Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

also, and furthermore

Speaking of sewfails: This is a couple of years old, but here's what happens when you use a Burda pattern, not realizing that Burda doesn't provide seam allowances:

The world's smallest messenger bag. Whoops.

fail: Macbook Air case

After a lot of coaxing from friends and family, I finally broke down and bought an 11" Macbook Air. (Goodbye, ancient Dell laptop. I won't miss you and all of your various screens of death.)

I love it, but it needs a case. Or, rather, I'd feel better if it had a case -- something small and padded that just fits the laptop.

I really wanted something soft that didn't look like it came from Staples. I had visions of Alabama Chanin fabric and quilt batting and a picture of Antwerp's train station on the front.

(Did I mention that Antwerp's train station is gorgeous? I miss it. Wonder if they're hiring.)

(And yes, I need a new camera.)

I scanned the Antwerp picture and printed it out on a fabric inkjet sheet. Then I stitched it to a piece of scrap AC jersey, and then made the case using ye olde potholder method: 1) lay cover right side up, 2) lay lining right side down, 3) layer batting on both, 4) stitch around, leaving an opening on the bottom, 5) turn right side out and topstitch.

I lined it and made ties with leftover sweater knit from Fabric Mart, and I made the pocket from a test-stenciled scrap of AC fabric and backed it with more sweater fabric. All good, right? Right??

Uh. Slight problem. (Okay, big problem.)

It's too big. Way too big for my poor little 11-inch Macbook. AND

the Antwerp picture isn't centered. Which is going to drive me nuts until it's fixed.

I test-drove the new case once or twice, and it's padded well enough, but the size isn't really working -- the laptop slides around all over the place. That's what I get for half-assing the size (aka: "Hey, I think this scrap is big enough").

So I think there's no other way around it: Either I cut it all completely open and redo the case, or cut it partly open and make a tote bag and start totally over on the case. Leaning toward option #2.

Note to self: Next time, MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE. Sheesh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

new fall Vogues!

I'm SO SO SO excited about the new Vogue patterns, but I keep squeeing over cute work clothes and then remembering that I'm funemplo-- er, "transitioned." But still!

These are on my shortlist:

V1419: Super-awesome Ralph Rucci space-age coatdress. Those sleeves! That collar! Those lines! I've never made a RR or advanced pattern ever, but I'd give this a shot. I can't decide on the color, though. For maximum space-ageosity, maybe a winter white.

V1404: Hard to see the lines with that fabric, but I love the quilted hem and pockets and it looks like it'd work on a short person like me. Now, if I can just find a job to wear it to.

(Or not!)

V1410: Lynn Mizono. I'm intrigued by this -- especially the 3 lengths -- but not sure it would work on my body type. Either way, I'd like to try it because I love modular clothes. (More modular patterns, Vogue!)

 V9037: I overlooked this the first time, until I read Communing With Fabric's review and realized that it's perfect for my beer gut body type. Also good for lounging around watching QVC and eating bonbons.

V1408: DKNY. Hard to see from the fabric, but I love the lines and potential for colorblocking (thinking black/gray or black/red). Wondering what it would look like in Alabama Chanin cotton jersey, along the lines of this other DKNY pattern.

So that's the plan. Clearly, I need to budget some cashola for patterns (and fabric).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

two Alabama Chanin skirts

Once upon a time, I had a really long commute. 3-4 hours a day on the train, longer in the wintertime.

Luckily, I also had a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe and a used Bloomers stencil and fabric scraps from one of AC's online garage sales.

I started the Short Fitted Skirt in January and finished it in late April.

From the side:

I decided to go with reverse appliqué and keep the knots on the inside. I used AC's organic medium-weight cotton jersey in red for the top layer (it's darker than it looks in the pic), AC's organic medium-weight cotton jersey in black for the bottom, Tulip fabric spray paint in Asphalt for the design, black craft thread to outline the shapes, and black fold-over elastic for the waistline. 

This is a size small, believe it or not, which was still way too big -- I had to take in each side by a half-inch or so before sewing on the FOE. (Partly because the fabric was incredibly stretchy compared to the jersey bedsheet I used as a muslin.)

Here's the inside -- as you can see, I didn't have quite enough black fabric, so I left a few shapes uncut at the top, figuring that they'd be covered up most of the time anyway: 

A closeup of the design (I swear, the bottom layer is really black):

A closeup of the reverse (again with the color -- dang, I need a new camera):

AC says to leave the hem raw, but I decided to have it finished, thinking I could wear it to work someday. (Ha.)

Some thoughts:
  1. I love the design. Not totally thrilled with my execution (man, it looks puckery in that photo), but I'll wear it. :)
  2. Two layers of medium-weight cotton jersey are fairly heavy -- this feels like a fall or winter skirt (I'll probably wear it with boots). Next time, I'll either back it with lightweight cotton jersey or use two layers of lightweight jersey.
  3. I'm not sold on the FOE. It seems easy and wearable in theory, but I feel like I'm constantly on the verge of tearing it. Part of the issue may be the red fabric, which is pretty unravelly as well as super-stretchy. Maybe an elastic waistband next time?
  4. The techniques were relatively easy to learn, but I'm so glad I bought AC's Craftsy course. Until I watched Natalie sew, I had no idea she used such long stitches, or that she took two or even three stitches at once, or that she clipped into the top layer horizontally instead of vertically. Actually watching her do everything made a huge difference.
After I finished the red skirt, I made a second one out of one layer of AC medium-weight teal cotton jersey. I used black FOE, black craft thread, and flat-felled the seams. Here it is on me:

This time, I left the edges raw. :)

And here's a close-up of the flat-felled seams on the reverse:

I. Love. This.  Color. I want, like, a zillion yards of it.

Compared to the red skirt, this was a piece of cake. I think it took, oh, three nights. Maybe two. Hooray for almost-instant gratification. 

So that's the news. I'm playing around with other AC patterns (currently trying to extend the t-shirt into a dress; we'll see), and I'll post them here when they're done.


I'm here! I'm here.

It's been an action-packed few months. The big news, I guess, is that I got laid off in May as part of a department restructuring. (Which is fine! More time to sew, right?) I have finished projects, but that and some other life stuff got in the way of posting.

Before I post projects, though...right after I got laid off, we spent a couple of weeks in Wales and Scotland. (I know, I know, but I really needed a couple of weeks to clear my head, and we'd booked and prepaid everything before I found out. So.)

I didn't buy much, but here's the haul:

Left: Linen with bird print from 
Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth, Wales; right: Merchant & Mills Sewing Book

Crepe de chine from Liberty. Just enough to make a shell/camisole, maybe.
Wheeler Fabrics is really fantastic -- still regretting not buying a couple meters of organic sweatshirt fabric. I might use the linen to try and eke out a dress, although it's a little late in the season.

Okay, on to projects. (Also, I'm sad about not being able to make MPB Day this year. I want to go!)