Harley helps.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Blogger decided to discontinue my template, I guess. So here's the new one.

I spent the last two days cleaning up my sewing space, which always seems to happen in January after the flurry of Christmas sewing. The room is about the size of a large walk-in closet, and it's also where I keep presents, work-related stuff, etc. I'm still struggling with how to store everything. 

I also created an Etsy shop and added some patterns (mostly Vogues).  Planning to put up some back issues of Burda and Threads, and a few pieces of vintage fabric.

Back panel #1 of the Alabama Chanin dress is coming along:

Close up:

It helps (???) that the weather is just about to crap out on us. (I love you, New England, except from January-April.) There's not a lot to do in the evenings except read and binge-watch TV. And sew.

My one concern so far about the dress: The top layer of fabric seems to be contracting a little as I sew. Hope that doesn't affect the finished size. Guess there's only one way to find out...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


or re-SEW-lutions, hahahahahahahahahahaha. <------- funny <------- not funny

AKA things I want to do in 2016, because if I call them "resolutions" they won't get done:

1. Start a capsule wardrobe.

With Alabama Chanin pieces, because a) I like the way they fit and b) I like the fabric a lot. Ideally, I'd like to get a head start on:
  • a fitted dress in reverse applique (already started)
  • a lightweight beaded mid-length skirt, to layer under the dress or wear alone
  • a blazer (not sure how to make this happen because AC doesn't really have a blazer pattern in any of its books, but maybe I can frankenpattern something from its existing cardigan pattern + a Vogue)
I'm also eyeing the color-blocked Five Easy Pieces set in the latest issue of Vogue Patterns (not online yet). 

2. Start learning how to make pants.

Not "make a wearable pair of," just "start." Because I hear it's a pain in the ass. I have Kenneth King's Jean-ius Craftsy course, so I might start with that, or Built by Wendy's Sew U pants pattern.

The problem with pants has always been that I have, uh, special needs: I'm 5'0", long-torso'ed, and have a butt (this is what my tailor actually says every time she hems something for me: "You have butt.") I bought a few RTW pants from various mall stores last year and they're already falling to pieces and it's pissing me off. I want real pants that fit me and last longer.

I even HAVE THE FABRIC, dammit. I just need to get going.

3. Try a Ralph Rucci Vogue pattern.

Terrifying. They're all rated Advanced! Oh shit!

I remembered this goal when I recently spent half an hour gawking at a Chado Ralph Rucci dress on exhibit at the RISD Museum in Providence:

That's black silk stitched in a lattice pattern over black tulle, with feathers stitched on top throughout, because why not.

And was reminded that I really, really like all the Rucci patterns, and I have a bunch, so WHAT IS THE PROBLEM.

So I'm going to give it a shot, even if I just trace one out and make a muslin. That's the plan, anyway.

Friday, January 1, 2016

...and receiving (sewing-related presents)

You guys, I about fell over when I opened this:

It's Alabama Chanin's DIY Verd Unisex Shirt Kit, which I've been eyeing for months. MONTHS. Thank you, awesome husband.


Here's what it should look like eventually:

I'm halfway through embellishing the top:

That's the back; I decided to outline the leaf shapes with the (included) Brunette embroidery thread for a quilted effect, although I think it'd be neat just to construct the shirt as is with no embellishment. If I want to make the shirt I fell in love with, though, I'm going to have to reverse applique the bottom part eventually -- which means cutting out a few of the beautiful, perfectly stenciled black sections before construction. Scary. Gotta be done, though.

The front so far:


You know what I especially love? The wooden embroidery floss spool.

Wooden thread spools make me so happy. I always pounce on them at yard sales. IN YOUR FACE, PLASTIC.

I'll post a full review when it's done, but in the meantime: YAY YAY YAY. Is all.

One more thing: My excellent sister-in-law gave me Yoshi's Woolly World for Christmas. I'm a Nintendo-holic and grew up on side-scrollers, so it's pretty fantastic. But BONUS: Everything in it is made of yarn or sweater knit, including Yoshi.

