up the yellow yarn and was like... ooo this would be such a great color for a hat! My goodness, that is what I looked like everyday at art school.. kind of scary..


Anyway, back to the yellow dress. I went for the Simplicity pattern mostly because the dress would be yellow. Also, I don't have everything for the other dress, and I wanted to work with what I had instead of using "everything's not ready" as an excuse to not make a dress. And now I have a yellow dress :)

This dress was pretty simple to make, and I only made one change. I made my own straps. Now, for the straps, as you can see on the right, they look different from each other. The first one I made, I ran it through the machine with my normal, 'I use it for everything' foot. Since the strap has interfacing, it had a slight drag against the foot. I thought to myself... HEY I have a walking foot! why aren't I using that? So I busted it out for the next strap and voila! no more uneven seams. Quality equipment makes life so much simpler.

Construction was pretty simple, I had to rip out one of the yoke/pocket pieces because I sewed it on backwards (the only confusing part of the whole thing). Cris-cross in the back and buttons on front, NO hemming (yay!) and there we have it. :)


Sewing: Next week's project

I'm planning on making a dress before the Shirt Sew-Along project next month. I want to oil up my squeaky sewing muscles. So I dug through my fabric stash, and went through all the patterns I bought recently (love those 99 cent sales) and I've come down to two dresses.

The first one would be Butterick 5520:
pros - classy dress, great fabric, and I can wear it in winter and not freeze to death.
cons - very "I'm going to the office" look, also, I don't have a lace detail in my stash, and I'm not too sure about the shoulder pads.

If I did this one, I'd go for view B. Love the peplum detail. The fabric is a very light gray herringbone. It looks darker in the picture, and looked darker online where I bought it, but I don't think it'll be too bad as a dress. I'll probably find some yellow accents for it to make it pop (belt and lace detail on the shoulder)

The next option would be Simplicity 2362 view E:

Pros and Cons of the Simplicity:
Pro - I have everything at hand now
Con - I'ts a summer dress and I'd have to wait to wear it.

This dress caught my eye because of the sweetheart neckline and the roomy nature of the skirt. I'm cursed with the pear shape and things like this tend to look more flattering on me. I also am thinking ahead to when (in the somewhat distant, somewhat near future) I may be pregnant. (and no, I am currently not pregnant) Patterns that allow more room for a growing tummy are ideal.

The fabric I've already used to make a full skirt with. I wear it all the time, I love the color, and the embroidered detail. I'll probably just place the embroidered edge at the bottom hem (yay no hemming!) and possibly try to make sleeves with it too. We'll see how that plays out, since I don't like the sleeve option in this pattern.

On another note, I was ready to sew up Butterick 5495 until I realized that I had the wrong size. (my hips dont fit a 14, no way no how...)

I've had this knit fabric laying around for ages. I was going to make some sort of dress hybrid with another fabric, but I don't always trust my fabric combos, so it never happened. Another reason I never used it is because it has a flaw in the screen printing.

It's kind of sad actually because I'll either have to cut around the defect, or it'll just be a part of what I make. I have no idea how to grade a pattern larger for all the measurements (B-W-H) or else I'd just go for it. Rest assured, it will be made into something, someday.


Gearing up for the men's shirt sew-along

Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness (clever, eh?) has decided to lead his humble followers over a cliff into battle with the most classic staple of menswear wardrobes: the button down shirt. I have decided to put my faith in Peter and do exactly what he tells me, as he has made many more manly shirts than I have. (I have made zero, just to give you an idea)

So far I have a pattern. That's a good place to start, no? We've found a possible choice on the fabric over at Gorgeous Fabrics. It would be a good one to use for view B. Not so much on view A, though. I like the thought of Andrew wearing a tux shirt around campus. He'd look pretty fancy. Anyway, I am really excited to get down to business on this shirt. I've never been patient enough to really do all the necessary steps to tailor a garment (not even my wedding dress really, but shhh, it's not like I'll ever wear it again), and I am trying so hard to convince myself that it's all worth it in the end.