Bad shot from my TV.

See the knitting needles? And the sweater knit for the lava? SO CUTES.

So anyway, I'm dying at the gorgeousness of this game, and also cursing a lot, because it's challenging. Just because it's happy doesn't mean it's not hard.

That is all. Cheers!

giving (or: holiday sewin' 2015)

Oh hi!

Thing I just learned: Blogger is shit on Safari but works fine on Chrome.

Anyway, figured I'd recap my holiday make-o-thon. Lots of little sewing projects (and one big non-sewing project).

Here we go!

Project 1: Kitty fleecy blankets!

I make catnip fleecy blankets for the shelter kitties every Christmas. They're super-easy and inexpensive, made with fleece remnants from JoAnn's. Each piece makes 2-3 blankets, depending on the size of the remnant. I buy whatever they have (the kitties don't care), but occasionally I find something really cute, like the hedgehog fabric above.

How to make:

1) Cut remnant into 2, 4, or 6 pieces. (Honestly, I don't even measure. I just flip the thing around until it's an even number of pieces.)
2) With 2 right sides together, sew around edges (any seam allowance you want -- I usually do 1/2 inch), leaving small opening at one end.
3) Trim excess and corners. Flip right side out, using point turner or pencil to square the corners.
4) Add 1 tsp - 1 tbsp of dried catnip inside, depending on the side of the remnant.
5) Topstitch opening closed.

(You could topstitch all the way around, but I prefer to leave as few stitches accessible to kitty as possible.)

That's it. It's easy to knock out a bunch in an hour. Our cats love them -- I put them down on pillows, the bedspread, and the sofa, and use them to line the built-in bookcases in our bedroom. Funnily enough, they work well wherever we don't want any cat fur, because kitty will just hunker down on the fleece blanket and go to sleep.

This year I spent about $35 at JoAnn and made around 20 shelter kitty blankets, plus a couple for gifts. Harley commandeered the groovy flower fabric:

I guess you can have that one, buddy.

I donated them to PALS (where we adopted Harley) and the Marblehead Animal Shelter, both excellent places to give your money should you happen to have any extra. (We also gave them food and supplies and a small cash donation.)

Project 2: Dishwasher thing!

Tom's been wanting a clean/dirty magnetic thing for our dishwasher, so I made him this as a stocking stuffer out of Ikea fabric from my New Look 6352 dress, some plain black fabric and batting from my stash, and, uh, the magnets from our shower curtain liner. Sorry/not sorry.

I made the mistake of centering the bird on the front, so then I didn't know where to position the "clean" tag. Still not thrilled with it and I may just pick it off. So it's a dirty bird, you see.

Project 3: Star Wars pillowcase!

For Tom, from Star Wars fabric purchased at the Sewing & Quilt Expo in Worcester. I didn't quite have enough fabric, so I had to finagle the back.

Wrinkled from the laundry, sry.

Finally, the non-sewing project:

Project 4: Bookcase!

This has a bit of family history. A neighbor gave it to us in the '80s -- it dates back, I'm guessing, to the '50s or '60s, and I think it went with his Encyclopedia Britannica set. And then, in 1992, I decided to take it to college, and then... 



(Which seemed like a good idea in 1992. What can I say? We sponge-painted everything, right?)

Anyway, at the time, my brother was p.o.'ed because HE wanted to refinish it and take it to college. I actually didn't even know he wanted it until I'd finished painting the thing.

It's made a bunch of moves with us over the years and held all sorts of things: cookbooks, office supplies, you name it. Last year I started trying to get the paint off, and this year I decided, hell or high water, to finish it and give it to him for Christmas.

I used Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel and afterwash and then two layers of an oil-based varnish, all recommended by Waters & Brown in Salem. (Yes, this post is all about linking to business and/or products I really like.)

I missed a few spots -- which, of course, I only saw after my brother opened it on Christmas morning -- but on the whole, I'm really happy with the way it came out. I'll miss you, little bookcase!

Happy holidays, y'all.