What I'm Knitting

I think one of the coolest things about knitting is that you take a long string and loop it all together and it becomes something you can use. I think that is why creating is so satisfying. From an artist mixing colors on a canvas to find that perfect shade, to a woodworker changing what was once a tree into a guitar. Taking fiber and turning it into something you can wear just tickles my fancy, be it sewing or knitting. :)

My latest projects are a pair of mittens, and some socks. I'm trying to limit myself to one pair of socks at a time to encourage the completion of the first pair. That way I wont end up with a bunch of half finished sock projects. If you cant tell, sock knitting is my fav. :)

The sock on the right is my first toe-up sock attempt and my first time using lace. I got fabulous sock yarn from Loopy Yarns in Chicago. It was love at first sight! I found the pattern in a sock book called The Joy of Sox. The parody on the title gets a little annoying when you go and read the book, but it does have some good sock patterns in there.
 I used a free knitting pattern to make my mitten. I wanted to make them convertible flip top mittens though because once you go flip top, you don't go back ;) I still have one more to make, but I'm going to switch the colors, gray then yellow. Then the thumb and the finger parts will be gray instead of yellow.

I plan on posting a how-to about how I made the mittens convertible after I finish the second mitten. Stay tuned!


Shoe Sugar Giveaway on Grosgrain!

In honor of Shoe Sugar Month there's a giveaway on Grosgrain's blog!
These shoe clips are so darn cute, I'll probably go find some alligator clips and try out one of Kathleen's fabulous tutorials.


had a look in the past...

I just went through the past 1 1/2 years of my blog archive. It wasn't much, but I saw my enthusiasm and passion for painting back there in 2009. I've been thinking about Santa Fe a lot lately. That trip meant so much to me in so many ways, that eventually I just get this longing feeling in my gut. And sometimes I forget what it is I'm really longing for. Bottom line is, I have to paint something, and soon, or I may explode. It's taken me far too long to realize that painting is something that I absolutely must do on a regular basis. Without it, my mental health will surely spiral down a deep dark hole. I see the light and I'm going for it. I'll keep you posted.

Button Love

Mitchell Domes

Yesterday, Andrew and I went to the Mitchell Domes in Milwaukee. I wanted to take my new camera out to see what it could do. It was nice to see some green after looking at white and gray for so long.

The camera has some focus issues that are a little frustrating. I took the above picture about 15 times before I found a focus setting that worked properly. I'm glad it finally worked, this is my favorite picture of the day. :)

Overall the color settings are awesome. the flowers were so vivid in life, and the camera captured it well. :)

It was neat to look up and see the tree, a natural and organic shape, next to the man-made geometric shape of the dome glass.

There were also some cute turtles. I'm pretty sure they're real... they didn't move much. There were also birds flying around. It was pretty cool.

Overall I'm happy with the camera, and I can't wait to share more photos of my future galavanting. :)


Process: Exposed Spine Bookbinding

So this is a book that I made for Andrew's birthday. I wanted to make him a photo/journal book for his contemplative photography that he likes to do. I wanted to make him this book a year ago, but as I often did in 2010, I put it off. This is a new year, so I just sat down one night and made the whole thing start to finish. Here's how to make an exposed spine book:

First you have to prepare your paper. That involves some math (how big is your book) and a lot of cutting. I made Andrew's book a landscape 5"x7". The signatures for the text block are on the left, and the cover is on the right. Since I'm sewing the spine, I have to cut rectangles out 5"x14" and fold them in half in groups of 4 or more.

I have all my signatures lined up with my (uncovered) cover so I can mark the entry points for my needle. I usually make the holes 1 1/2" apart in pairs of 2 along the spine.

Here are my 2 sets of holes 1 1/2" apart. It's always a good idea to make the holes in the signature with an awl before sewing with the needles. I do this for every signature. Marking them when they are lined up ensures that all the holes will be lined up when you finally get to sew. I've learned that measuring exactly doesn't always work since the width of the signatures could vary by small amounts. 1/8" really does make a difference.

Next is gluing paper to the chip board to make the cover. It really doesn't matter when this part gets done, as long as it's done well before you sew the whole book together. But this is the only thing that is actually glued in the whole book. I use decorative paper, usually wrapping paper weight, but the "deluxe" wrapping paper you get from paper stores... you know the kind... Anyway I glue down the 4 corners first, then the edges. I use PVA, an acid free glue used most commonly by bookbinders, thinned with water.

After the cover is glued I take a piece of plain paper, usually a good hefty weight (I'm using Canson drawing paper, it takes glue well, and is sturdy enough for this part) that is 1/4" shorter on both sides than the size of the finished cover, so that it doesn't go all the way to the edge. Spreading glue on the cover and all four corners of the paper works best (if the paper took all the glue it would curl up and you have a higher risk of wrinkles in the final outcome).

Repeat and you have a front and back cover. At this point, it's a good idea to press the covers under some heavy books (or if you have a book press, that's even better). Then wait until the glue is dry. overnight is usually good, but if it's dry to the touch you can move on to the next step. Gluing the cover first before anything else can be helpful since it can dry while you get the rest of the book ready for sewing.

The next step is puncturing the covers. I like to line up the signature that will be sitting next to it on the book, so I know it will match up well. You can see the needles (one for each hole) that I'll be using on the right.

Next I use the method described in Keith A. Smith's book: Non Adhesive Binding, Vol. 3: Exposed Spine Sewings and sew the book together one signature at a time working all 4 needles for each signature.

The end result is pretty neat, and the book looks cool on a shelf. There are a LOT of decorative and creative stitches in Smith's book mentioned above, also at least 3 different methods of sewing a book. The way I sew books is the easiest because it doesn't require any special bookbinding tools beyond an awl and needles. Other methods use book frames and book presses to get similar results with a different look and feel to them.

So that's how I put a book together. I hope you enjoyed reading. If anybody would like more elaboration or an in depth how-to, just leave me a comment, I'd be happy to answer any questions.


February Project

I am a regular reader of this sewing blog and have watched Peter sew many shirts. I think this will be a good sew-along to follow. After all the sew-alongs I've seen and not been a part of, I pick this one to start because my brother-in-law has hired me to do some shirts and pants for him, and since I've never done men's clothing, I thought I'd practice with a shirt for my husband. Bring it on, Peter!


First day of a new year...

So I was never really big on the New Years resolution business. I'm usually not that dedicated or motivated to do the usual "lose 10 pounds" "cut back on laziness" but this year, I think I should do something. 2010 was a big year for me. I finished school, got married, and moved to a different state. To say that my life hit a big turning point would be an understatement. I've never lived without my parents under the same roof, and I think maybe adjusting from a busy life to a not-so-much going on life has taken a bit to set in. I think maybe it has finally set in, and I am ready to move forward with my life and finally do what I've always wanted to do.

My life has always felt kind of... random. That's the best word to describe it. I usually get these weird crazy surges of passion that burst out of me. In high school alone I wanted to play guitar and piano, paint pictures, write poems, make jewelry, take up scrap-booking, crochet, make friendship bracelets, take photos, and design birthday cards. (not even sure if that was all.) since then, I've taken up knitting, started sewing clothes, won a design competition (for packaging, pretty boring stuff) and did some pretty okay oil and watercolor paintings. Even went to school for that last one. I had such a bad experience with that school, that the idea that "painting is totally fun" has been pushed out of my mind.

My new problem is my new found passion for the fashion industry. Well, more so the clothes. The industry itself kinda makes me want to hurl. Anyway, the problem is it's so darn overwhelming. There is so much a person could do with a yard of fabric and a sewing machine. Add a dress form, and the possibilities seem endless. The color and pattern combos and the style lines, and the patchwork, and the garment functions.... There is too much. And it's led me to have too many ideas and a container full of yards and yards of fabric for unrealized projects that float in and out of my brain. For some reason, painting was never this overwhelming.

Another problem is everything I've learned about sewing has never really been put into practice. I'm thinking that this may be one of the reasons everything is so overwhelming. And that brings me to my point. My new years resolution. I've seen some blogs do this, but I want to put a little spin on it. I also want to leave room for flexibility since I do many different things. But I want to focus on one simple idea.

That idea will be that I will find ONE single thing, be it a technique I've never tried, or a design element that I find interesting. Or even a new knitting pattern. Definitely want to get some paintings in there. And I'll take that one thing and create something revolving around that idea, and document my progress here on the blog. I'm getting a shiny new camera next week, and THAT will help a lot :) I can even post little tutes as I go along if I discover something new.

Now a time line will probably help. No, it will help. I think I'll even go as far as having "office hours." That will keep me working rather than lounging about. I think that as far as a time line goes, it will depend on the project. Step one of a project: define it. step two: set a time goal. step three: blog it. step four: document and see it through it's completion.

Now, I do have some projects for other people lined up, and I also intend to work these into my schedule of events. First up is Cathy's dress. More about this later. I think I've written an impossibly long blog yet again. I will work on being more concise as time goes on.

As for when I start, I think 1/10/11 will be good. It will give me enough time to sort out the best schedule and come up with the best plan of attack. Someone please hold me accountable to this date. I will try very hard to not forget everything I just posted. This year is the year I am taking control of my own will power. I will accomplish something. I must.